Journey to Geelong: Ambassador Series Part 1

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.

Marion Drew – From Burnt Out to Awesome

Marion Drew lined up for her first Half Ironman at Challenge Shepparton in November. And she could not have been more READY. Immensely consistent training and diligence to holistic factors of mobility, nutrition, mindfulness and recovery had her prepped for an amazing day! Here Marion shares her what lead her to Holistic Endurance, her training in the lead up to the race and most importantly how she found her free spirit. This is one inspiring story.

Over to Marion…

I started training with Holistic Endurance about 15 month’s ago. Basically I was burnt out, stressed and over worked. I had to have everything done perfectly. Training myself was not working, I contacted Coach Katee on the recommendation of Steph Lowe – The Natural Nutritionist – who I had met at The Triathlon Expo in Sydney. This was my new beginning, a chance to become healthy again.

I have always wanted to do a Half Ironman but was not strong or fit enough and had a few injury issues as well. Having a coach was the best thing for me to be able to achieve this goal, especially the way Coach Katee trains me.

Coach Katee’s program has the right balance, it is stress free, the focus is on having a good diet and less is best in training, but the quality of that training is very high. There is no “junk training”, every session has a purpose and there is enough recovery for me to “go” again the next day. The training sessions are challenging but I never reached the stage where I was completely exhausted and had to miss sessions because I was too tired. When I was training myself this used to happen all the time. Coach Katee’s training program certainly has worked well for me.

I had never been involved in sports till the age of 37, so could not run ,swim or ride very well and had never played team sport. My whole life has changed now; you’re never too old to learn new tricks. My biggest fear was swimming, I suffered badly from anxiety in the open water , so to overcome this was huge for me . I could not swim a stroke when I started triathlon, but practice and determination will get you there.

I really enjoyed training for this race , I had never had a structured training program before. It was all new to me. My body and the mind had to adjust, but it was so much better.

Coach Katee knows how to train a burnt out body and get it functioning again. Holistic Endurance know their stuff!! I thought I would never get back to my old self but I trusted my coach and I could feel myself getting stronger with each passing week, without being too exhausted to do all the other things that have to be done, that’s why it worked.

When I was training myself I was always training in the grey zone, I did not know any better, but have learnt a lot since then. I love the Holistic Endurance way of training especially now I’m 46 I am happier, stronger , fitter and recover a whole lot better than I used to .

What were the top 3 things you learnt in the lead up to Shepparton?

The three main things I have learnt through the lead up to this race were:

1 Trust your coach
2 Your body can do extraordinary things
3 The mind will get you through anything if it’s in the right place (this goes for every day life as well!!! )


What did you enjoy the most in terms of training?

The parts I most enjoyed in terms of training were: The structure of my program, it was never boring and allowed me to recover from the harder sessions and seeing great results because I was consistent. Most importantly, work and family never suffered because of my training. The right balance – love it !! 🙂


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

Some of the challenges I came across was dealing with bad weather all the time on the bike, TT ‘s I thought I  could never ride three time trials of 30 minutes each in a 4 hour ride and just being out on the course for 6 to 6.5 hours on race day was scary.
I overcame these challenges by believing in myself, believing in the training I had done and working on building my mental strength to cope with all the things I couldn’t change. (I also have a wonderful husband who would make me go for a ride even though I would say things like “it’s too cold/hot, there are too many cars, the magpies will attack me, It’s too windy etc)

My biggest motivator was being told, “you’ll never do it you’re too slow’. That was a big red flag to me.


What parts of your program have given you the most confidence?

The program itself gave me the confidence that I could do all three disciplines well and finish. The difference with this program is that its designed for me, using MAF heart rate, good recovery and less training but more bang for your buck through quality training.
Mentally in the lead up to this race I just visualised the race going well and believed that I could do this and nothing was going to stop me.


What are the notable differences in your training leading into this race compared with others?

My nutrition has changed heaps, thanks to Steph and Coach Katee, I am fat adapted now and have a lot less sugar in the diet. Plain and simple, eat real fresh whole foods not packaged. Steph’s book “The Real Food Athlete “and her guidance has helped me a lot.


What holistic principle have you found has made the biggest difference in your training/recovery?

The biggest Holistic principle that has helped me back is MAF heart rate when training and recovery. I feel I can do the training without burn out and recovery time is so much better. Especially after this race I have never felt so good.


Who is on your “team” that you would like to acknowledge?
The people that have helped me through this journey my amazing husband Pat, Coach Katee my wonderful coach, Christine, Tom my kids, friends Vanessa, Mel , LLoyd,
Mum , Dad and Steph. I could not do it without their support .

The amazing race result!
The race itself was fantastic I enjoyed every minute off it, you learn a lot  about yourself in races like that, I don’t feelworthless anymore. Long distance is my favourite now. The funny thing is I qualified for the Challenge Championship 2018 Somorin Slovakia, (these things never happen to me), it felt absolutely awesome !!!

Most importantly how did you celebrate post event?

To celebrate I had my family and friends around me, and a really nice cocktail.


My advice to anyone reading this is: follow your dreams have the right people guiding and supporting you and most important have fun. I found ME again and that free spirit I used to be.
Happy Training everyone.

“The Come Back Train” has arrived at the station!

On Sunday, I completed Busselton 70.3, possibly the most eventful Triathlon I’ve ever come across as a coach and athlete. From shark sightings, to cancelled swims, kangaroos knocking an athlete of their bike, to bush fires shortening the IM course and mega heats of ~34 degrees.

The mixed feelings and emotions in the air were palatable. While many athletes had some heart breaking and challenging days – I am feeling very fortunate to have come away with my finishers medal and to finally say my come back “tour” of the past 3 years has come to a close!

I crossed the line at Busso 70.3 yesterday – and it was a culmination of 3 years hard work and diligence of building myself back up from burn out, hormone imbalance, poor gut health, poor recovery and injury.
Most of the hard work lies in pulling my ego in check. Allowing weight gain, loss of performance and stepping away from racing. I’m a competitive spirit, and at times I lost a sense of identity without competition in my life. But it was 100% what I needed to put a mega fire in my belly that will continue to burn for years, even now with 12 years of Triathlon under my belt.

So here is how my day went down…

One of the greatest benefits of working on fat adaptation as an athlete is not having to worry about pre race breakfast! I never stomached it well anyway. So I started my day off with a Bulletproof coffee, that was all I needed 🙂
As a coach, racing on the same day as athletes, or on an IM day is certainly challenging, and had me a little torn mentally. I have chosen in the past to purposely not race when my athlete key races are, but I made an exception for this race. I’m certainly glad I did, but I won’t make the decision lightly if I complete a 70.3 on the day of an IM again if I have athletes racing.


The morning prep went well, we set up transition with my new bike in tow – more about that last min decision later – we did some mobility, and put wetsuits on.
I jumped in for a warm up swim and made my first error for the day (bound to happen). I had put coconut oil on as anti chafe. Which was on my fingers – which then transferred to my goggles lenses. As I was in my wetsuit and we were about to start, I didn’t have anything to wipe them with. I just had to be okay with swimming slightly blind and fogged! I was the lucky winner of an Xterra wetsuit at the Women For Tri Breakfast – one of the many “cardinal rules” I broke during this race in regards to “nothing new on race day”. I think because I had relinquished so many elements of control for this race (unlike me) I was able to roll with the punches like a champ. Racing in a wetsuit I had worn once, for 20min was something I would NEVER do, nor recommend to my athletes! (I had however ripped a big hole in my wetsuit the day prior so this was the best option). I went in with some swim time goal expectations, I haven’t done lots of swim training, however it is my strength of the 3 disciplines, and felt I could achieve a time of 36-38min. In peak condition I would aim for 31-33min. As you will learn through this blog, putting my ego aside for this race was my greatest challenge.


The Swim

We started the swim, self seeded according to pace, a rolling start. This was my first rolling start experience – oh my! So cruisey and relaxed. What a dream. So here I am, relaxed, very happy drafting off one of my athletes, when I hear about 50 whistles start to blow. Life savers were ushering all of us out of the water – telling us to swim towards the jetty.

Shark sighting.

The chopper circled above and it was very evident this shark was close by. Somehow, I didn’t get flustered or worried. There were bunches of people treading water waiting to get up the ladder – but everyone seemed quite calm (on the outside anyway). Once we on the jetty everyone was very confused about what next. Some people started running for transition. And others were saying race organisers were going to have us start the swim again. I stayed on the jetty to find my husband (with no luck) – who went off in the first pace group so had covered a lot more ground. While waiting – I saw what all the fuss was about. “Yep – that’s a shark fin – about 300m off shore.”

Good call Ironman.

I was hopeful they would track the shark and he would make his way back out to sea and the Ironman athletes would be clear for their start an hour later. Unfortunately that was not the case, and the IM swim was cancelled too.

What followed was a ~40min wait on the beach as each of the 70.3 athletes were let through to T1, 2 athletes at a time. To say the vibe was weird, is an understatement.
As a strong swimmer, I was certainly devastated not to swim. But I didn’t get flustered or worried about it. I kept my watch on so I knew how far behind my race nutrition plan would be and what I needed to bring forward.
Then as I ran through to T1, it was the most relaxed and cruisey vibe I had ever experienced. Which I LOVED!


The Bike Leg.

What came next was my next blunder for the day. My bike mount skills are usually on point, no matter how long it has been between races, it’s not something I need to practise. Well, when you buy a new bike on a Thursday before a race. It’s something you should practise! I got the slight wobbles with a flying bike mount, mainly because I was trying to make way through the mount line traffic jam. I gave spectators something to “oooooooo” about – and managed to right myself. Phew, close call.

My bike plan was to ride to wattage of ~120, and heart rate of ~165 bpm – resulting in a bike time of 3:05 -3:08 in an ideal scenario. But I was also realistic and had my plan B of under 3:15.

How did I establish this plan?

In training I’ve conducted FTP test (Functional Threshold Power) and from that I work out a suitable intensity to race at. For a half Ironman, recommended intensity depends on experience and running ability. My intensity factor (IF) was planned for a 82-85% (.82 – .85).
Further to that, I completed an MET (Metabolic Efficiency Test) to determine my bodies ability to access fat for fuel at intensity, and how many grams of carbohydrates I burn at a given heart rate. This helped formulate my race nutrition and heart rate strategy.
I discussed this in further detail in this blog.

Here comes the next example of why I recommend “nothing new on race day”. With my new bike being somewhat exceptional, I put my power metre peddles on Friday for my first ride. (I can’t believe it either!) I noticed almost straight away that my power output was very different. It was higher, and my heart rate was lower. Obviously a good thing, meaning I was able to express more efficiency on this bike. But it meant that my power / wattage race pace plan went out the window. That data was now obsolete. But I remained confident in my plan utilising cadence, speed and heart rate as other metrics to ensure I ticked the “process” goals along the way.

I enjoyed the ride from the first km through to the 90th km. I was AMAZED, I was able to ride this new bike, in only a tri kit on a saddle I had ridden once, without issues or pain. (Again – seriously – who am I?). I have a bit of chafe, but I only felt it post race and could also be from the run. My pacing was spot on, here is the data excerpt: 

Now, I should point out. This didn’t “just happen”. I fought for this result. I stayed immensely focused the entire 3hours and 6mins. I focused on my deep belly breaths, my peddle stroke and my posture. I could have easily relaxed a little or eased off a little – my brain and legs certainly wanted me to. I was comfortably uncomfortable in my effort. and when it got tough, my trusty mantra from back in the day slipped back to the forefront of my find “I am Strong, Fit, Powerful”.

My power output was sitting 20 watts higher than the plan, particularly into the wind. So that certainly confirmed the old numbers were obsolete.
From there, I just took note of average power each 10km “lap” and used that as my metric to stay focused on. I noticed my heart rate was 5beats higher than I had planned (or wanted it to be).

Because the race excitement / nerves had not been released out in the swim, I noticed riders were really going for it initially, I had to calm myself down and talk myself into letting people pass by, knowing that if I stuck to my plan, it would come back to me later on.
At this point I made a mental note that my fuelling plan would need to be adjusted slightly. I knew that the amount of carbohydrates I burn per hour at 165 bpm vs ~170 bpm was quite different.

This meant I would need to eat my words. I am constantly telling athletes during their pre race planning chats “I don’t care how much you don’t feel like your fuel, because it’s hot or ‘xyz’ – you will need to force it in and suck it up”. I disliked my own advice.

This CHO plan was much higher than I would normally plan for. This was based on my lack of current fitness, comparative to my previous athletic ability, knowing my heart rate would be higher. But also being early in the summer season, I wouldn’t be well heat adapted – which puts the heart rate up higher. Forecast was 34 deg. It definitely hit 34 degrees.

I don’t quite remember when it started, but out of nowhere I started regurgitating my fuel. It wasn’t pretty, but the chicks drafting off the back weren’t there for much longer!
It’s a common story I’ve heard from athelte’s at Busselton. Some speculation to the country water perhaps? Whatever the case, fuel was constantly sitting at the back of my throat threatening to make it’s way back out.

I thought back to a friends first IM at Melbourne. Where she vomitted, violently, the ENTIRE 180km and still ran an exceptional marathon. It was that memory that kept me going, I didn’t worry about the vomitting, and kept force fuelling, which I hated but knew it’s what I had to do.
Because after all, If I didn’t do it, how on earth would me athletes ever listen to me? 😛

It didn’t get worse, and it wasn’t a huge amount so I knew I’d be okay.
In the end the result was;

*I spent 61min above my cross over point of 173 bpm increasing CHO needs by 15-20g.

The main difference being additional sodium, electrolytes and a sprinkle of additional CHO for the higher heart rate & delayed start. I also knew that if my heart rate was higher on the bike than planned, the same would be true for the run. So it was important to “back fill” in prep for the run.

I fought hard in the last 20km to bring my average pace bang onto my goal of 29 kph, and a 3:06. A tail wind made it a fun ride home. I think I was doing a little dance in my saddle at this point. There was some out loud talking to myself of “you are actually doing this” – “you are nailing it.” “See, you DID surprise yourself.”

My dismount was much more eloquent than my mount, thank goodness.

The Run. The Great Unknown (for me).

Here was the plan;
A: Be able to run 10km, non stop, niggle free, under a 173 bpm.**
B: Be able to run 7km, non stop, niggle free, under a 173 bpm.**
Thereafter the plan was to switch to a jog/walk strategy of 9min jog, 1min walk. I’ve used this effectively many times before, for myself and with athletes.

**173 is my “Cross Over Point” – where I burn more carbohydrates than fats for fuel.

Even though the plan was in place, the likelihood of having to power walk the 21.1km or DNF was a reality. The story behind why, is a long one, and actually relates to the new bike story. So that’s for another day.

With the minimal run training behind me, (this is a strategy to avoid previous injury issues) my success on the run was going to come down to how bad I wanted it mentally. And to trust my cross training in the gym, bike and hiking to transfer across.

To say I impressed myself is an understatement. My form felt good, I was feeling better than any of my training ROB’s. Unlike on the bike, I avoid looking at my pace out of ‘fear’ that I will see some uber slower figures than I would like. That just didn’t happen.
I consistently sat around 6:30 -6:40 for the first 10km and refused to walk even though I REALLY wanted too. I had 2 x brisk walks of about 15 seconds through aid stations to make sure I got enough water and ICE.

At 10.5 km I gave myself a walk break of about 30seconds. Then I was off again. I was going along quite well, so pushed through to 12km before needing to take extended walk breaks.
Now, when I opt for this strategy, I am still powering through, my posture is tall and it’s a BRISK walk. It makes the transition back to running much easier.

I stuck to nutrition plan even though I still felt ill and there were mini vomits and big burps.
I noticed I was dumping a lot more salt than I am used too (white patches on my suit and legs). So I increased my planned intake of Salt Stix Chewables as a precaution.

At about 12km the knee pain started. It didn’t take hold and I was able to keep my form, focus on toe off, glut activation and hip clearance. At 15km a blister shot an EPIC sharp pain up my foot.
(oh, did I mentioned I also wore brand new socks?!) Again, needed to make sure my gait wasn’t affected which would then make my knee feel worse. Ironically, the knee giving me grief was my “good” knee.

Spectators and volunteers were giving me a lot of energy and cheers as I seemed to be “flying” in comparison to the number of walkers /shufflers around me. It was 34 degree’s and it was a tough day for all involved. There was one move I made that I feel saved my run. After I had finished the Vfuel in a small flask that planned for lap 1, I had planned on disposing at our club tent. But I hung on to it.

At each aid station, I grabbed a cup of ice – put the ice in my flask which gave me cold water through to each aid station and made the world of difference. My cooling strategy also involves pouring water on my head and down my back. Then I also chew on ice. I also store some ice for later down my crop top to chew between aid stations. But mostly, I don’t get caught up in my head about the heat. I don’t give it my attention or worry. This makes the greatest difference.

But by 18km I was in a fair amount of pain and my form was impacted (check out finishing video here – Katee finishing) By then, my mental toughness was in top gear and I wasn’t going to give in.
I kept fighting, I recalled all my reasons “WHY’. At times I had to stop myself from thinking about some of them to hold back the tears. It’s been a tough 2017 for me. And this race was a celebration of putting that all behind me, showing myself that my strength and courage still exist.

Because the run was so unknown I couldn’t really set a time goal. It was hard, but I had to be okay with the following mental conundrum:
I would run 21km for the first time in 3.5 years which is a massive and fabulous achievement regardless of the time.
I would run my slowest 21km of all time.

I put my lofty A goal out there to run 6:50 pace, which would be a 2:24.
To put some context in place, my previous half marathon times are around 1:47 and HIM run times have been between 1:57 – 2:10 for the majority. Including some damn hilly and hot courses. So as you can see, I had some serious brain re-wiring to do.

My B goal was sub 2:30.

I ended up completing the 21.1km (WIN) in a time of 2:29:24.
Side note: Heart rate goal NOT achieved! 180 bpm average! Ouch.

Run Nutrition Plan vs Actual:
*Not including 3 sips of Coke from 15km onwards.

When I calculate total race ingestion and total time (not including my short swim away from the shark and subsequent wait time) this works out to 42g of CHO per hour.
My average heart rate across both Bike & run was 170 bpm, at this heart rate my actual needs (based on lab testing) are about 28g CHO per hour. In summary, I had enough fuel and this plan worked well for me. I should mention I didn’t have any gastrointestinal upset – thank you Vfuel!

To Wrap Up

I deserved this achievement on a mental level, I earned it. On a physiological level, I didn’t do the training required for an exceptional performance, but my expectations of the race where built abound this and I am still very proud. Proud because I had plenty of reasons to give up this year, but I pushed through and I made it to the start line, which was my main goal.

What’s Next You Ask?
I’m not a fan of this question so soon after a race but what I can tell you is, this is just the beginning. To have finally achieved a HIM without major niggles/ injuries and execute a well thought out plan, lays a very good foundation for the season. Knowing what I achieved on Sunday, with a VERY interrupted year, and minimal training – I look forward to seeing what I can do with a substantial training base behind me.
I will continue my strength training and do what works for me, which is low run volume.


Thank you to everyone who has been part of this come back journey. I have an incredible team of people behind me. And wouldn’t have made it to the start or finish line without the help of;

Mick Gray: My husband, best friend, occasional coach and #1 support. You picked me up off the floor in moments of despair too many times this year. But your love and dedication never faulted.

Coach Jackie & Kirsty: Without the support of these ladies behind the scenes of Holistic Endurance – I would not have made it to the start line. There simply isn’t enough gratitude for their support.

Greg Dea, Sports Physiotherapist: From the professional development, to the injury management and to then being “the one” to FINALLY find the fault in my old bike that had been leading to majority of my issues – you are exceptional. A big thanks also goes to Greg for the support and improvements he has provided many HE athletes.

The Virtus team: Lachie, Mitch & Cam. For getting me under the bar, lifting heavy stuff so I could feel strong, fit and powerful again. Despite not being able to run for a long period of time.

Ash Law: Myotherapist. Thank you for putting up with my random niggles and being persistent in helping to put the puzzle pieces together.

Brad Atkinson: Sports Chiropractor. For being so invested in me (since 2007!) Being accepting of all the random patterns and niggles my body throws up on a weekly basis and helping me roll with the punches.

My coaching mentors and other health practitioners: Renae Campbell, Bevan Mckinnon, Kate Troup, Steph Lowe and Jennifer Koch.

Vfuel & Tegyn Angel: I am incredibly stoked to have Vfuel as a Holistic Endurance sponsorship partner. To race without gut issues or energy lags is just phenomenal for me. But also for our athletes.

My family. It’s been an incredibly powerful year for our family, with major highs and devastating blows. We are closer and stronger than ever before. When it got tough, I ran for my Mum, who constantly inspires strength in me. I ran for my baby niece Sequoia, all the way over in California. She is shaping up to be a courageous and adventurous tiny human and I want her to look up to her strong “Aunty Katee”.

My athletes, friends & the HE family. For years I’ve coached you guys to exceptional performances and through challenging times. Your achievements have fuelled me along the way while I wasn’t able to race. You gave me that sense of pride and accomplishment while I was unable to compete myself. Thank you for your support pre, during and post race. I also raced for you guys on Sunday. As your leader and inspiration, I was motivated to do you all proud.

Road to Busso: Introducing Laura Anderson

ROAD TO BUSSO: Interview Series.
Over the next 6 days we will be celebrating “Team HE” with our Road to Busso interview series. We will be taking you inside the training and mindset of our athletes as they prepare to tackle the Ironman and Half Ironman events at Ironman Western Australia in Busselton – aka “Busso”
Meet Laura!
Laura came to Holistic Endurance seeking guidance as she set sail for her first half Ironman at Challenge Melbourne earlier this year. Now see is prepped to toe the line again, lets she how she feels second time around……


Busselton will be your 2nd Half Ironman. How have you been feeling leading in race day this time?

The second one has been more of a challenge! I think this is because I had to train through Melbourne’s cold miserable winter! And there is also the added pressure I put on myself to perform better than my first 70.3!


What have you enjoyed the most in terms of training?

I’ve enjoyed the feeling of being ‘fit’ – that feeling of being comfortable during my longer sessions.


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

I’ve taken on board post-grad studies on top of work this year, so it’s been a challenge to fit it all in with my training! I’ve had to refine my time management skills and prioritise what’s more important, which at times has meant that I’ve had to forego some training sessions. To overcome this my training has had to be ‘smarter’ (thanks coach)!


Top 3 learnings throughout your lead up?

  1. Training in Melbourne winter is not my idea of fun
  2. Training smart rather than training more is much nicer on my body
  3. Training is more fun in matching kits/socks!


What parts of your program have given you the most confidence?

Brick sessions make me feel good about my performance! I enjoy the feeling of running off the bike (probably because I’m dying to get off the bike after 90km)!!




What are the notable differences in your training leading into this race compared with others?

The difference leading into my second 70.3 has just been more time to build a base. Last time I only had 3 months to prepare, so I’m hoping the extra preparation allows me to push my body a bit more come race day.


Mentally have you done anything different in the lead up to this race?

I’ve had the chance to compete in hot weather at the Noosa Tri, which has helped me to mentally prepare for how I might feel at Busso. I found it’s very much a mental challenge to keep on pushing when the heat makes you feel slow.


Nutrition wise has there been any changes? What are the differences?

I was happy with my nutrition plan in my first 70.3 so I am sticking to what works! I have however decided to change my gels to VFuel – delicious flavours!


What holistic principle have you found has made the biggest difference in your training/recovery?

Legs up the wall is a great tool to recover and de-stress!


What is your ‘why?

I enjoy the challenge! And why do 1 sport when you can do all three?!


What is planned for the post race celebrations?

Relaxing by the pool/beach, and a winery tour!


Thanks Laura – wishing you all the best for your second half Ironman!



Keen for more inspiring stories from our athletes on their Road to Busso – this is the place to go – Road to Busso: Interview Series

Road to Busso: Introducing Jaimie-Lee Brown

ROAD TO BUSSO: Interview Series.
Over the next 6 days we will be celebrating “Team HE” with our Road to Busso interview series. We will be taking you inside the training and mindset of our athletes as they prepare to tackle the Ironman and Half Ironman events at Ironman Western Australia in Busselton – aka “Busso”
Meet Jaimie-Lee   | JLB
Jaimie has been a big part of the HE family for 3 years now. She has attended every single Training Camp that we have run. In that time we have seen Jaimie’s ability go from strength to strength, while also learning many sports psychology tools along the way. She was awarded the “Consistency & Persistence Award” in July at our Gold Coast awards evening. Which sums up Jaimie perfectly. She is meticulous in her planning, but she is also good at chilling out, gaining perspective and letting things go when needed.
Despite some personal challenges earlier this year, Jaimie has forged ahead to have an incredible build towards her first Ironman. As a skilled Strength & Conditioning coach, the incorporation of heavy lifting into her program has been integral to her success both on a performance level, but also for injury prevention. Along with her ability to embrace each and every Holistic principle you can think of – it’s no wonder she has been so successful.

This is your first IRONMAN! How have you been feeling leading in?
I feel like I’ve experienced every emotion possible leading in. But overall, one week out from my FIRST ever Ironman, I’m genuinely really pumped. The hard yards have been done and I feel confident within my training. I thought I’d be feeling the complete opposite but I have seriously loved the whole process.
Have you done anything different in the lead up compared to previous long course races (other than anger Km’s!)?
Yup, I sure have.
Nutrition has been a big game changer for me. Really dialing into fat adaptation and nutrient timing, not only has helped shake a pesky 5kg that I feel like I haven’t been able to loose in what feels like forever, but I believe has made me more efficient while training and for race day.
I had my V02 max tested, this really nutted out my training zones, it took away any guesswork. Since then I feel like my fitness had really increased. It also took out the guesswork with my nutrition as we could work out exactly how much nutrition I need to consume during long training sessions and race day.
Earlier in the year I started having acupuncture, for many years I’ve suffered horrific migraines which could really disrupt my work, training and overall general wellbeing. Since finding Elisbeth from Inner West Health, I truly believe she has helped settle my hormones and helped with production of blood for the demands of my training, something no doctor has ever been able to help me with.

What have you enjoyed the most in terms of training?
Showing my body what it has been capable of, week in and week out. I’m truly in owe of what I have done over the past 6 months. After my partner Scott had a work-site accident in April, I had about a month of training completely. I really didn’t think I had it in me to train for an Ironman after what he had been through. Something changed in us both after that experience, it showed us that life is just to precious. It took me awhile to really get back into loving training again. But I love that Scott has supported me more than I could have every imagined.
What challenges have you come across and how have you overcome them?
Probably the thing I found the hardest was feeling selfish or guilty for prioritising training over other important things. I tend to be a bit of a people pleaser therefore when putting Ironman first was hard at times. A lot of sessions spent on your own didn’t help the situation either as I could get inside my own head. A conversation I’ve had with Coach Katee many of times that it is ok to be doing this and that this isn’t a long term thing, there is a finish date.
But overall I’ve really tried to just embrace every part of this journey. Its a commitment I’ve made and the end in so close now, I know it will be worth it.
Have you learnt anything new – whether it be about training or even yourself, if so, what?
I am surrounded by the most AMAZING people. Not that I didn’t think I was before, but Ironman has amplified this. The support I’ve had from Scott, my work colleagues, my clients, my coach,  my friends and my fur babies has been incredible.
I love riding even more than what I did before now. Getting on the bike seriously sets my soul on fire.
And swimming, I’m pretty keen on swimming now 😉

A few of your long training days and a key race didn’t go to plan, tell us about those. What did you change/learn?
Ahh Sunny Coast 70.3, yep that was a shocker (you can read about that here). But honestly I feel like it was a blessing in disguise, the things that didn’t go to plan that day I’ve worked super hard to ensure they won’t happen again. At the time its devastating, but its given me strength and motivation throughout many of my sessions leading into Ironman.
You never want a session not to go to plan, you invest so much time and energy (and money, Ironman is bloody expensive)  into them but when they do I just try and use it as an experience to learn and grow. How we respond to those ‘bad’ sessions are more important than just brushing them to the side, something I am guilty of doing in the past.

What parts of your program have given you the most confidence?
Definitely my weekend sessions. I remember way back when my Saturday program went from a 3.5hour ride to a 4.5 hour ride with a 15min run off the bike. I’ll never forget how exhausted I felt. How the hell I was I going to do an Ironman?!?
But after weeks and weeks of progressively longer sessions or  riding, running and swimming more I feel so ready!
Comparatively, to most IM athletes, you have had an exceptional build and consistency with training. What holistic principle have you found has made the biggest difference in your training/recovery?
I believe the holistic principles is why I’ve had such a consistent build. There is so much more to an Ironman journey than just the training sessions. It goes far beyond that. I knew I’d be able to get through the training and I always wanted to get through it injury free. I’ve heard so many stories of people pulling out of endurance events due to injuries, some that could potentially been avoidable. For me strength training has helped keep my body in check, my strength numbers have continually increased alongside my training load. I had a huge focus on heavy functional lifting plus activation, mobility and stability exercises to help eliminate any tightness from the repetitiveness of the training.
My training program was based around my menstrual cycle, for me having my adaptation (deload) week when it was that time of the month, meant I was able to really recover well without over doing it. Happy hormones, thanks Coach Katee!
I most proud of my recovery protocols as I felt that being consistent with them is what kept me going. Sleep (quality sleep), stretching, rolling, legs up the wall, soaking my legs, massage, yoga and taking my dogs for a walk were some of my favourite parts of my week. It meant 30-60mins of that day I could switch off from the world and training and just be really present with myself and how I was feeling. IM training is a busy time and I didn’t want to use that as an excuse to not get these things done, everyone is busy it comes down to priority.
Off the back of race day disappointment at Sunshine Coast 70.3, you’ve implored more heat training protocols. Tell everyone about what you did and the differences you’ve felt leading into Busso….
Unfortunately training in Melbourne’s winter didn’t prep me very well for the Sunshine Coast’s heat. Since then Coach Katee has helped my implement heat training protocols as Melbourne still was being a little slow with the warm weather. From the beginning of November we started incorporating sauna sessions (including infrared) before or after sessions to help me adapt. This would raise my core body temperature and stimulate a pre dehydration affect, the thing for me is I would want to gulp down water, but was more important for me gradually sip on water to rehydrate. A
lso increasing my water/electrolyte intake in the morning/evenings to eliminate the chance of starting the day dehydrated. (Read How to Prepare for a Hot Race).
The most surprising thing you learnt in your journey to Busso?
That I feel this ready. I honestly thought I’d be stressing myself out with feelings of nerves and anticipation. But I cannot wait to get over there and get it done!
Who is on your “team” that you would like to acknowledge?
Take a seat, I feel like there are a few….
In no particular order for my partner Scott and Coach Katee. These two have both been there for me more than I could have ever expected.
Scott has been there to pick up the slack while I’m training or too tired to move when I get home. He has listened to me complain, whinge, listened to my over the top phone calls. He’s cooks, cleans, helps financially. He is part of the reason why I am doing this and don’t think I could have done it without him.
Coach Katee has been amazing to be coached by. Her knowledge and experience has what has driven me to keep pushing through. I 100% trust and believe in the way she programs for me and the principles of Holistic Endurance. The check ins, the advice, the friendship. I’ve enjoyed it all.
Coach Sarah has also played a huge part. Up until Sarah’s maternity leave I had been coached by her for nearly 2.5 years. I’m forever grateful for the time, energy and friendship I gained from Sarah.
Revolution Personal Training, the staff; Luke, Kiara, Nath, Daz Jane, Quincee Matt and Michael and our members. They have been so supportive from the beginning. They continually inspire me in their own goals and dreams. My work pals are the first to offer a chop out when I need it. I’m so grateful to work there and be surrounded by them everyday.
The HE crew, old and new. In particular Andrew, Dom, Dayna, Marie and Caroline, always checking in on me, joining in on training sessions and just being my rocks to share stories and advice with.
My best friend Sara, who is flying over to watch. Her constant love and support while keeping me up with the goss while I’m out training.
Shaun my myotherapist, who has helped keep this body in tip top condition, He has shared so much of his knowledge with me along the way.
There have been so many people, its hard to stop there.

What is planned for the post race celebrations?
CHILL OUT! I cannot wait to sleep in, do as I feel. Spend time with everyone over in Busso and share the celebrations with them. Everyone has worked so hard, I’m proud of everyone!
What a Road to Busso! We cannot wait to see what Jaimie-Lee brings to her Busso Ironman race.
Race Report Holistic Endurance
Keen for more inspiring stories from our athletes on their Road to Busso – this is the place to go – Road to Busso: Interview Series

Road to Busso: Introducing Matt Kerrish

ROAD TO BUSSO: Interview Series.
Over the next 6 days we will be celebrating “Team HE” with our Road to Busso interview series. We will be taking you inside the training and mindset of our athletes as they prepare to tackle the Ironman and Half Ironman events at Ironman Western Australia in Busselton – aka “Busso”

Matt Kerrish came to Holistic Endurance just 6 months ago as a seasoned Ironman. He came with a very specific goal in mind. When an athlete has so much experience and aerobic base – the programming and coaching needs to be very specific to create change. Matt was told straight up, he would need to be okay with doing things differently, embracing change and different way of Ironman training. To his credit, he has embraced the different training, the “pulling up” running pace/ heart rate – along with recovery methods and nutritional changes. This Sunday is going to be an incredible opportunity for Matt to express his potential that has absolutely been evident through his training improvements.


As a seasoned veteran of Ironman, you are not a stranger to this race distance. How have you been feeling leading in?

Busso will be IM number 11 for me and number 4 at this venue so it’s an environment I’m comfortable with. It’s a beautiful swim to do and it is a flat bike/ run course, which always helps the bigger chaps like myself. Having said that I haven’t raced since April 2016 when I did IM South Africa and I’ve only done 1 half since South Africa until now for various reasons.

Over the last few months leading into Busso, I haven’t really given my feelings much thought. Each week seems to just roll into the next when trying to balance work/ training/ life stuff. It has just been a matter of ticking the sessions and goals off as best I can week in, week out so that I can give myself every chance of achieving the goals that I would like to achieve from this particular race. Having said that, I do think about and reiterate to myself the sorts of outcomes I want from the day.

Right now, 9 days out, I’m feeling nervous for what lies ahead but at the same time I’m also excited by the challenge of the day. I really just want to get onto the beach in front of the Goose café when I can get into my ‘calm’.


You are coming back to do it yet again, how does it feel this time compared to your last IM build?

This will be my first IM with Holistic Endurance and Coach Katee but I’m still nervous about it all. I don’t think the thoughts of ‘have I done enough?’ or ‘should I have done more?’ ever leave an IM athlete but I do know as I roll back through Training Peaks over the last 6 months that I am actually better prepared and more focused than I have ever been before for an Ironman.

Have you done anything different in the lead up?  Are any of your strategies different this time? What have you enjoyed the most in terms of training?

The biggest difference this time around is that with each training session I’ve done I can relate to and understand what the goal of the session is supposed to be and what impact it will have on me later on. Then, there is the constant review and feedback. In the past with other coaches, they’ve put together a program and say ‘Long Run for 2hrs’ and that never actually meant anything to me. The detail and the ‘why’ in each session now allows me to be more invested. From an outcome perspective, it is much easier to know if I’ve actually nailed a session or not. A great coach has been paramount here as well. A big plus goes to Coach Katee, in whom I trust as I really feel that she has got a vested interest/ buy in to my Ironman as well and so that makes me more committed to make sure I get each session done as I can.

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

My biggest fear still remains that I do not consider myself a runner- I’d rather swim the marathon than run it! So, every time I step out for a run, I have to remind myself of the session goals and outcomes. Particularly hard to do at the beginning was to run way, way slower than what I had in the past but now I understand and appreciate why. And I am seeing the benefits of that as well.

Other than that, there is always work issues to balance and stuff going on in the background which can be mentally draining at times.

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

I’ve learnt a ton of new stuff and I have to credit Coach Katee for that. I’m not interested in data and when I read Coach Katee’s bio on the HE website, it was her that I wanted as my coach. On top of that, my diet has changed, no more Milo (boo!!) but on the plus side, there are foods that I felt I shouldn’t eat in the past, but now can enjoy.

I think the MET (Metabolic Efficiency Testing) has been another big plus. I’ve had VO2 testing done in the past and that comes out with a number that I find disappointing but now, with the analysis that Katee has done, there is a genuine benchmark that can be used that underpins all of the running sessions that I do. So, what might appear to have been a constraint on performance in the past, I can now see as a benchmark or baseline for the future.

A few of your ‘hit-out’ sessions and key prep race at Shepp didn’t go 100% to plan, tell us about those. What did you change/learn?

Yes, that’s been a real frustration. At Shepp, I had a pretty good swim and a solid bike, despite puncturing. But on the run I fell apart and I beat myself up pretty good whilst slogging it around that course. I knew that I could have/ should have done better. After the race, Katee took a risk and sat me down pretty much straight away to dissect it and it became apparent that I hadn’t followed the nutrition plan on the bike as well as I should have. So there was perhaps an obvious issue identified.

Driving back to Adelaide post race also allowed me to think. I’d changed runners to a same brand, different shoe that I thought might provide more comfort for the style of runner I am. I ran in them last week end and had another blow out with leg pain, so those runners are gone and it’s back to the old faithfuls.

During the following week, I had a couple of really good run sessions and that came down to a positive mental approach to it. I have to constantly remind myself of the positive, forget about the past negative, and remain ‘in the present’ moment. The best way I can do that is to remind myself when I am out running – ‘run tall, run strong’.

What parts of your program have given you the most confidence?

I think for me, with the swim and the bike, it has been the constant testing and re-evaluating. The 1k time trial swim and the FTP (Functional Threshold Power) sessions on the bike really have allowed me to see some improvements over the last 6 months. If adjustments have been required, they can be made with a degree of confidence. Added to that, is the constant feedback and review sessions. Another aspect has been the long bikes with a run off – being able to tick those sessions off reasonably consistently without feeling totally stuffed afterwards will prove to be invaluable come race day.

With running, I have had some great wins along the way and so, I am reasonably comfortable with the pacing plan that has been developed that I am going to utilise to get me through on the day.

What are the notable differences in your training leading into this race compared with others?

I think the volume of training seems to have been less but at times, the intensity level has been dialed up, albeit short, sharp and shiny. I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time on the mag trainer as I have this past 6 months.

And as I have mentioned earlier, the detailed ‘how & why’ of each session has been super beneficial to me.

MAF (low heart rate) running for extended periods as well.

Mentally have you done anything different in the lead up to this race?

Early on with Coach Katee, I set out some goals that I wanted to achieve, specifically at Busso this year- and it’s not to podium. Those goals have remained in my thoughts all the way through and have provided an underlying support during each week of training. I still am nervously excited and I can’t change or stop those feelings, but I am also aware that once I get onto the beach- all will be good.

Nutrition wise has there been any changes? What are the differences?

I’m well aware that I probably don’t eat enough at times, nor do I eat the right stuff all of the time- be it a lack or organisation on my part or whatever. But the types of foods (high fat/ low carb) I am eating now has changed a lot and I have to say that I can feel it in the sessions and recovery. Plus I don’t have paperclips thrown at me when I fall asleep at my desk in the afternoons.

Who is on your “team” that you would like to acknowledge?

Mostly Coach Katee, without her input and guidance as a professional Tri coach, I’m pretty certain I’d be ‘hoping’ for a good day out rather than going in with a mild case of ‘expectations’ as I plan to next week.

What holistic principle have you found has made the biggest difference in your training/recovery?

I guess I am still coming to terms with some of this stuff but the constant reminders to relax, roll, stretch etc have been beneficial for me. The ‘legs up the wall’ sometimes has been the 5 or so minutes to myself that otherwise I might not enjoy.

Having read Phil Maffetone’s book (the MAF principles); having that program formally put in place for me combined with a better diet has been fantastic also.

Most importantly, what is planned for the post race celebrations?

I don’t know really……hopefully, a pizza and a few beers post race, I’d like to get to meet some of the HE athletes from elsewhere and enjoy their stories of the day but its back to work for me on Wednesday. Aside from that, I’m hoping to enjoy a relaxed Dec/ Jan period, Festive 500 on Strava, coffee rides, the TDU and in late Jan I’m off to Sri Lanka with my sister.

But some plans for 2018 have already started to be formulated….


With a great sense of reflection and knowing where his strengths lie, coupled with well-prepared race and nutrition plans, we cannot wait to see how Matt’s race day unfolds!


Keen for more inspiring stories from our athletes on their Road to Busso – this is the place to go – Road to Busso: Interview Series

Road to Busso Holistic Endurance Andrew Strickland

Road to Busso: Introducing Andrew Stickland

ROAD TO BUSSO: Interview Series.
Over the next 6 days we will be celebrating “Team HE” with our Road to Busso interview series. We will be taking you inside the training and mindset of our athletes as they prepare to tackle the Ironman and Half Ironman events at Ironman Western Australia in Busselton – aka “Busso”.

Meet Andrew! Fondly known as “Stricko”

Stricko sought out the support of Holistic Endurance after much persuasion from his wife and loyal HE athlete – Dom Strickland aka the Kit Queen. One year ago, he completed his first Half Ironman, and now a few days out from his first Ironman, he is definitely a different athlete. Most robust, super lean, healthy, powerful, mobile and skilled across all 3 disciplines.
With the use of a power meter Stricko has been able to dial in his specificity greatly and the gains in his bike performance have been a great measure of his performance gains. Along with continued improvement of his aerobic base and MAF heart rate – he is in tip top shape for Sunday.
Over to Stricko:
This is your first IRONMAN! How have you been feeling leading in?

To start with I really didn’t know if I could complete a Ironman distance and certainly have had a few self doubts along the way. From about two months out I started to believe I have got this, after surviving some of the long training sessions my confidence grew.

Have you done anything different in the lead up compared to previous long course races (other than longer Km’s!)? 

I certainly have done a lot more km!! The biggest change has been joining HE and having a specific program to follow. My training has been based on specific heart rate and power zones mixed with some short hard interval VO2 sessions. The biggest thing was having my VO2 threshold, lactate threshold and heart rate zones tested a few times. From this I learnt my training in the past had been in the wrong zones.

What have you enjoyed the most in terms of training?

I have enjoyed growing confidence on the bike. I was very disappointed in my bike leg a year ago at Shep in my first half Ironman race and I wanted one discipline to be proud of, then in my next half I got blown off my bike and was not able to finish the race thanks to missing skin and a cracked frame so I have really enjoyed building on this weakness. I also like the social aspect of riding and that it can take you anywhere.

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

I have been very lucky and have not had any major injuries. I have found a great person for massage who has been keeping my body moving at times when I thought I couldn’t move anymore!! The other challenges has been balancing everything with training, family and work. Last of all was having to train through winter which I had never done before. Heading out to run or ride at 1 degree become normal at times in winter thankfully my wife insisted I bought good quality training clothes.

You have crammed A LOT into your IM build – from Europe trips for work, to a stupendous amount of weddings and bucks parties – How did you make it all work? 
When it didn’t work – what balls did you have to drop?

Through the last few months I have had 5 weddings in the lead up to the race including being best man at one a week before. On top of this, work seems to continue to get busier and overseas work trips have caused training to be interrupted. I know it is not ideal but I feel like I sacrificed sleep more than anything. I had been committed to too many things and managed to do just about everything although recovery has suffered and my work probably has a bit too.

I have never been a morning person and I have done almost all of the training with very few early mornings. Instead I can often be found training late at night.

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

I learnt that the body can do amazing things, looking a long way ahead on a training program can be very daunting and filled me with self doubt thinking I couldn’t complete that load or certain sessions. Simple solution for each session was to just start the session and go for 15-30 min then re assess which got me through a lot of workouts when I didn’t even want to start.

What parts of your program have given you the most confidence?

Using training peaks has given me confidence and drive as I became a bit addicted to watching my CTL numbers (learn about this here) and it motivated me to keep doing sessions. The bike sessions have given me the most confidence

You had an absolute BLINDER of a race at Challenge Shepparton a few weeks back. How did that race change your outlook for Ironman? (Blinder = 49min Person Best time!)Road to Busso Holistic Endurance Andrew Strickland

Having had a talk with Coach Katee before the race I was told I could go for it in the Swim and have a real crack in the bike so this got me excited. I had to be careful not to get injured as Busso was only 3 weeks later.

My goal from the start of training had been to have a bike time I could be proud of, and I wanted to crack 2:30 (official time 2:30:12 on bike split)

Having pushed hard on the bike I still managed to feel good on the run so this gave me a lot of confidence I could put it all together and showed the training is really working.

Nutrition wise has there been any changes? What are the differences?

Nutrition is probably my big downfall – I had improved my eating a lot with home delivered meals from Youfoodz but I still have a lot of guilty pleasures.

I now don’t eat breakfast and I burn fat to start the day every time I exercise which is a big change for me, I now pay a lot more attention to having a race nutrition plan and not just winging it.

What holistic principle have you found has made the biggest difference in your training/recovery?

Biggest thing is that you do not need to follow the crowd and to questions what happens in training. The sessions for me are about quality not quantity. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what you should be doing and how to do it but i found following the HE model has worked for me.

The most surprising thing you learnt in your journey to Busso?

I learnt just how important the mental side is and the body can do amazing things. There is nothing normal about competing in a full Ironman race.

Who is on your “team” that you would like to acknowledge?

My wife Dom has by far been my biggest support, after that would be the Nunawading triathlon club who make an individual sport really feel like a team sport. I have had a number of training buddies along the way especially Adrian, Jaimie, Jonathan, Laura and Dom. Coach Sarah has been coaching me from the start along with a lot of support from Coach Katee which has been great.

What is planned for the post race celebrations?

I have the Parents and Parents in law coming to Busso, I will have 5 days post race in WA spending time in Margaret river going to wineries and breweries then heading to Fremantle. Not sure if I will be back on the bike for a few days post race! So will be celebrating with family.

With a solid lead in to Busso, Andrew’s first Ironman is set to be a cracker.

Road to Busso Holistic Endurance Andrew Strickland

Keen for more inspiring stories from our athletes on their Road to Busso – this is the place to go – Road to Busso: Interview Series

Road to Busso: Introducing Raul Cox

ROAD TO BUSSO: Interview Series.
Over the next 6 days we will be celebrating “Team HE” with our Road to Busso interview series. We will be taking you inside the training and mindset of our athletes as they prepare to tackle the Ironman and Half Ironman events at Ironman Western Australia in Busselton – aka “Busso”

Meet Raul!

A single dad to two kids from Tasmania, Raul began his Road to Busso with Holistic Endurance earlier this year with a goal ‘to give myself the best chance of arriving on race day prepared and ready to enjoy the  race‘.

Raul felt that he could really benefit from a coaching relationship, particularly one that takes a whole of life approach and can take into consideration his own personal circumstances.

Work, family/parenting responsibilities and health issues did not stop Raul, he has remained consistent, with honest and open communication with Coach Jackie which has ultimately lead to a successful journey to the start line of his first Half Ironman!


Busselton with be your first Half Ironman.How have you been feeling leading in race day?

I’ve been feeling a mixture of excitement, anticipation and some nerves.  I just have to read about the course, my flight schedule or check the weather forecast for race day and my heart rate jumps!  But most of all I do feel ready… race day is going to go off!

What have you enjoyed the most in terms of training?

Its hard to pin point just one thing… there are many.  I’ve enjoyed learning more about my body, its strengths and what I need to work on post Busso and for my future triathlons.  I’ve enjoyed needing to get more gear, although I resisted the temptation to get a new bike!  I’ve enjoyed training and sharing the journey with friends who are also going across to race in WA.  But most of all I’ve enjoyed the lifestyle consistent training is giving me.  Sure I’m tired at times, but I never thought I’d get to where I am, almost at the starting line of a 70.3.

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

Mmm… how long have you got!  The biggest challenges for me have been time (I’m a single parent) and the need to prioritise recovery as much as swim, bike and run.  I’ve managed the time element with the help of structuring my training around my availability (and doing lots of indoor bike sessions… I don’t want to even look at the wind trainer for at least a month post Busso).  Early morning sessions are a must as evenings are for family time, housework (humph) and recovery (my kids roll their eyes when I have my legs up the wall!).  Recovery has played a huge roll in getting me fit… and happy.  Equally important has been massage a great physio (I’ve now made friends with dry needling, in fact I prefer it to my physio’s massages) and active recovery at home.

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

The biggest surprise has been that the things that have stopped my 70.3 prep in the past can actually be overcome… with persistence, focused recovery and a training plan that is designed to suit me.

Top 3 learnings throughout your lead up?

I need to sleep more… I need to NOT eat sh%t food…  and having knowledgeable, skilled people supporting you makes a huge difference.  Also, the triathlon journey is so much more fun when you share it with friends.

The most surprising thing you learnt in your journey to busso?

That I can actually do this… I’m actually going to Busso!!!

What parts of your program have given you the most confidence?

Consistent run-off-the-bike sessions have given my confidence a huge boost.  I now don’t dread jumping off the bike and hitting the tarmac.  In fact it seems to get easier every time I do it.

What are the notable differences in your training leading into this race compared with others?

Its structured, focused on my needs and I’ve got someone in my corner who keeps me accountable (thanks Coach Jackie).

Mentally have you done anything different in the lead up to this race?

I’ve used the headspace meditation app for some time now and I’m currently completing its competition section to help prepare me.

Nutrition wise has there been any changes? What are the differences?

I’ve been on a nutrition journey for some years now due to chronic health issues and Busso prep has been something of a catalyst for me to eat even healthier than usual.  Nothing too out there, just eating real food and avoiding the things that might taste great but leave me feeling sluggish and tired.  Knowing that I need to hit another training session soon is enough motivation to avoid any food that doesn’t serve me well.  I feel this has resulted in better recovery and more energy which has flow on effects to other parts of my life.

What holistic principle have you found has made the biggest difference in your training/recovery?

Training smarter!

What is your why?

Fun and enjoyment.  I love training, I love feeling healthy and sharing the journey with my friends.

What is planned for the post race celebrations?

Watching my friends race, getting into the ocean and soaking up the atmosphere at Busso. Oh and defriending my indoor trainer!


Thank you Raul – we are pumped to watch you finish what you started 🙂


Keen for more inspiring stories from our athletes on their Road to Busso – this is the place to go – Road to Busso: Interview Series


Periods on Race Week

Erm…. I’m due WHEN? Oh uh!

Race Day Count down: 61 Days until Kona
Next Period due: 13th Aug…

Which means I’m then due on September 10th and my next one will be…
Argh! 2 days before KONA!!!! Really?! HELP!

A common logistic of racing Ironman, uncommonly discussed. So here I am – to put all those icky words out in the open. No such thing as “TMI” (too much information) in my “Hormone Nerd” world.

Why do we freak out so much when we realise we have to race with our period?
There is the obvious inconvenience and niggling worry of dreaded LEAKAGE.

Note to self: Do not purchase a white race suit.

Periods on race week

Then there is the added logistics of packing tampons for T1, T2 & on course. Packing and planning for Ironman is tough enough right?
Our other considerations and concerns revolve around performance barriers while dealing with pain, fatigue and discomfort. With no solid scientific research to empirically say that menstrual flow affects or does not affect performance we are left to look at own experience and do what works for US. That’s what matters most. You.

With periods being a bit of a taboo topic I set out to spread some Hormone Nerd love and I surveyed a few hundred endurance women, asking them about their experiences of racing with their period.
The most commonly stated concerns, experiences and stories involved;

• Extra time taken to stop at toilets and /or change tampons
• Avoiding or pulling out of race completely if period is due / complications on the day
• Gut troubles / Stomach cramps / Period pain
• Less energy and poor performance, unable to push top end pace
• Leaking, leaking and more leaking
• Being mentally distracted and/or stressed about period logistics, detracting from race preparation

[In summary, you are not alone!]

Survey Stat: Have you raced or participated in an endurance event during your menstrual cycle?

Periods on race weekPeriods during race week

Survey Stat: Have you raced or participated in an endurance event during your menstrual cycle?

41 % of responders used Birth Control Pill / Mirena / or Similar to avoid having their period race week

Strategies if due race week

1. Utilising a oral contraceptive pill, Mirena or other hormone intervention.

A common choice to avoid having a period on race day is to either start taking the oral control pill (OCP) a few months out from race day [or continue to take it] and then ‘skip’ the sugar pills, therefore skipping a menstrual bleed. As simple and effective as this solution may seem, OCP’s can cause more havoc than they are worth, however everyone will respond differently. The most important thing to do is make an informed decision for yourself and be aware of the side effects. I recommend looking into “Sweetening the Pill” for further information and research in this area.

2. Minimising Pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS)

A common mis-conception in the hormone nerd world is that our period causes us all these “issues” – however it is super important to understand that our period, or the actual bleed, is NOT the issue. PMS is not normal, and if present, is simply a note to self that reads “your hormones are out of whack and need nourishment!”. If you experience PMS the week prior and during your period, let’s work to decrease the symptoms so that your period simply “arrives” without much notice or warning. Therefore taking away symptoms of fatigue, bloating, diminished ‘top end’, gut troubles, back pain and cramping that often hinder athletic performance during or before a cycle.

Hint: this is by far my favourite strategy as it will transfer to other area’s of your life being more effortless and working towards optimal health.

I hear you ask, how do I minimise PMS?
PMS occurs when our main sex hormones, progesterone and oestrogen are fighting a battle for balance and neither of them are winning. Common athletic causes of hormone imbalance are;
– High volume training, not balanced with recovery protocols and natural nutrition
– Persistent high intensity training, not balanced with low intensity training, recovery or natural nutrition
– High cortisol or stress levels, derived from both physical and mental sources of stress.
– Lack of seasonal break after a major race of at least 2 -4 weeks.
– Poor nutrition choices and/ or gut health – often due to high sugar or carbohydrate loads

Remembering that hormone balance is a complex and vast topic, I’ll set you up with some simple PMS busting strategies below. For more in-depth strategies, check out E-book & E-Program, Healing the Grumpy Athlete online.

Now we’ve covered the steps towards hormone balance and less PMS, lets look at the logistical side of periods on race day.

3. Preparation, suit selection & minimising stress

Simply being aware that you may be due race week will aid in decreasing the stress of an unexpected arrival! Our bodies don’t often work like a time machine, one month your cycle may be 26 days and then next 32, so it can feel like a game of roulette.
Want to know the good news?
Just by understanding and listening to your body when symptoms arise, you can note when you ovulate mid cycle, and then predict when your period will arrive. Let me explain. What we didn’t learn in high school sex-ed, and a common myth, is that a period doesn’t just simply arrive ‘late’ due to stress the week prior to our period being due. If we have a significant increase in stress, training or other life changes between menstrual flow and day 13/14 of our cycle it is during this time that ovulation will be delayed, causing a late period because our period will always arrive 14/15 days post ovulation.
Knowing when you ovulate is the key to predicting your cycle and mitigating any PMS too! To track your ovulation, you can start by tracking your basal temperature or taking note of discharge patterns. A guide, and PDF template is provided for you in Healing The Grumpy Athlete.

PMS Busting Strategies

A. Check your magnesium intake.

Lack of magnesium if often the cause of one row of chocolate turning into an entire block of chocolate! Low magnesium also contributes to increased fatigue, poor recovery, poor moods and disturbed sleep. I recommend all athletes supplement with Magnesium due it’s wide range of benefits. Please ensure you select a high quality, practitioner range of supplement and ask your practitioners advice on dosage and type suitable for your symptoms. Further to supplementing with Magnesium, double dosing (increase regular dose) five days prior to your period being due is great PMS busting strategy.

B. Devise a balanced training regime

Sounds simple right? Train with balance? If it was, every athlete would do this with ease. But in my experience it is one of the most challenging things for A-type, high achieving athlete to adhere to.

Strategies to train with balance:
– Program a recovery week, when your hormones most need it, between Day 25 and Day 2 of your cycle.
– Include recovery sessions every week that involve low heart rate training, staying under approximately 180 bpm – your age, known as the MAF method.
– Program Yoga into your weekly routine as a MUST
– Select your key sessions that involve intensity or volume, these should make up 3-4 sessions each week with the remainder as base or recovery sessions.
– Balance your endurance training with strength training, enabling less volume for greater strength gains and hormone balance

C. Make cortisol your best friend

When it comes to athletic contributors of hormone imbalance the number ONE culprit is our stress hormone Cortisol. If stress, both physical and mental, is unremitting it won’t be long until you experience symptoms of high cortisol, leading to poor weight management, poor sleep, poor recovery, stagnated performance, anxiety and hormone imbalance. On the flip side, low cortisol can be just as harmful, or even more-so. Low cortisol occurs when the body has dealt with high cortisol for an extended period of time and can no longer keep up with demands, finally crashing and burning out . Leaving athletes in a depleted state, unable to perform, constantly napping, always hungry and unable to maintain weight despite their best efforts.
So are you now ready to hear about how to twist cortisol’s arm to be your best friend?

Managing cortisol, for athletes;
1. Take a Vitamin C supplemenRecovery Legs up the wallt post training, especially after intense or high volume sessions.
2. Get to know and love the yoga pose: “Legs up the Wall”
– This restorative pose helps your body process the Cortisol raging through your body – perfect just prior to bed or immediately after a training session.
3. Learn and understand the difference between slowing down a calming down with meditation.
– I’m athlete too, so I get it. Slowing down is not in our DNA. However you can still calm down your central nervous system while going about your busy, fun-filled, productive life. Meditation will assist in lowering Cortisol levels, but also enable you to be a far greater athlete with the ability to focus and work through pain.

The Checklist.

Okay, so perhaps you now know that you are definitely due race week, lets go through a checklist to avoid ‘mishaps’;
– Pack tampons for T1, T2 and your special needs bags
– Ask your race director if tampons are provided on-course
– Choose a ‘friendly’ race suit, stay away from whites!
– Wear a two piece Tri-suit to allow for multiple changes and toilet stops with ease
– and finally, if you do happen to experience leakage or mishaps, keep your head up and your heart strong. It’s a natural part of being a women that we don’t need to be ashamed of. You will display strength and fortitude by just doing your thing to get to the finish line, stay focused on YOUR goal.

*As seen in Aus Tri Magazine.

Coach Katee

Coach KateeFounder of Holistic Endurance and author of Healing the Grumpy Athlete, Coach Katee is widely known as ‘The Hormone Nerd’. Passionately driven to help all athletes achieve their optimal potential whilst maintaining a balanced, nourished life and longevity in their chosen endurance pursuit.