There’s a certain tenacity in achieving a goal when you have worked your way towards a target for months at a time. What seems like a massively in-conquerable hurdle at the outset, becomes a test of determination and mental toughness alongside a physical target which, when combined with good planning, consistency and achievable steps, becomes a realistic achievement.
A client recently completed a goal that she has had on her calendar for 6 months. A 55km walking trek around the coastline of Sydney with a team of 4 women. Not being an Olympic athlete or Weekend Warrior, she was understandably worried about her weak ankles and her recurring calf pain and tenderness when she first signed up for the trek. However, with determination and a focus on what was ahead, together we came up with a plan that would help her get past her foot/calf pain and into a positiion that was going to see her complete the walk with a healthy demeanour and not be crippled by the experience.
It was with great joy that she ‘strode’ into the clinic last Monday, full of life, vigour, beans and positively beaming with delight after having completed the Sydney Coastrek last Friday. A challenging course that went from Coogee all the way to Mosman with some pretty hefty hills and sand walking, it was no mean feat to achieve it and to find herself, not only prancing across the finish line, but also being able to bring others along with her who, without her team leadership skills, would not have completed the trek.
Any physical achievement has to have a plan of attack. You cannot expect to just stride out into the sunshine and be able to complete tasks of a physical capacity without really planning for the event. A journey always starts with one single step, but it’s the steps in between that really make up the bulk of what is achievement. ‘JUST KEEP SWIMMING’ is such a wonderful mantra for this type of conditioning. Keeping up the consistency of training creates volume and without volume, you cannot hope to get past the hurdles or tasks that are asked of us, or that we ask of ourselves.
Adrenalin and sheer grit can only get you so far and don’t be fooled – these factors definetly weigh in on achieving events of an endurance nature. When you are surrounded by others in an event and you feel the camaraderie that the pain and effort you are experiencing is but one in a sea of hundreds of fellow competitors, it makes a big difference to feel that acknowledgement and to keep on pushing to the finish line. But that’s the last 7-10km. The last 2 laps of a 1500m. The last turn before the straight. To get to that point, that’s where training comes into it and that volume of time spent on the bike, in the pool, on the track has no replacement when it comes to the bulk of completing events.
Following the program is important. It’s very much a team effort when someone takes the time to give you information and to plan your attack. Doing part of that attack isn’t enough. You have to follow through. If you aren’t getting results with the plan, ask yourself truthfully “have I done everything precisely as it was given”? “Have I been diligent with ALL aspects of the program without leaving anything that out”. Did I follow the instructions. If the IKEA wardrobe falls on your head because you didn’t secure the screws in the rear panel, is it the design’s fault or yours?
It’s always wonderful to hear client’s stories of achievement. Receiving praise is the elixir of joy for my job. But I am not the miracle worker here. I don’t do the work. It’s up to the individual to put in the hours and time to get results. I just push things around and create the capacity for function. To achieve the tasks, it has to come down to the individual commitment. Even if it’s just fixing a sore shoulder, if the individual doesn’t put in what is needed – the results do not come!
The real reason Emma was able to complete this trek was not due to any miraculous treatment I administered, but because Emma took the time to invest in what she was trying to achieve. There was an issue, which was her weak stability in ankle flexion and her consequent tendinopathy in Achilles and plantar flexors. Through time, with some initial release and then consequent checking in periodically, Emma focussed on doing the exercises that she needed to do as well as being diligent in her conditioning program. This brought about the necessary muscular stability she needed to ensure she could do a 55km trek with comfort and without winding up in agony the day after from shin splints or foot tension which had plagued her so much before she considered the trek.
The real reason she was successful was because she STUCK TO HER GAME PLAN. This plan came about through considered planning and meticulous adherence to the timeframe. Understanding that there was only 5 months to go before the event, there was the initial plan to fix the instability, then it was about activating the correct postural muscles, gaining the right range of motion and then finally conditioning her body to ensure she could perform the task or goal. There were no 5hr training sessions or 6 days a week early morning classes. Just a determination to continually stick to the game plan and follow this through with careful consistent adherence. The end result was the achievement of a goal that seemed insurmountable 5 months earlier when she was suffering calf cramps, plantar fasciitis and weak ankles.
It’s very rarely the therapist that is responsible for the miraculous results. It’s a team effort. The work that happens on the table has to be backed up with the activation and conditioning that comes through following the exercise regime and being diligent on the ‘homework’. TOGETHER is the real result of these programs, using the TEAM to focus on continually moving forward with small measurable results that get that one step closer to the ultimate goal.
Well done Emma, you really achieved this one. I just came along for the ride.