Cunningham & Williamson Talk Panama 70.3 and Fitness Early in the Season

Both Kelly Williamson and Richie Cunningham have started the year off with a bang placing 2nd and 3rd (respectively) at their first races of the 2012 season with Ironman 70.3 Panama.  We wanted to  ask Kelly about her stand out performance on the run (actually beating Lance Armstrong’s run time with a 1:16:18)  and find out how Richie has come back so strong after his hip fracture late last season, placing 3rd in such a competitive field.

Kelly gives some great advice about taking some real rest and recovery time after each season, to be fresh both mentally and physically when it’s go time.

Recovery Pump  “Kelly, you’ve done nothing but improve over the past year and then you whip out a 2nd place and your fastest run in a 70.3  (1:16:18), beating Lance Armstrong’s run time at Panama this past weekend and your bike time is improving right alongside.”

“You seem to be “ripe” for racing very early in the season and we want to know the secret to staying healthy and being so fit this early in the year. Do you have any advice for those athletes looking to perform at their peak in an early season race?”

Kelly Williamson A ”Thanks for the nice words about my fitness. You don’t have to say that about my bike. It’s always a work in progress, and this past weekend, it was not too stellar! That said, it was a tough windy course and I made the best of it… just kept my head down and plugged along!

“It seems I often get this question early in the year. You know, I try not to over think it all. I think that when people say “I’m not fit right now” or “I don’t want to be fit yet” it’s kind of odd. I figure this is my job and almost every month of the year maybe barring December when I do not usually race any major triathlons, I should be fairly fit. I definitely do not make a plan to be at a peak fitness in February, but it seems that I often have good form right now. All I know is that once the final race finishes often in November, I take a good week of little to very light activity and the entire month of December, I allow myself to go totally schedule-free. I do what sounds appealing each day. Seeing that I love to be active that means that I take very few days totally off. I also race 5k’s in December because they are fun and I love to do them. Maybe that kicks up my fitness while still allowing my body to recover as it needs to do from the long season. This past year, I was not outside on my bike at all from Ironman Arizona (Nov 20) until January 4th, so all rides were indoors and no more than 45-90 minutes. That said once January starts, I often kick back into a schedule and resume some intensity but still keep the volume in check.”

I think that maybe part of what gives me the early season fitness is really recovering from the previous season (given those 4-6 weeks of ‘relaxed’ training) yet at the same time, I don’t ‘de-train’ because I stay active. I think the downtime lets my body adapt to the stresses which I placed upon it the past 9-10 months. Mentally it works really well for me. If I did nothing for 1-2 weeks, you’d not want to be around me! I would get grumpy and moody. I can’t sit still. I just try to listen to my body and do what it needs during the ‘off-season’. I do think that the mental and emotional break from routine is essential to remain healthy and motivated throughout the race season.”

Watch Kelly Williamson’s finish below!

 

On to Richie “Mr. Consistent” Cunningham. He tells us how his Doctor’s advice after a painful hip fracture last year and many hours in the RecoveryBoots, had him back on the podium faster than we’ve ever seen before.

Recovery Pump “Richie, not many athletes come back from an injury like you suffered in Germany last year (fractured hip) and attain the level of fitness and performance they had pre-injury. Often that’s a result of mental awareness and fear of getting re-injured but it’s also not always physically attainable. “

“What advice would you give to an athlete recovering from serious injury and what do you think helped you the most in your successful recovery and ability to perform like you did so early in the season at Panama 70.3 this past weekend?”

Richie Cunningham A  “I think there were a lot of factors that went into my relatively quick recovery and success in racing.  To start, I’ve always been really good at listening to my body and knowing how far I can push it. I got some good advice from the doctor I saw in Germany, which is probably a little different than what the average doctor would give a patient. For example, he was all about continued training, but without using my legs. For example, the arm bike machine you see at the gym. He told me that if I could do workouts on that, it will keep me fit on the inside, which would help maintain my weight and keep my fitness level up for when I could start training properly. Once I started riding after 2 weeks on the spin bike, he basically told me that as long as it was zero resistance and impact, I would be fine. Basically, my limitation and guide was my pain level. If it hurt, I had to stop or back off and that’s what I did in each aspect of the recovery and training. I tried water jogging after 3 weeks. It was still a little painful and uncomfortable to do that, so I took another week off before I tried again.”

“I think I was extremely lucky in that I was extremely fit before the accident, so I had a lot of fitness to lose before I got completely out of shape. I also did every little thing that I had heard about for faster recovery. I think Recovery Pump was one of the biggest factors of me recovering quickly. It certainly stimulated the blood flow around my hip, which is something I couldn’t do naturally, because I couldn’t exercise it. I spent 1-2 hours per day in the boots. I also took advice from my then sponsor, First Endurance and asked what the best bone recovery supplements I could take were. He advised me to take straight powdered glutamine. I also took calcium and shark fin powder.”

“Another big factor is that I’m a stubborn bastard. After the initial anger and disappointment from the injury, I saw it as a challenge to get back racing as soon as I could. I changed my end of season goals and made Phuket a major race. One I was running pain free, I really hit the training hard.”

Watch Richie Cunningham’s finish below:

We are thrilled to see Kelly and Richie racing so well and cannot wait to see how their 2012 season progresses. Both athletes have been using the RecoveryBoots for over a year now and  it’s exciting to see such talent and optimum recovery collide.