Suzie Richards is an athlete and World Duathlon Champion 2014, the Always Aim High Triathlon Series event winner 2014, and if that wasn’t enough – she’s won many events this season including her first ever Half Ironman distance Triathlon – and she even competed as a Pro in her first ever full distance Ironman race at Ironman UK in Bolton this year.
In Suzie’s case, the repetitive nature of the swimming, biking and running had started to take its toll on her body, so her wall was developing cracks and we needed to do something about it before it fell down and she was seriously injured.
Sounds pretty impressive doesn’t it? But even more impressive is that she’s done it all carrying a niggly injury in her Achilles.
Working closely with her coach, Louise Barron, Suzie has been careful to maximise her training without irritating the issue, while I have been treating the Achilles and heel in between all of her training.
As I’m sure you can imagine training for a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile run is very time consuming and takes its toll on the body – so treatment has pretty much been ‘patch it up and send her back out there’. Pretty soon after the Ironman race in July, Suzie’s Achilles pain returned with a vengeance and she struggled through the rest of her races that season.
That’s when the time came for a change of strategy.
Typically, triathletes have a few weeks off around October before their winter training starts, so I suggested to Suzie that she take this opportunity to try something totally different to try to sort out this Achilles issue once and for all. I think it’s safe to say that my strategy was fully understood, but she was more than a little hesitant! You can read her version of events here.
Basically, I proposed that she reduce her swim, bike, run training to as little as possible and switch her focus to getting her body moving better. For this I had to get ‘Coach Lou’ on board. Both she and Suzie were very dubious but fortunately for me they were willing to give it a try!
This was a brand new venture for all of us so there was some initial confusion about how it would pan out, but we’re seven weeks in and, well, here’s what’s happened so far…
I tried to explain my position by using the analogy of building a house; even I know, from a non-builder perspective, that to build a house that is strong and robust, you must build all the walls at once. If you build one wall as high as possible before starting on the next, it will crack and fall down as there is nothing to support it.
By doing a movement in a repetitive fashion for a long period of time, it is the equivalent of building one wall on its own. In Suzie’s case, the repetitive nature of the swimming, biking and running had started to take its toll on her body, so her wall was developing cracks and we needed to do something about it before it fell down and she was seriously injured.
My plan was to start developing Suzie’s body into a much more mobile, resilient, and robust one so that when she started adding the stresses of her triathlon training back in, she would cope much better and be much more resistant to injury.
This started by giving her a programme of mobility training to do to undo all the movement restrictions and strength imbalances in her entire body. She had three programmes to do each week, each focusing on a different area of her body (but involving all of it) and she was to do this for three weeks alongside her minimised triathlon training. Each programme was designed to take no longer than 20-30 minutes, which was very difficult for Suzie to comprehend given the amount of training she was used to!
At the time of publication of this article, she is into week 7 of her new style of training and she is more than surprised at the results so far.
After 6 weeks of very little training she is hitting PBs in the pool and doing press-ups like Rocky Balboa!
She is so excited about her progress that she’s agreed to keep us all posted about her progress on her blog. I’m really excited about how much more we can achieve this winter and to see how that translates into races once the season starts. I will definitely be reading her blog and I encourage you to do the same.
I would like to thank both Suzie and ‘Coach Lou’ for their openness to this craziness and for their communication through any confusion! It has truly been a team effort and such a pleasure to be part of.
To see more video of Suzie and much, much more, come on over and like my Facebook page. You don’t even need to join Facebook to see it!