Blog: The Fitness Zone

You're never too old or too fat to uncover the competitor within. The Nelson Mail's Peter Gibbs helps readers to overcome their fears and discover the pleasures and benefits of being fit.

Knocking off Ironman Austria

05:00am 04 Jul 2014


Joanne Hillis admits she's a social triathlete. Before she moved from England to Ruby Bay two years ago, she'd travelled with friends to various half ironman events and had completed her first full ironman in Florida just before she came here.

When she moved to Nelson, she found a great group of new friends to train with, including Debbi Bamfield, who also lives in Ruby Bay.

When Joanne, 43, decided to go back to Europe to join her friends there in last weekend's Ironman Austria, she asked Debbi, 52, if she'd like to go, too.

Debbi's from the United States but has lived in New Zealand for a while. She hasn't a large triathlon background. She did a few marathons 25 years ago, then had a spell as a competitive cyclist, doing races of up to 160 kilometres.

A few years ago she found the Port Nelson Sea Swims.

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Nothing like a short, sharp shock

05:00am 27 Jun 2014


Over the past few decades, keeping fit has become an accepted part of our lifestyle in a way that didn't happen up until the 1970s or 1980s.

At first it was jogging and the marathon craze. Road cycling came on strong and so did mountainbiking.

Ocean swimming is pretty big lately, although it's taking a seasonal break.

Triathlon took my fancy, although its arrival in the mid to late 80s was a bit late for my prime.

So many ways to get fit and a lot of our choices come down to motivation.

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Runner reaps the rewards

05:00am 20 Jun 2014


My first few years of running were like an infatuation. I couldn't get enough of it - I'd be at every harrier club run in the winter and every pub run in the summer.

Training was no chore - I looked forward to it. When I wasn't running I'd take every opportunity to read about it.

That wasn't easy, in the mid-80s there didn't seem to be many books about running.

In those days, one bought running gear at Taylor's Footwear in Richmond, or Athletic Attic in Hardy St. The Nelson shop was then owned by Robbie and Margaret Johnston, who soon changed its name to Athleisure as they broke away from the franchise.

In that shop, I found a book which was to become my bible. The New Zealand Road to Fitness, written by Hawke's Bay physiotherapist John Wheeler and published in 1984, was an inspirational book that talked enthusiastically about the joys of running, then in later chapters went into some detail about injuries and how to deal with them.

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Warming up for summer racing

05:00am 12 Jun 2014

The competitive sea swimming boom shows no sign of abating.

There's no active sea swimming going on right now, but the symptoms are there if you duck into your local swimming pool.

At most times of day, the pools are getting good use from both dedicated sea swimmers and recreational users getting some healthy exercise.

There's a condensed version at Riverside Pool early on Saturday mornings, when triathletes and sea swimmers take up four lanes for a two-hour session. Last weekend, 40 swimmers were there - quite a squeeze.

The other lanes were taken by teen swimmers from the Nelson South club, so close to 60 highly proficient swimmers were making waves at the same time.

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Teenage racers make their mark

05:00am 06 Jun 2014


One impressive aspect of the recent Shoe Clinic Mountainbike Duathlon Series was the huge pool of teenagers who are coming up through the ranks.

We're not talking here about kids just finishing in the top half of races - during the last series competitors as young as 13 were winning the short series against very fast adults.

In the long series, teens from 16-18 were filling most of the top five places against athletes with national titles against their names.

It'll be interesting to see how the next wave of multi-discipline athletes aged 5-13 do in Sunday's Sport Tasman Kids Duathlons over short versions of the same courses.

In these races, kids will compete on run and bike courses from a few hundred metres upwards.

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