Fit By Forty

When last did you set yourself a target, aim for a goal or resolve to do something that really challenges you? Being in a comfort zone sometimes creeps up on us and we discover we're going in a direction we hadn't necessarily planned. An amazing antidote is a dose of self-evaluation and scrutiny, and a challenge to match. That's exactly what Iron Man participant and Wellness Warehouse co-founder, Sean Gomes decided when he signed up for the Iron Man 70.3 challenge.

First find a motivating reason or a 'why' advises Sean. Having had the slogan 'fit by forty' in the back of his mind, and with the big 4-O coming up fast, it was time to put in some training. Entering the Iron Man challenge was a perfect goal and one that matched his intended outcome.

Besides the 'why' it helps to have a wake-up call. Sean's wake up call came when he realized he'd packed on a few kilos too many. 'My favourite jeans had gotten too tight and after the festive season I got a bit of a fright when I stepped on the scale.' If you're not paying attention, it's easy for the kilos to pile up. 'I was having to buy a whole size up from my normal size.'

The last couple of years Sean had two sons Zac and Kai and found that with increased fatherhood responsibilities, he'd put training on the back burner. He'd also had a series of injuries starting from his rugby days at school and then University. After operations on both his knees, his foot, his wrist and both shoulders, his training regime was severely restricted. 'I've simply got damaged knees and joints and can't manage to run for longer than ten minutes. Endurance sports are just not for me,' was his evaluation.

Love of exercise and sport was never the problem, from rugby to kitesurfing, boxing and gym, Sean had a history of being active. After weighing 82 kilos at school and not going above 85 kilos in his varsity days, he stood on a scale at his mother-in-law's house after a long Sunday lunch and his weight had crept up to 93. Now, there was no space for excuses, and injuries or not, he decided to do whatever it took to train. That day he entered the Knysna Half Marathon, got an online training programme and began to work towards completing his first half marathon in almost 20 years. 'It's all mind over matter and mental perseverance,' says Sean. 'Oh, and using professionals is extremely helpful too.'

To compensate for my injuries I was seeing 3 professionals on a fortnightly basis to help keep my body in check. My personal trainer emphasized building core strength and I was having Lynotherapy as well as fortnightly massages. After 8 months of training, I lost 12 kilos, I feel great about my fitness and more than that - I've enjoyed it so much, I'm determined to make endurance training a key part of my life. Sean completed the East London Iron Man 70.3 successfully in January, a week before turning 40, and has signed up for his next challenge, Durban Ironman 70.3 in June.

SEAN'S 4 FAVOURITE TRAINING TIPS

1. Join a 'coached' group

Something I really enjoyed was the group camaraderie with others who were also training. Psychologically it's really good too. We were all on a whatsapp group and with everyone speaking about the next training appointment or cycle or swimming engagement, if you're not in, you feel like you are missing out. It's very encouraging and motivating and provides a bit of healthy competition to spur you on. Sean joined coach Steve Atwell's East London 70.3 programme with Embark (www.embark.co.za).

2. Involve your family

Being active is not necessarily something I have to do on my own. With a young growing family it's good to find ways to exercise that include the family. I loved running the Knysna half marathon with my wife Melissa. We ran the whole way together. It was a great bonding exercise for us.

3. Learn more about your body

Even though I have a medical qualification and I've been in the Wellness industry my whole career, when actually training I got a much deeper understanding of my body and its requirements and abilities. I find I've spent a lot of time reading about nutrition and endurance and it's taught me a lot that I am able to use in my daily life.

4. Use professional advice

The right advice has allowed me to train optimally and given me focused effort in the right areas. An old injury on my knee has left my patella with poor tracking making it prone to patella tendinitis, but with care I can work around it and still achieve the fitness goals I want. Using Lyno coaching, performance coaching and physiotherapy has also been key to looking after my body.

5. Enter an event and tell everyone

This is probably the most powerful motivator. Start with something manageable, give yourself time, enter it and then tell your friends and family'.even challenge a few of them to enter it too. With a clear short term and achievable goal, you'll build confidence to take on even bigger challenges.

FAVOURITE SUPPLEMENTS & TRAINING HACKS

  1. L-Glutamine ' for muscle recovery and to prevent soreness
  2. Foam rolling ' to help muscle recovery, flexibility, and prevent injury
  3. Magnesium, Zinc, high dose vitamin C and a good multi ' for mineral replacement and immune boosting. Did you know, that during bouts of intense exercise your immunity takes a dip and you are more prone to catching a flu or cold.
  4. Post exercise recovery drink ' Hammer Recoverite optimal mix of protein, amino acids and carbohydrate to aid muscle recovery and replace depleted muscle glycogen stores. There is a window of opportunity lasting about an hour after intense exercise where your body is best at converting carbohydrates to muscle glycogen. After that, the body tends to store excess carbs as fat.
  5. The right equipment tailored for your individual need ' get the right running shoe. Visit RUN on Bree Street for a personal assessment ' they'll give you professional information like whether your feet are neutral or pronated. Make sure your bike is correctly set up for your geometry. A seat height too high or too low can cause injury ' visit The Giant Concept Store by Olympic Cycles at the bottom of Bree for a professional bike fitment.

“Wellness Warehouse strives to help you live life well but because we are retailers and not medical practitioners we cannot offer medical advice. Please always consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements, complementary medicines or have any health concerns and ensure that you always read labels, warnings and directions carefully, prior to consumption.”