Many of you would have watched or entered our search for the first Holistic Endurance Ambassador over September and October. Courtney Potts, our Ambassador began her journey with Holistic Endurance under Coach Jackie at the beginning of November. Here we have a look into what her first couple of weeks with Team HE have entailed and how she is feeling starting her comeback.

You have just finished your first couple of weeks with HE, what was focus?

First few weeks were about getting to know coach, coach getting to know me. Seeing how the body was going to respond to the training and getting back into a training routine. And there’s been quite a big focus on mobility exercises; pre training, post training and even when I’m not training!

What was the reason why Coach Jackie had for the focus on mobility and what differences do you feel the focus on mobility has been making thus far?
Jackie has put a focus on mobility because at present my body is not functioning as well as it should. I have lingering injuries that are causing all sorts of issues throughout my body. What was eventually diagnosed as ‘posterior tibial dysfunction’ (pain and weakness in my left lower leg) has been causing me grief for the last 12 months. So that with the combination of my wonky hips and knees (deformed since birth) and numerous past injuries to numerous limbs has basically just left my entire body out of whack and in much need of some TLC (mobility exercises!)
The difference this has made so far has been quite remarkabHolistic Endurance Ambassadorle; 4 weeks ago I couldn’t run more than 4 minutes without experiencing pain in my leg (I would actually be in pain just from been on my feet at work). As well as experiencing pain, I felt really awkward running like my body just wasn’t in sync and just nothing felt right when I ran. Coming from someone who used to love running and who even used to be half decent at it, the fact I couldn’t run properly anymore was extremely heart breaking. Since starting my program with Jackie which includes mobility, stretching and activation exercises pre and post training – I have been not only able to run pain free, but run properly without the awkwardness and out of sync feelings I was experiencing prior. (And no longer get pain in my leg during or after work)

How has this differed from previous program beginnings?

Hard to compare really, in the sense that my current training load and intensity is quite minimal having just about had this year off training completely. So I have started this program as the most unfit and weak/injured I have ever been. Compared to previous programs I started when I was fit, strong and healthy. In the past i have been able to jump straight into the full swing of things from the get go but this time round that is impossible. It took many months to lose my fitness and its going to take many months to get it back.

By not jumping into training load straight away, what impact do you feel this had?
Jackie is easing me back into training knowing I have just come back from an extended break, as well as dealing with injuries and having to re-learn how to juggle training, shift work and life. Had we jumped straight into a full training load straight away I probably would have burnt out early on and my injuries would not have healed (and I would have probably gained a few new ones)
During your testing you’ve set down some benchmarks, how are you feeling about the results? 

There weren’t any surprises with the test results, like I’ve said I have just had most of the year off training … if you don’t use it you will lose it! So I am super keen to repeat the tests in the future and see the improvements. The results I got although they were a slap in the face, have only provided me with more motivation and determination

Are there particular mental cues that have helped you turn this around mentally?
I think I have just changed the way I look at training and racing now, compared to how I have looked at it all in the past. I have always been in a hurry to get to where I want to be. I am like that in most aspects of my life, feel like I have to quickly do everything before I run out of time or something I don’t know…. I guess sometimes its not such a bad trait to have to in the sense that wanting to do everything you can in the time you have in order to get the most out of your life isn’t entirely a bad thing, but at what cost….. that is what I have come to realize of late is that you can charge on full steam ahead hammering yourself in training, work, life whatever it may be…. but at some point you will crash. And when you do it hurts a lot. So I have decided that I do not like crashing so in order to prevent that from happening again I am more than happy to slow down and get my body healthy and strong (injury free) and gradually work my way to my Ironman dreams. Listening to my body (and coach) along the way to ensure I don’t fall to pieces ever again.
For those who haven’t done ‘testing’ before, tell us what was involved.
The tests we did consisted of a 3km MAF run test, 500m swim time trial, 20min running threshold test, 15km bike MAF test, and a 20min bike lactate threshold test. The purpose for the testing was to validate my MAF heart rate calculation and to set my training zones.

What have you enjoyed the most in terms of training in the past two weeks?

I have just loved being back training in general, being active and out enjoying the sunshine that has decided to finally arrive in Melbourne these past few weeks. I’m loving that every session I do makes me realise or remember how much I love this sport. I have been the happiest I have been all year since starting my training program and I can’t wait to see how I feel in 3 months time

What challenges have you come across and how have you overcome them?

The first week and a half I find a bit stressful because I had an exam in the middle of the 2nd week back training…. i knew trying to balance full time shift work, studying and training wasn’t going to be easy…. so i definitely struggled for a few days there. It didn’t affect my training so much as my diet…. the training I think actually helped give me that outlet in between studying and working. But my sleeping habits and food choices definitely went out the window leading up to that exam….

Last week coach informed me we were lowering my MAF HR…. which at first I didn’t really take too well after finally thinking I was just starting to progress with my running. i do still feel like I have had to take a massive step back…. but unfortunately I have some ongoing issues with my legs that need to improve before it’s safe to proceed with the running. After thinking about it I did soon agree with the decision and have been reminded to remember to trust the process (and the coach)

Can you explain why Coach Jackie lowered your MAF HR? i.e. why do issues with your legs require a lower MAF HR?
Jackie lowered my MAF because Katee told her too LOL but seriously it was actually because of my injury status and previous burnout, meant really just having to urge on the side of caution. This will allow me to be back fitter and stronger than ever before. And this is not for forever, we will reassess the situation in a few weeks. But like I said earlier with my injuries at the moment my whole body is a bit out of whack so I am only going to do more harm than good by going too hard to soon. So if that means dialing it back a few notches to get things right from the beginning, then that is what I will do.

Have you learnt anything new – whether it be about training or even yourself, if so, what? 

Most concepts I have been somewhat familiar with but i guess now have just been made aware of their importance, like prioritising sleep and self care; to not only get the most out of training but out of your life in general.

I am learning to create some balance in my life, something I haven’t really ever been able to master.

Such great insight into coming back into training and race preparation whilst injury rehabing and adopting the Holistic Endurance foundations As Courtney progresses through her training we will provide you with updates and insights so you can follow her road back to racing in February 2018.
Find out what was next for Courtney – the Functional Movement Assessment.
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