Max - you are fairly new to the world of multisport and adventure. What was your background before you decided to get dirty?
My background in exercise of any sort was non-existent! I had a pretty stereotypical life wake-up call a while back when I realised I was almost 40 and overweight and way unfit, so I thought I’d best do something about it! I started with yoga which was great. A few years later a friend talked me into joining her at boot camp and my sister inspired me to try a couch to 5km running program. Next thing I knew I’d been talked into doing the Taste of Adventurethon on Maggie in 2015. It all escalated quite quickly from there! I’m about 20kg less than what I was and have a lot more carbon fibre and lycra in my life now!
You've had a massive year of adventure racing!!
Can you even remember all the events you have competed in? And if so ...GO!
Yeah the last 18 months have been somewhat busy. The Destination Adventure weekend at the beginning of last year started a pretty hectic ride! Adventurethon Magnetic Island Enduro in March. First ½ marathon distance trail run at Alligator Creek with Outer Limits in April. Zach Mack Adventure Challenge near Mackay in May (in a team with my inspirational friend Kim!). Adventurethon Townsville Ultra distance then Paluma Push Intermediate distance in July. Grin n Bear It Challenge at Atherton solo in August. Ona Mission at Mission Beach in September – long course as a pair with Kim again. A group of us hiked the Kokoda Track in September as well. There were a few of the NQ Paddle Series races throughout the year that I participated in including the round the Island paddle in October. Then there were no more competitions til late February this year when the Outer Limits trail run series started up again with the Castle Hill trail run. I ran the 30km+ Thorsborne trail on Hinchenbrook Island with a group of friends in a day in March. Adventurethon Maggie Ultra distance then Alligator creek trail run again in April. Zach Mack again with Kim and Ultra Trail Australia 50km Ultramarathon trail run in the Blue Mountains in May. Ross River Rush trail run and Spartan obstacle race in June. Adventurethon Townsville Ultra + a couple rogaining (orienteering) events including Townsville Tropical Orienteering Clubs Mingela 2 hour event and an 8 hour event up at Mareeba plus Paluma Push Comp course (first time I’ve had the horrible DNF (did not finish) letters after my name…) in July. Hells Bells 24 hour adventure race on the Sunshine Coast with my amazing team mate Laura! And finally the most recent event was Grin n Bear it again at the end of August (in a team this time).
You recently broke your wrist riding the Paluma Push . What happened?
I was doing the 70km Comp course and had a bit of a stack with an over the handle bars experience about 40km in. My wrist seemed functional when I dusted myself off so I kept going but after another 20km it wasn’t quite so functional anymore so I had to stop.
And then you went on to compete with Laura Dunstan at Hells Bells with it broken. How in Hells Bells did you do that? And can you tell what is involved in the race for those who don't know what Hells Bells is?
Hells Bells is an adventure race requiring teams of 2 or 4 to navigate to a series of about 35 set control points using maps and a compass utilising various disciplines. It included approximately 35km of running, 15km of kayaking and 107km on mountain bikes with a bit of a swim. We were only given the maps a couple hours before race start and had to work out how to get to where we had to go along the way and what equipment we needed to take with us in that time. We also had to pack 2 boxes with equipment including whatever clothing, food and water we would require. These were dropped off by the race organisers at set points where we transitioned from 1 discipline to another during the course of the race. So basically it’s a multisport race that requires teams to stick together and find their way with no knowledge of the course until just before it starts that they have to try to complete in under 24 hours!
I was determined that I was going to do Hells Bells. We’d put a lot of time and effort into training and learning to navigate and were both really excited (and a little scared and apprehensive….) about the event. Initial x-rays on my wrist didn’t show any fracture so I just strapped it up and went!
What ski do you paddle, bike do your ride and your trail shoe of choice?
I paddle an Epic V10L ultra spec surf ski, ride a Norco Revolver FS 9.1 and strap my feet into Saloman S-Lab Sense Ultra trail running shoes. I am open to the concept of sponsorship by anyone though!
Favourite moment at a DA event?
My favourite moment wasn’t swearing copiously whilst falling out of my fairly new surf ski while Clint Robinson was enjoying my discomfort during his paddling clinic earlier this year! However we did have a lot of fun doing the team races over in Horseshoe bay the next day. I think my favourite moment was probably the night ride we did on the first Destination Adventure weekend. That was the first time I’d ever ridden at night and even though it was just a relaxed bike ride out to West Point I just really loved it!
What does 2018 hold for you?
Next year I’d love to do more adventure races and of course I want to keep doing trail running, mountain biking, paddling and multisport events…. so many things to do!!! My most serious goal is probably Surf Coast Century 100km ultramarathon trail run in Victoria in September. I’d love to travel to more interstate and international adventure sport destinations and enjoy the amazing parts of the world in which we can indulge our athletic addictions!
1. The Glutes and the Pelvic Floor are like BFFs. No Butt = No Pelvic Floor
2. Not just found in women - we all have a Pelvic Floor! And just like women, men can have issues when the Pelvic Floor is not "on game"
3. Runners: The Pelvic Floor is connected to your Diaphragm. It is part of the deep core muscles responsible for stabilising your pelvis and chest when running, bears load and is super important in breathing. If you are bracing with your pelvic floor when you run, breathing becomes compromised.
And Breathing is kinda important when it comes to running 😉
4. Riders: Repetitive nerve irritation from a poorly positioned saddle (in an area we don't want to irritate a nerve ) can lead to a chronic guarding response in the pelvic floor muscles. This can manifest as restricted breathing, pain in the lower back, SIJ, pubis synthesis or hip pain. As well as numbness 😳
5. The Pelvic Floor attaches to the deep hip rotators, so tightness in the hips can create issues in the pelvic floor and vice versa
6. To quote Rhiannna "Shine bright like a Diamond" The Pelvic floor is shaped like a diamond. The floor is made up of 4 muscles that are like a sling or hammock, strung between at the front, your pubic bone, either side, your sit bones and at the back, your coccyx. May it shine bright like a diamond!
7. The Pelvic Floor is the the only horizontal weight bearing muscle in the body
8. This will mess with your head but the pelvic floor is connected via fascia to your tongue, diaphragm, groin / adductor muscle, back of your knee, all the way down to the arch of your foot. And if there are issues anywhere along that path it can impact on the Pelvic Floor. "Wow Wee Indeed!!" I hear you say!
9. Stress Incontinence is just one signal that central stability is compromised.
10. The Pelvic Floor is not a lone wolf but part of a system of muscles of continence.
What is your running/fitness/adventuring back ground?
Was gym fit in my younger years, but struggled with a long-term illness for 15 ish years, gained about 60 kg and lost all my fitness.
The illness improved towards the end of 2015 and over the next 18 months I managed to rebuild some of my fitness and lose about 40 kg.
I started doing some running mid in 2016 first by myself and then with Sid Wills online coaching support. Then Runbirds started and I was lucky enough to be about to join their first program. (The last 2 thanks to the advice and encouragement of the wonderful Kelly Dicketts!)
What is Runbirds?
Runbirds is a running group/program (ladies only) that caters for beginners and beyond, coached by the fantastic Karey and Chris. Not only do Karey and Chris use their considerable skills to teach and guide you on your running journey, these ladies have created a unique group that promotes women supporting each other, friendship, health and fun. It truly is an amazing group to be a part of.
What does Runbirds mean to you?
Joining Runbirds opened up a whole new world for me, in regards to running certainly but also a world of supportive, enthusiastic, amazing ladies. Through Runbirds I have been inspired by the achievements of others, learnt running skills (mental and physical), made great contacts in the community, made new friends, gotten to know old friends better, learnt there are amazing trails, runs and events all around Townsville to explore, and discovered a world of health, fitness and fun! Oh and coffee on a Sunday of course……..
You headed over to the island with the Runbirds on the morning of Cyclone Debbie. How did you find the 10km trail hike/run/walk?
I was just out of recovery from a major surgery when we did this run, so for me was more of a walk .or jalk? Is that what you call it Daina?. ( Yes a jog +walk = jalk)
It was pretty challenging to be honest, but some of the above mentioned amazing Runbird crew stuck with me and Daina kept up the fun and encouragement so I got through. Though it was challenging, I loved the trail, seeing parts of the Island and views I’d never seen before, the company and I felt elated when I finished. Then a yummy brunch before heading home, what more could I ask! Cyclone Debbie just made it that little be more exciting……
You were the very first person to contact us to put your name down for The Great Island Trek!! What was it that piqued you interest?
I love Maggie Island, its my spiritual home. I lived there in the 80/90’s on and off, but never did any hiking on the trails. I’m not even sure there were these amazing trails back then! So, I love the thought of seeing more of the Island. My son Jacob also loves Maggie, and grabs any excuse to get over there when he’s in Townsville, so it’s a nice bonding time for us (got to grab every chance, he is after all a teenager!) He’s hoping to bring his camera, he enjoys photography.
The other part I am looking forward to is all the happy energy this type of event creates for the participants, I love seeing all those happy faces – weather it’s the Runbirds crew, other friends I know are doing the trek or strangers. We are all out there with a common passion and loving the trail!!
What’s next on your adventure bucket list?
I told my son if I got my health back I would go skydiving with him so we are doing that in the September school holidays too (eeek!!).
I’d like to pursue mountain biking next year, and plan on attending the yoga retreat in 2018 (missed both this year –looks amazing)
I hope to build up to a lot of hiking/running/biking/camping trips and outings.
Meet Leisel, a mother of one kidling aged 8 and one big kid husband aged 47 and loves to Mountain Bike Ride
What adventures have you been on since we last saw you?
RRR mountain bike race from Mt Molloy to 4 mile beach Pt Douglas and the Elevate 8 hour race at Atherton MTB park .
You joined us for our Womens mountain bike retreat with Ret on the island, what were some of the memorable moments that have stuck with you from the retreat?
Great fun with friends. And a great chance to clock off from daily grind.
650 B or 29er?
Favourite post ride drink?
Best pre ride feed?
Favourite place to ride?
Atherton MTB trails
Headphones and music or au naturale when riding?
Just nature sounds when riding
How often do you get go adventuring?
Get on MTB or roady at least once a week. Or more if training for an event.
What's on the bucket list?
NOT to take up lawn bowls any time soon.
If it's dangerous, expensive and fast it's normally got my name in it.
Best inspirational song?
WHIP IT - Devo
"you get in the bowl"
Favourire riding shirt?
Karen you've been to so many of our retreats it might be easier to list the ones you haven't been to.... so here's a memory test for you - can you list the events you have attended?
So I started with the first ever Destination Adventure combined weekend which introduced me to some truly amazing people. From Paddling with Clint Robinson, Mountain bike (and sand riding) skills with Andy and Running with Sid Willis and Steve Moneghetti (including one far too memorable face-plant on the Mandalay Track directly in front of the man himself), more Trail running with Sid, the women's Mountain biking with Ret Howarth, a full on weekend with Clint and I may have snuck in for a part of the next Mountain bike weekend and a run with Melinda Gainsford Taylor plus things like the Glute and Mobility workshop, the Island Deck Party and random video shoots in some spectacular places.
What's the most memorable message from the retreats?
While each one is different, with different skills and different people no matter what you're doing, at whatever level you're at, enjoy it - we do this for fun as well as for fitness - be prepared to push your limits a little and give anything a go you might just surprise yourself with what you can do.
Aside from the skills you gain, the people you meet that take part in these events really do make them something special.
People looking at you now may not release that you've haven't always been this active - can you tell us where you were not that long ago?
A few years ago I weighed in at 120kg and did nothing but work. I wouldn't have been able to run more than half a km, hadn't been on a bike in almost 16 years and had paddled a canoe in a river maybe twice on school camps. Currently 40 to 50 kg lighter (depending on the training I'm doing) I can take on a 70 km multisport race and know I can cross the finish line with a smile, I have so many new skills I'd have trouble listing them all and a whole bunch of wonderful people I never would have met if I hadn't got involved in all these crazy adventures.
Do you have a favourite discipline?
Tough, but I'd have to say Paddling at the moment with mountain biking a close second (never was a great runner ), Since Clint's last retreat I've taken his advice on board and put in a lot more time in the ski and the results are pretty cool, after seeing a big difference in the paddle leg in the Townsville Adventurethon I just took on my first 20km downwind race and have just raced the Maggie Island Loop ( Karen smashed her time from last year!)
My next challenge is back to multisport with On-A-Mission, up at Mission Beach in September.
Can you give us one piece of advice about the Destination Adventure retreats?
Thinking about attending? Book now, there's nothing worse than going to sign up and finding out it's full up.
You really don't want to have to hear how great it was from someone else.
What made you decide to come to Magnetic Island for the Clint Robinson Paddle Retreat?
To escape a Melbourne winter and to learn some tips and skills from the best of the best. I first met Clint a few years back when I started paddling. I'd had a long break away from the sport and I respect his skills, abilities and like his teaching style - can always count on Clint to keep it real
What were the key take home points that you took from the weekend?
a) More time in the boat
b) Drop my top hand
c) Get my core into shape
d) Focus on the catch at the front of the stroke
What was the highlight of your trip?
a) Meeting the Destination Adventure team and a rockstar line up of fellow paddlers.
b) The food....god so much yummy food! Peppers Resort is a top location for such a clinic
c) Exploring Maggie Island - she's a beauty
What adventures have you been on since we last saw you?
Well, I came to Maggie Island to work on technique. I then went to Ningaloo Reef in WA a week later to put skills into practice with a week of downwind paddling in another gobsmackingly gorgeous location with an awesome group of folks - Dean Gardiner - the king of downwind paddling, and an awesome group from Ocean Paddler.
Then, the big one...the Mauritius Ocean Classic! My word....that was so far out of my comfort zone there are not enough words!
Life is short I figure, I like to make it one big adventure
Dealing with an injury.
If you're a runner there is every chance, that at some point, you will have to learn to deal with an injury. In fact, the statistics tell us that up to 70% of recreational and competitive runners will sustain an overuse injury during any 12-month period. Overuse injuries are more common than an acute injury (think ankle sprain) and are generally a result of too much too soon. Increased running frequency, distance or speed are the likely culprits.
The most common overuse injuries are patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), iliotibial band friction syndrome (outside of knee), plantar fasciitis (heel pain), medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints) and patellar tendinopathy (knee cap tendon pain).
Overuse injuries also tend to follow a pattern.
Initially you might feel a little niggle during the first 5 - 10 minutes of running that disappears as you "warm up". You decide to ignore the pain because it "gets better" and you don't want to miss out on a run.
You keep following your running program.
Suddenly you notice that the pain is there at the start of the run, yes it improves as you “warm up” but you now have pain at the end of the run. “It’s all good” you think to yourself because there’s no pain the following day and figure you can keep running
"Must follow my training program!!"
“Can’t miss a run!”
“I’ll lose fitness if I don’t run”
“I’m meant to do a long run today, and I love my long run, so I’m running!”
“If I don’t run I will go MAD!”
So, you keep on running, following your program until eventually you can’t. See now the pain gets worse the more you run and you find yourself walking the last section home.
And if you keep ignoring the pain signals your body is sending you, continue to run, you reach the point of having pain or discomfort all the time – even when you’re not running.
So, what to do?
Listen to your body. Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong and needs to be addressed.
And please, don’t rely on Dr Google or Social Media to work out what the problem is. It is, absolutely, worth seeking out a professional opinion by your preferred choice of healthcare provider.
The sooner you know and address whatever the cause of the problem is the less time off running you will need and that’s the best possible outcome.
Are you legs starting to feel tired & heavy when your run? Getting niggles? Sore, hots spots in your feet that you didn't have before? Maybe it's time for some new shoes...
A general rule of thumb has always been when you’ve run in the vicinity of 800 k’s, it was time for some new shoes. The heavier the runner, or even the light runner with a heavy foot strike might only get 500k’s out of a pair of running shoes.
Usually it's the midsole of the shoe that fails first. The midsole, funnily enough, is the middle part of the shoe, the bit between the upper and the outsole and in most running shoes is made from a viscoelastic material called EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) As the shoe ages, the air content of the EVA foam decreases. You can start to see wrinkles and collapses in the side walls of the EVA, the midsole becomes stiffer, thinner and loses its capacity to dissipate energy. This can lead to changes in the way you run with increase pressure on the heel, increasing vertical loading and potential increase risk of injuries. One study has suggested that you increase your risk of injury if your shoes are 4 months or older!
But things have changed - and not necessarily for the good.
There has been a recent trend towards softer midsoles in running shoes across many of the popular shoe manufacturers. Super, marshmallow soft. And yes, the first feel of a running shoe with a soft midsole is a pillow of cushioning goodness but unfortunately the softer material doesn’t have the same durability as a firmer midsole. The softer midsole absorbs 83% more energy initially but degrades 49% faster than a firmer midsole!!
How can you check the midsole of your shoes?
Look at them - If you see a crinkle cut patterns in the midsole material then they have started to compress. The dead shoe test is also quick and simple to do. Grab your shoe and see if you can bend the forefoot back down towards the heel of the shoe. If it feels firm and doesn’t shift, awesome. If it easily bends, then the midsole has deteriorated and you probably need new shoe.
So, if your shoes are older than 4 months or if you wear them for everything not just running and they fail the dead shoe test, then now is a perfect time to get yourself some new running shoes.
Here's a question for you
If you suffer from isolated quad fatigue or cramping when you ride - is it because
a) you haven't had enough electrolytes or magnesium
b) you're dehydrated
c) you're nickname is "Quadzilla"
d) you've got a lazy butt?
e) you saddle is either too low, too far forward or a combination of both
Let's run through those answers one by one
a) If you did have low serum electrolyte concentration you would have generalised skeletal muscle cramping not localised to one muscle
b) Exercise induced hyponatraemia ( dehydration) is associated with generalised skeletal muscle cramping not localised to one muscle
c) You may in fact have Quads that are so big they should have their own post code but this is not a reason for them to cramp
So my guess is either "d" or "e" and that you're what we call a "Quad dominant" Rider whose glutes maybe aren't firing properly. The poor old quads are doing all the power delivery to the pedals.... hence they are not happy by the end of the ride and may even cramp.
After a long ride you should have a general feeling of tiredness in all your big leg muscles, not just the quads.
What if I told you there is a better way? And therefore you don't need electrolytes or magnesium to solve the problem?
The altered neuromuscular control theory of cramping goes like this
A repetitive exercise with a muscle working in a shortened position (quads on a bike) with decrease muscle energy leads to the development of muscle fatigue. Throw in some decrease golgi tendon action , increase motor neuron and muscle cell membrane activity and voila you've got yourself a quad cramp.
There are two main joint actions that happen during the power phase of the pedal stroke. The quads extend the knee and the butt/glutes extend the hip. And depending on what research you look at - the glutes can contribute between 30 and 50 % of the power to your pedals. That's a heap of power you're missing out on if you are only relying on your quads.
Priority one is to make check that your saddle height is not too low or too far forward as this increases load on the quads and is a sure fire way if developing quad pain when riding
Now if you spend all of your day sitting on your butt at work you have your glutes in an elongated position. And if the glutes are in an elongated position for 40 hours a week there's a fair chance by the time you jump on your bike you can't activate them- Say hello to quad pain!
Not only will you suffer from quad pain being quad dominant with no butt action on the bike but you're also a candidate for knee pain (patello-femoral joint pain) due to excessive tractioning on the knee cap (patella) and back pain because without the glutes you will struggle to maintain pelvic position on the saddle and create over reliance on the back extensors
Get your Glutes On
Give this a go
Lying face down on your stomach, put your hands on both butt cheeks and squeeze them together. See if you can contract only the buttock muscles without the hamstrings or ‘back passage’ muscles kicking in. Then see if you can contract one side separately from the other.
Hold each contraction for 3-5 seconds and do them often!
Train Smart , Ride Strong
Do you have calf pain when you run that gets worse the longer you run? The calf feels tight and might even stop you from running forcing you to walk home?
This is a fairly common problem we see in runners and usually is a not caused by an acute injury but often the result of fatigue of the muscle.
Other potential causes of calf pain are compartment syndrome or sciatic nerve impingement.
But lets save them for another post....in the mean time if you have any numbness , tingling or loss of muscle function - get thee to a doctor!
Which calf muscle is it?
There are a heap of muscles in the back of the lower leg. (feel free to glaze over as we go through the anatomy) The "calf" muscle is the medial and lateral head of the gastrocnemius and the lower portion of the "calf" is the soleus.
Lying deep beneath the gastrocnemius and the soleus are the toe flexors and the tibialis posterior muscle.
So which one is causing you pain? That's a tricky question - most commonly it is the medial head of the gastrocnemius but I have certainly seen calf pain that has been caused by the Flexor Hallucis Longus - which is latin for the muscle that pulls your big toe down. The Flexor Hallucis Longus can get overworked, fatigued and stressed if your big toe is stiff - result is pain in the "calf"
Ok - why does the calf fatigue?
Well that’s a great question! Is it a problem of the calf or is it a problem up or down stream of the calf?
Is your calf muscle "tight" or is it "weak" or is it trying to do the job of something else?
If you have weakness or inhibition in your gluteus maximus it’s tricky to get into hip extension at propulsion, which is an important part of running. The result is we either compensate by using our hamstrings as hip extensors (say hello to proximal hamstring issues) or by using an ankle strategy and end up overloading the calf.
The other potential cause is restriction at the ankle joint called an equinus ( latin for an ankle that functions like a horses) which makes the life of the calf muscle that much harder
Also a sudden change in volume, intensity or frequency of running can also stress out the calf muscle. Sprinting and hills repeats are often the culprits.
The other potential cause of calf strain is a changing to a lower profile running shoe, racing flat or “barefoot” shoe. This can change the foot strike pattern of running and increase the demands of the calf muscle.
Well my calf is sore. Maybe I should take some anti-inflammatories then?
Ah…. The answer would be whoah Nelly! . NSAIDs or anti-inflammatories aren't that flash when it comes to helping muscle injury. There has been a truck load of research over the last 20 years or so that shows anti inflammatories impair muscle healing. Recently the Journal of Applied Physiology published research in 2013 that showed Anti-inflammatories actually slow down repair of muscle after injury which will delay your return to running. This is the last thing we want to do!!
So what do I do?
Well if the calf pain is significant it might be worth having a few rest days and let the calf settle. I know that sucks, ideally we want to start strengthening the calf muscle but there is no point adding load to an already overloaded muscle.
Once the pain has settled isometric calf raises are a fantastic place to start a strengthening program. Double legged, heels slightly off the ground, toes pointing straight ahead and hold for 15-30 seconds. As muscle endurance improves you can progress to single leg, heavy slow repeats and then even some plyometrics. But start with calf raise and hold.
Some gentle, slow foam rolling to improve mobility of the calf is useful too. Don't go deep into the pain cave when foam rolling, we don't want to further damage the calf muscle - we just want to give it some love. As Chrissie Amplett said
"There's a fine line between pleasure and pain" so don't overdo it!
Also address any glute strength and ankle mobility issues and make sure your shoes aren’t completely trashed.