Exclusive interview with Ironman age group World Champion about her journey to success.
It might surprise you to hear that it wasn’t love at first tri for Ruth Purbrook. The athlete who has gone on to establish herself as one of the rising starts of British triathlon hated her first open water swim, she grins ‘I emerged from the Serpentine in Hyde Park covered in green gunk and thought why do people do this?’.
She’d spent the first half of the year training for the Berlin Marathon with her husband Barney and after months of running it was the mix of sports, people and atmosphere that drew her into the sport. She joined a triathlon club in London in the winter of that year and she’s since experienced something of a meteoric rise through the sport.
Despite her success, she is honest about the challenges of pursuing her sporting dream while holding down her role in Lloyds banking group supporting the Chief Information Officer at the same time, ‘it involves never snoozing the alarm, I get up very early around 5am and fit in a session before work and most days a session work after and there is a lot of training at the weekends. It’s really about discipline and knowing your purpose.’
She talks about the virtues of knowing your why as a tool for driving through the long months of training, I ask her about what that means to her “sometimes I can think back to the winning moment at the end of a race and that drives me forward but when I need something closer to home I focus on the effect of training on my mental health, I use training as a stress relief and I believe I’m better at my day job because of it”.
She has been progressing in the sport for a few years now and has an abundance of advice for athletes who are just starting out. She is a big advocate for finding a club or group of people you can train with, “you will find people [at a club] that are better than you, it pushes you to be better”.
For her own inspiration, she looks to several successful players in within the sport, the 11 x Professional Ironman Champion and Cancer Doctor Lucy Gossage, “She makes a thing about keeping it fun, she does the races she really wants to do. Her philosophy is if I get there, I get there and she has won her last 15 ironman races. Watching someone with that attitude be that successful has taught me to enjoy the experience”.
As her training intensifies, recovery is also rising up her list of priorities. “it’s a focus for me to get better at it this year, I haven’t nailed it yet. Sleep is probably the biggest and best recovery tool, beyond that I’m trying to be more disciplined about building recovery into my routine. I’ve had a few niggles so I’m trying to be better at getting massages and foam rolling and stretching. I’m also investing in a MyoBlaster to experience the benefits of percussive therapy and be able to do that at home”
She’s experienced a few injuries to date, having rolled her ankle three times and experienced major calf tears. She’s worked hard to strengthen her weak points but being out with injury has changed her perspective “it taught me that you can take a break and come back and still be successful. I’ve actually come back from injury feeling much more refreshed and because it’s a multi-discipline sport it’s given me the space to improve other areas.”
She’s achieved a phenomenal amount in her relatively short career in the sport and she visibly lights up when she talks about her age group win at the World Championships in Kona last year. When I ask her about future goals, she chuckles and responds “the dream changes quite a lot” but she would like to go pro and give the sport her undivided attention at some point.
As we wrap-up our chat, I can’t help but feel excited for Ruth’s future. Underneath her humble exterior is a fierce determination and focus, somehow it feels like there’s an inevitability to her future success.
Ruth, we’re rooting for you.
We talk to Saracens and former England Rugby Sports Scientist and Strength & Conditioner about Eddie Jones’ winning formula, the power of data and his love of compression.
Affectionately known as ‘Chopper’ by players and coaches at Saracens, he started his career as an intern with New Zealand teams Auckland ITM and Auckland Blues a time he describes as ‘incredible’.
On his return he quickly started working with Bath Rugby and Cornish Pirates before securing his dream job with Saracens as both a S&C and Sports Scientist. After four years earning his stripes at one of the most successful rugby clubs in Europe it’s no surprise he was picked up by England Rugby and began working closely with Stuart Lancaster as he began his role as England Head Coach.
Chopper describes his time with England ‘a fantastic learning experience’ as he supported the team through a World Cup that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, he then continued his role under the new leadership of Eddie Jones and went on to enjoy a successful Six Nations and Summer tour in 2016.
He’s been back with Saracens for a couple of years now and reflecting on his career he notes the incredible evolution of data and the role of recovery in the sport, ‘When I first started out at Sarries and was working with (then Director of Rugby) Brendon Ventor, we brought in heart rate monitors because we wanted to know that everyone was working hard enough. ‘Back in the day clubs had some interesting data, now we’ve learnt how to make that data become useful. It allows us to measure the intensity and crucially, the impact training is having on players and even their overall sense of wellbeing.’ he says ‘Often sports science can get pigeon holed as the GPS guy but it’s so much more than that, it’s about using the data coupled with your knowledge to benefit and significantly improve performance.’
Both England Rugby and Saracens have an incredibly clear vision and everything they do ladders up to it
It’s clear he’s passionate about the role the sports science and recovery can play in improving the performance of teams and individuals, ‘Where recovery has become really clever is matching the programme to a specific ailment often preventing a particular issue from becoming a full-on injury. We develop really bespoke programmes for every single athlete based on their strengths and weakness and the in-depth data we can now gather on them. That elevates the impact of what we are doing to a whole new level.’
He’s got very clear advice to people who are looking to implement more recovery into their training sessions ‘Be committed to getting eight hours sleep a night and focus on your nutrition. Beyond that I’m a really big fan of compression garments worn after a big session or match, you can sleep in them comfortably and they really help to reduce pain and stiffness the next day.’
He’s spent the bulk of his career working with two of most successful team in the sport, England and Saracens, and when asked about what sets them apart, he doesn’t hesitate ‘They both have an incredibly clear vision and everything they do ladders up to it. Everyone from the kit man to the Head Coach believes in that one goal and is on the same page, that level of clarity and commitment sets them apart without a doubt.’
As for his own vision ‘I’m incredibly lucky to have been a part in the successes of both Saracens and England Rugby over the past few years, it’s been a dream come true’ and long may it continue.
There is no doubt about it, the tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler is a man of spirit. Once he sets his eye on something, there is little anyone can do to stop him. From humble beginnings, he’s gone on to represent the British & Irish Lions, England and made over 100 premiership appearance for Harlequins.
He is no stranger to injuries, suffering a hamstring tear on the eve of the Six Nations earlier this year and he’s passionate about the role recovery plays in helping athletes achieve their dreams. He was the first ever person to purchase the MyoBlaster after spotting fellow team mate and MyoMaster co-founder Joe Gray using it in the Harlequins changing room before the business had even begun. He’s been a part of the team ever since, designing, testing and using MyoMaster products as a key part of his daily recovery.
We chat to Saracens player and MyoMaster co-founder about his passion for recovery, devastating injuries and the power of positivity.
How does recovery play a role in your weekly schedule?
I’m pretty lucky that this is my 13th season as a professional rugby player, over that time recovery has developed from a quick five minute cool down on the edge of the pitch to now having full time sports scientists in the club looking at your loading, GPS data and creating defined recovery schedules. It’s developed over 13 years more than you can imagine, it’s given me a lot of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t and just how important recovery is. As I get older and the years of playing take their toll it really is a vital part of my everyday. Seeing how it’s changed the game has been amazing. I only wish I’d been doing everything I do now at the start of my career.
What does a typical day’s recovery look like for you?
I do a glute fire up before every single training session. I have a deep tissue massage nearly every day and I use our product the MyoPulse which is an EMS, TENS and massage system all in one. I use the EMS setting regularly to fire up my quads and protect my knees. I use the TENS on my lower back and the massage after large training days. I’m also a big fan of recovery leggings and wear them before and after every game to help reduce swelling and lactic acid. I also use calf sleeves in pre-season when I’m doing excessive running.
Why did you start a recovery business?
I’ve had issues with injury throughout my career so recovery has always been a big part of my routine. Last season I was suffering with achilles tendonitis and after training my calves were so sore I was struggling to walk. After training one day I started playing with some tools and dismantled them all and created a massager. I ended up taking it into training the next day to use on my calves and it made a huge difference.
All the lads in the Quins changing room thought it was hilarious and were taking the mick out of me because I’d taken my tool in, I left it in the changing room and when I returned they were all using it and raving about how good it was. England player Kyle Sinckler got cash out of his wallet there and then and said “I need this, it’s amazing and I want it. I’m taking it home” I gave it to him on the spot and the orders haven’t stopped coming since.
I started talking to my wife about how I could start selling the products beyond the changing room and she started researching what other recovery products were on the market. She quickly realised two things, there was no one business that could serve all of your recovery needs in on place and all the latest products on the market were really expensive. We launched MyoMaster three months later.
You’re a professional rugby player so you’ve got the time, tools and advice to make recovery part of your routiune. Do you think athletes who aren’t full-time but have a dream should be focussing on recovery?
If I wasn’t playing professional rugby I’d be training and I’d still want to get the best out of my body and constantly improve. Whatever your sport you want to win on the weekend or get a better time and lift a heavier weight. In many ways it’s even more important for part-time athletes because they have less time to train and they need to be able to make the most out of those sessions. Recovery gives you the ability to train harder, to give yourself the best chance of winning and prevent injury from holding you back. The MyoMaster range or products are all about doing recovery in a time efficient way and making it easy to build in a short recovery programme into your training. recovery secrets you can share?
I focused on breaking up recovery into compartments of time rather than focusing on the whole journey.
What ’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
The worst injury I’ve ever had was actually just as my career was about to start. I’d finally been offered a contract by Northampton Saints and the day after the contract got offered and before I’d signed it, I was playing for Nottingham and dislocated my knee. I looked down and my foot was at a right angle to my leg. I’d torn all four ligaments. I was in hospital for three weeks, initially I was told I’d be walking with a limp for the rest of my life and never run again, that was pretty hard message to take just before you are about to sign your first professional contract.
To give credit where it’s due, Northampton academy coaches at the time Rob Hunter and Ali Heffer were unbelievable. As soon as I was able to walk five months later, they took me on and I went to Northampton Saints everyday and did my rehab there and I got back playing about 16 months later. I feel pretty lucky to have gone on to play 13 premiership seasons.
How did you stay positive whilst being away from the game for such a long time?
I was in the orthopaedic ward surrounded by old people going to have hip replacements, but there was one guy opposite me who was about 40 and he was a sports phycologist and he’d had a motorbike accident. He made me talk to him everyday about what had happened, I kept on thinking about looking down at my leg and it being out of place. He made me talk about that moment to nullify it until it just became an image in my mind rather than something with lots of negative emotions associated with it, I was lucky to meet him.
I focused on breaking up recovery into compartments of time rather than focusing on the whole journey. How long till I can get rid of the crutches? Them how long until I can start cycling? When can I get onto a rowing machine? How much longer until I can lift leg weights? Break it up into little chunks and celebrate every milestone.
I think positivity is the biggest thing that you can hold on to when you are injured, you have always got to find a way to look on the bright side and use the time wisely to come back even stronger, faster and as a better athlete.
What MyoMaster product do you wish you’d had back then?
The MyoBlaster without a doubt, it does in a few minutes what it takes a masseuse half an hour to do. It’s goes at I think 2,400 rpm, which is pretty fast. It pounds the muscles and gets right into some deep tight knots, I really could have done with that when I was recovering.
Any recovery secrets you can share?
Every match day before I leave the house to go to the game I do a hot and cold blast in the shower. A minute on and a minute off hot and cold and it switches your central nervous system on. A strength and conditioner I worked with years ago recommended it and I’ve done it ever since.
And finally, what’s your dream?
I want to continue playing professional rugby for as long as I can, I hope there a few more years in me yet. I want to make MyoMaster the home of sports recovery, providing the latest recovery products and knowledge to athletes everywhere at affordable prices.
Three time World Strongest Man competitor and Harlequins Senior Strength and Conditioner Adam Bishop talks bicep injuries, the art of juggling and achieving his ultimate dream.
Tell us about your training plan?
I make sure I do something every day. I do four heavy sessions during the week and then I have three mobility and recovery sessions. My recovery sessions are as much of a priority as my training sessions. I think the balance is key.
Why do you spend so much time on recovery?
Ultimately, the faster I can recover from the heavy training sessions, the better equipped I can be for the next training session. If you’re trying to get stronger, you train and get a big stimulus and then you recover and then you adapt. So, the faster you can recover the quicker you can adapt and that means you can train the muscle again to get stronger. Improving your recovery between sessions is simply the best way to get stronger in a shorter space of time.
You create the recovery schedule for premiership rugby team Harlequins, what role does recovery play in their schedule?
It’s hugely important. The Quins guys have got multiple sessions in a day and then have to do that for several days in a row. After a game they have lots of lactic acid build up and impact on their muscles, if they didn’t focus on recovery they wouldn’t be able to start training properly for days after their games, it’s as simple as that.
What does the Harlequins recovery schedule look like?
They have a flexibility programme which we’re working on constantly with them that comprises of passive and active stretching. They do a lot of soft tissue work to loosen themselves off before training, myofascial release with peanuts and rollers. Then they have soft tissue massage every day, either with the MyoBlaster or with a masseuse. They will also be doing muscle fire-ups on key muscle groups with glute bands or with the MyoMaster pulse. Recovery is part of their daily routine, it’s the only way they can come back day after day and make the most of the training sessions.
Some people want to be the fastest in the world, I want to be the strongest.
Tell us about the worst injury you’ve ever had?
Ooooo I’ve had a couple. Last year during Europe’s World Strongest Man I ruptured my bicep tendon lifting a 180 kilo axel which is like a set of train wheels. I pulled on the bar and my bicep pinged off and the tendon came off the bone. It was pretty devastating as we were six weeks out from World’s Strongest Man. After surgery it took me about 12 weeks to rehab it and get back to full strength.
12 weeks is a pretty quick turnaround for an injury like that, what’s your secret?
The EMS was key to me coming back in that time, it got the muscle firing before I could train and sped up my recovery without a doubt. It helped to get the bicep mass back before I could load it properly and made sure I was targeting the muscle I needed to when I got back to training. I also did a lot of soft tissue work to make sure that the tendon and muscle was pliable and get that range of motion back.
We’ve got to ask, what’s your favourite MyoMaster product?
The MyoBlaster (our deep tissue massage gun available for purchase from December 2018), I used it out in Manilla at the World’s Strongest Man finals earlier this year and it is fantastic, a great product. It’s a really quick way of loosing of any sore muscle points and trigger point and it gives you a really fast instant relief. It’s great to have in your quick bag before you go out and train.
What advice would you give to athletes who aren’t training full-time and are trying to understand how to make recovery part of their schedule?
It’s vital for anybody with a fitness goal. I’ve got a job and train on the side for strongman, so Iike many others, I’ve got a limited number of hours to train each week. If I can recover between sessions and be ready for the next one I don’t have to waste my time being sore or weak. I don’t have the luxury of having someone to give me a soft tissue massage every single day and like most people I’ve got to do it for myself so getting a solid recovery programme built into my training is key for anyone who is working towards a fitness goal.
Any tips for the athletes who are juggling work and a sporting dream?
Write down something everyday that is going to improve you. If you write it down you’re much more accountable for it. They key is to be consistent and do something that makes a difference every single day.
What’s your dream?
To win World’s Strongest Man, that’s everything I’m working for. It’s the pinnacle of the sport. Some people want to be the fastest in the world, I want to be the strongest.
My short-term goals is to win Europe’s Strongest Man in January 2019. It’s looking pretty good at the moment, I’m feeling good.
It has to be said, Adam Bishop, is a man of many talents. He started his sporting career in the Saracens rugby academy whilst also competing as a Skeleton Bobsleigh Athlete.
Today, he is a qualified strength and conditioner and has been improving the performance of professional athletes for years. Currently working with the Harlequins rugby team to ensure they are in peak physical condition to take on the premiership.
As if that wasn’t enough, he is quickly gaining recognition after competing in the last 3 World’s Strongest Man competition. After watching the competition during his time at University he fell in love with strength training and has gained notoriety within a relatively short space of time.
He understands the importance of recovery in any athletes workout and believes that prioritising recovery is fundamental to successful performance and longevity.
He’s been part of the MyoMaster team since early on, after falling in love with the prototypes of the MyoPulse and MyoBlaster and using them to support his training for World’s Strongest Man.