Science: the facts and the figures and where everyone gets their information from. For the record I have a science degree and keep up to date with latest research and keep an eye on what other coaches are doing and how that can benefit my athletes.
A capacity field took part in the IronMaori Quarter Ironman held in good conditions in Napier this morning.
About 2,100 competitors competed as individuals or in teams of three in the event which consisted of a 1km swim in Pandora Pond, a 45km cycle, followed by a 10.5km run back to the finish line at Pandora.
IronMaori event director Heather Skipworth said before the event that there were a number of first-time entries in the field.
Yoga is a great activity that provides a range of benefits to athletes and non-athletes alike.
1. Enhances Your Flexibility
Improved flexibility equals improved range of motion which will give you greater potential for performance.
2. Develops Muscle Strength
The strength development compliments the flexibility. Holding poses for longer develops the strength through the time the muscles spend under tension.
3. Improves Your Posture
By toning your postural muscles, yoga will improve your posture allowing you to stand tall with less strain on your spine and respiratory system.
4. Protects Your Spine
Inter-vertebral disks get their nutrients by being effectively massaged when you move. A yoga session has a range of movements for your spine (back-bends, forward bends and twists).
5. Decrease Stress
Yoga has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, through the meditation-like and mindfulness of its practise.
6. Enhances Your Bone Health
The fact that the poses are weight bearing (although they don’t provide as much weight bearing as running, it certainly is more than swimming or cycling) helps develop bone strength. The stress hormone cortisol has an impact on your bones ability to maintain their calcium levels – this is decreased.
7. Improves Circulation
Although yoga doesn’t get your heart rate right up there, the relaxation enhances blood flow especially right out to the extremities. The movement also enhances the fluid movement through the lymphatic system.
8. Improves Your General Health
Getting greater blood flow completely around the body can decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension etc. The movement of lymph through the lymphatic system will enhance your immune systems response to infection and removal of waste products.
9. Decreases Blood Pressure
Studies in the Lancet have shown that the relaxation/meditation aspect of Yoga is more beneficial for your blood pressure than lying on the couch.
As part of ALL my coaching programmes I include sessions each week working on flexibility. I encourage athletes to utilise Yoga for these sessions, because there are a range of benefits (I didn’t need to stop at nine benefits, I could have easily doubled that).
Including weekly practise of Yoga into your overall programme will benefit both your general health as well as your performance.
Here are a couple of great Yoga DVDs with multiple workouts to follow along with that are worth investing in to enhance your performance and health, regardless of whether you are an athlete or not.
This session is a great way to develop your anaerobic capacity and top end speed. It is perfect for road cyclists and mountain bikers. Carmen Small is a professional cyclist riding on the Cervélo–Bigla Pro Cycling team.
QK: Congratulations on being selected in the NZ Paralympic team. How did you receive the news that no doubt changed your cycling career?
AC: Thank you. It was a real surreal feeling getting the confirmation that I was in the team. A few months earlier I thought I’d run out of chances as I missed out on Road Worlds last year and had only taken up track cycling before Christmas last year. The first event on track I missed the qualifying time for Track Worlds by two seconds. However an opportunity to race with a different pilot came up and we ended up working really well together and came 5th in the world. It just goes to say that you should never give up as something else might come along.
QK: You are reasonably new to the sport of cycling. How did you find your way to the top end of the para-cycling field?
AC: There was a lot of pressure initially. I was working full time and it was tough having to learn really, really quickly how to juggle training and work. The first two years of competing was all self-funded so it was both mentally and financially hard. I was really determined to prove to myself that I could get to the Paralympics. The hardest part is to keep going when you keep failing. You just have to keep positive and keep working towards your goals.
QK: How do you function on the bike with your limitations compared to both able bodied and other competitors in your category?
AC: Other than tandem rides, I train on a single bike on an erg. My balance is affected by my Usher Syndrome (which is profound deafness and retinitis pigmentosa which means I don’t have any peripheral vision) so it can be difficult riding a road bike on my own. The classification that I ride in is called B/VI which means blind/vision impaired so it involves a wide range of vision losses between our competitors. It doesn’t mean hearing impairment so that is one disadvantage I have over others who might have perfectly good hearing because I miss out on hearing other tandems shift gears before attacking or I might miss instructions from my pilot. We do have a microphone system in place but it’s not perfect (i.e. it’s not weather or sweat proof). The way to get around it is to stay really focused and respond to the pilot as well as I can.
QK: You have a strong reliance on your pilot. How long have you worked with her? Are they allocated through the High Performance (HP) programme or have you been working with her longer and she has come up with you to be part of the HP programme?
AC: Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) staff and coaches find the pilot. My pilot, Hannah van Kampen, is also Emma Foy’s (another stoker in the NZ team) reserve pilot. Hannah had begun training with her when our head coach decided to try us out together on the track. We have only been riding together since February this year. As a stoker, you learn to trust the pilot quickly. You have to, otherwise you end up fighting each other on the bike. Fortunately PNZ has been great at picking experienced riders who have been able to adapt to piloting well.
QK: What is the atmosphere at the High Performance centre like? Do you have much interaction with the athletes from the other sports?
AC: I have only been in Cambridge three weeks. Prior to that I only had minimal contact with other athletes via the High Performance Sport NZ gym in Wellington. The centre here is great. We don’t interact too much with other athletes other than in passing or in the athlete’s lounge, but they have all been friendly. Both the facilities and everyone’s attitudes are really professional and it’s a very motivating environment.
QK: What is your favourite cycling workout?
AC: It’s hard to pick one. I definitely like our track sessions, but I also really enjoy the road rides as a lot of the time I’m on the erg indoors so it’s great to be on the tandem seeing different scenery and also ride on various terrains.
QK: What have you learned over the last 12 months that more people should know?
AC: Attitude makes a huge difference to what you’re doing and what you want to do. Even though I have faced barriers and even been told that I wouldn’t be good enough for track, it’s important to maintain a professional yet positive attitude. You can do anything you want as long you’re willing to put in the hard yards. It wasn’t fun waking up at 4.30am to train on the erg before working a full day in a office over the last two years, but I had a goal to work towards. Strong mentality – this is something I learnt in the last few years
QK: What are the two biggest training mistakes you have made and how have you come back from them?
AC: More of a lesson than mistake. One is learning that even on a bad day, you should put 100% into your efforts. I was recently told to treat every day like it’s race day – it’s great advice. The second mistake is comparing yourself to your teammate or competitors. Everyone is built differently and what works for one person might not work for you so I try and focus on what the coach tells me and work towards that without worrying about anything else.