An inherent love for sports – part 3

Continued from here and here

Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist  this sounds the most practical of all the options I have explored. Given the number of running injuries we all get and the importance of recovery for our continuous pounding of the pavement, roads, trails and hills, a sports massage is one thing A and I wish we could afford more often. And one that every good runner does invest in at least once a month. This combines human science, running and rehab and looks like something I can practically do part-time. I can do this course over Saturday sessions over 5 months at St.Mary’s (a tad expensive at £1600). The fact that this can lead to practical experience to advance into physio / sports therapy makes it all the more attractive.

Sports therapist / Sports Rehab specialist – this is the closest stream leading to being a professional sports doctor unless I actually pursue an MBBS degree – it would take ages and a lot of luck before I could get to working for a big level professional club, and is not the reason I want to do this. But the line of work – sports injury prevention, treatment and rehab is exactly what would make me happy. I could at some point follow this up with a post-grad course in Sports & Exercise medicine.

It bugs me immensely when anyone vaguely suggests that exercise and outdoors is so injury prone that they would rather suffer middle and old age ailments. Someone said at lunch that people spend as much on treating running injuries as much as they spend on smoking! Even if this was remotely true, I would rather run, injure myself (oh, know how to prevent, treat and recover) than spend on that dreaded cancer causing nicotine tubes – I want to help as many people as possible believe in this.

Physiotherapist – Even though the sports therapist is the ideal path I would like to advance into, this page explains very well what I have read about sports-therapist vs. physiotherapist.

In short, Physiotherapy is a much better recognised degree compared to Sports-therapy. Almost all the Sports Physios I look up have done a Physiotherapy degree. And there are career opportunities with NHS as Physios which don’t seem so wide spread for Sports-therapists.

But the biggest difference I can see is that a Physio degree can be funded by the NHS once I have my Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (which I am eligible for from Feb 2016) – saving me £27,000 in tuition fee for the 3 year program! Given I really would like to be a Sports-therapist more than a Physio, I am hoping someone proves me wrong and shows me that the Sports-therapy / Rehab degrees also have this funding. For an added challenge, the funding obviously makes it very competitive to get into the Physiotherapy course – with only 35 accredited providers for all of UK.

Continue reading

An inherent love for sports – part 2

Continued from here

A dump of my confused thoughts on the various options:

Personal Trainer – this seems to be one of the most acquired qualifications in the fitness industry offered by a bunch of training providers (Premier Training, YMCA, Discovery, FutureFit, The Training Room etc.). It is expensive (averages around £3000) and is available to learn mostly online with a handful of practical days OR part time weekend course supplemented with online learning OR as a full time 12 week course. I like what personal trainers do, and someone like me would be motivated to work with one and would see good results. But the course content and assessment puts me off. It looks very theoretical, and for the price, all one seems to be acquiring is a fast paced certification. I have seen some good personal trainers and I wonder if the S&C coach is a better way to get there. But then, the PT certification also seems to be a stepping stone for all the options I have looked into (a very expensive one at that – just putting down these thoughts makes me wonder maybe if it is just a certification, does it really matter which training provider I go with… should I just take one of those online options which are cheaper.. I really don’t want to spend money on this for nothing) – especially for someone like me, with no relevant academic or practical qualification or background in the sports / fitness field and given I did my A level equivalents 15+ years ago in another country, this seems like a way to get some experience / qualification to tick that pre-requisite for most competitive in-depth courses and degrees.

S&C coach – my introduction to strength training was from Stephanie Twell, who was doing her M.Sc in Strength & Conditioning from St.Mary’s university. Obviously her running pedigree gives her significant knowledge and experience and she had a pretty bad injury that affected her career for a couple of years – just listening to her made me realise how much she knew about her body. The S&C coach is what I am looking for with a personal trainer course – the issue is they wouldn’t admit me for this course without a background / experience in this field 🙁 Also given this is a going to take at least 2-3 years of study at the minimum, I would need to be sure this is all I want to do – realistically, I want S&C to supplement my interests in coaching, sports-therapy and rehab and not be the only thing I do.

Running coach – this excites me. And scares me. Every running coach or coach in training I know has run at least a few marathons… and I am at 18.75 miles as my longest run. Given how happy I am when I see one of my friends complete a workout, I want to get involved in beginner’s run coaching – to motivate women to get out and do their first 5k & 10k and hopefully like me, they would fall in love with running and get new found confidence and keep going 🙂 Reading Dan’s account of the Leadership in Running Fitness course by UK Athletics, it looks like I would enjoy this (I also know Laura, Sarah and Justin who have done this and they all coach runners; Laura and Dan have also completed their Coach in Running Fitness qualification while Sarah and Justin are on their way :)) – given this is a 1-day course at £160, it isn’t too bad an investment to try this out.

(continued here)

An inherent love for sports – part 1

I became an investment banker by chance. I did not actively look out or prepare for these roles. I vividly remember a chat with one of my batch-mates – I wanted to apply for a research analyst role and he was trying to convince me that the IB role would have a lot more perks and money! True to his word, the only IB role I was interviewed for landed me a lucrative job that paid for a lot of travels and luxuries. Along the way, IB was also the reason I was able to move to the UK with more than a generous relocation support from the IB employer. I enjoyed the work in the first year post-MBA and then it has been downhill – with increased money though. I quit this 4 years ago and moved to the corporate world. The pay was lesser, but the increased and flexible time on the hands made up for it. The work was again good for a couple of years, but for more reasons than one, I have lost interest in my most recent role. There isn’t a wide scope of what else I can do and there doesn’t seem to be any interesting offers available for what I can do.

The science of the human body interests me. I have always liked sports. When I was in high school, I wanted to become the team doctor for the Indian cricket team! In the last 2 years, running has changed my life – and my attitude to many things in life. I got injured on the way and was intrigued by the Physio (& internet) provided information on prevention and recovery techniques. I had never done weight training before Dec 2014 and it fascinated me what just a few weeks of strength training could do to my running. When I got bored of the gym later in the year, I read up on the various ways to build strength outside of the gym – resistance, suspension, kettle bell, circuits and more. I get inspired by other runners on Twitter and Strava. And I feel immense happiness when someone I encourage goes out for a run (my dad, Ranj, Aruna, Preeti, Roshi and even Ankita far away in Bombay!).

Given my dead-ended feeling with my current career, I want to explore doing something with sports. Given my interests, the paths I have researched include:

  • Personal Trainer
  • Strength & Conditioning coach
  • Running coach
  • Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Sports therapist

The one basic topic that needs study across all of these is Anatomy and Physiology of the human body. I paid Coursera for the first time and am currently learning Introductory Human Physiology by Duke University. It hasn’t been easy (a lot of concepts to learn and I am so out of touch) but I am currently in my 6th week of the 10 week course. I am happy I am trying this before going full-fledged and spending on something bigger – the course has set the reality straight on my concentration / focus levels and my out-of-touch state with anything to do with reading and learning. The flexible deadlines have helped (I have reset deadlines twice already!) and I hope to finish the course before the end of the year. The instructors and the content of the course have been very good and I would highly recommend the course for anyone interested in the topic. It gives a sound background in a very wide subject. I intend to read the book – Anatomy for Runners – to get a background into the other human science (Christmas reading?).

(continued here and then here)

Activity and Fitness Trackers

End of last year, I had been looking to buy an activity tracker to track my steps, sleep etc. and also possibly measure non-outdoor running / cycling exercises like spinning, gym work etc. The usual DCRainMaker has all the information needed on these devices and also helps with product comparison tables, but did not have a recommendation on what I should buy – no, that is not right, if you go down this page to Activity Trackers, you will find his recommendation.

This is just a summary of my research into these devices – hopefully useful for someone like me looking to buy one soon.

I am Garmin biased as I own 3 of their devices (Edge 500, Forerunner 220 and Vivofit) – so I would always recommend their products (really, is there anyone else who makes their variety of sports trackers?), but that also gives me the insight into what all is wrong with them (loads!) and why they are better than what the market has (for me).

Do you want a pedometer only or something that tracks calories for all activities?
1 Pedometer only
Really – just buy one of those £20 ones off Amazon
CXS Walking 3D Pedometer
Omron Walking Style III Pedometer
2 Glorified pedometer with some jazz like reminders etc and also website / apps where I can track food, weight etc. and compare with my friends
Do you want a wrist based pedometer?
1 Fitbit Flex (£60) No display, only shows progress to GOAL with lights
No reminders to walk every hour
Recharge every 5-7 days
2 Garmin Vivofit (£69) Displays steps, goal, calories, time, date etc.; Not back-lit;
Red bar indicates inactivity for an hour (telling you to move);
Has ability to track other non-step activities and part of Garmin ‘Connect’ family.
Coin battery (lasts 1 year) – so can wear 24/7
No, a Clip on pedometer
1 Fitbit One (£70) Rechargeable every 7 days (for 3 hours), has alarms, measures stairs climbed and measures sleep
2 Fitbit Zip (£45) Coin battery (lasts 6 months) – so can wear 24/7, no alarms, no stairs, does not measure sleep but great value and good budget option
3 Hey, I want a pedometer but do other stuff too (but don’t have money for all those cool wearables)
I run and also want to track activities and steps
1 Garmin Forerunner 15 (£110) No bluetooth auto upload to phone – have to connect to laptop! Recharge every 4-5 weeks
Do you want to measure calories in the gym, exercise classes, spin sessions etc.
Do you want to measure calories for your run / cycle but not really interested in detailed metrics / analysis
Do you mind wearing an heart rate monitor while exercising? Choose between the two based on which family you are in:
2 Garmin Vivofit (£69) ANT+ heart rate strap; Coin battery (lasts 1 year), so can wear 24/7
3 Polar Loop (£65-75) Bluetooth heart rate strap; recharge every 5-7 days
No, I want a device with optical HR (even though the recordings wont be always accurate)
4 Basis peak (£170) Expensive! Has touchscreen and Smartphone notifications will be enabled in future
4 Who wants a pedometer, I do the ‘real stuff’ (and have some money-money-money)
1 Only Run — Garmin Forerunner 220 (£188) if you are in the Garmin family; else Polar M400 (£156)
2 Only Cycle — Garmin Edge 500 (or 800 / 810 depending on your needs)
3 Only Swim — Garmin Swim
4 Run and cycle — Garmin Forerunner 620 (£278)
5 Run, cycle and Swim — Garmin 920XT, Garmin Fenix, Garmin Epix

So as I promised, a few bad things about Garmin:

  • Their mobile website sucks! Real time sucks – one of the worst. So use their desktop website or their Garmin Connect app.
  • The app works fine for me, but can go a long way in improvements – I heard the competition does a better job, but I haven’t used anything else, so can’t say
  • Server up time – don’t be surprised if you can’t sync / upload once a month on a weekend! And it has been worse the last week or so with sync failures every day! (we can’t understand why a company of this size can’t keep their servers running all the time but A says Polar’s uptime is even worse!)
  • Their heart rate monitors don’t work underwater (no optical HR), so you can’t measure calories earned while swimming (you can measure calories with other metrics like time, laps, distance etc.)