香港三項鐵人代表蔡欣妍網誌:Training in the garden city

Just to help you RECAP

To catch up, the team and I set off to New Zealand in early January, just before Chinese New Year. We have finished eight weeks block of base training in HongKong before kicking start our two months journey in Christchurch. Now, I have gone through almost six weeks of hard-core training.


Garden city? Do I train in the garden or a city? Both of them don’t make any sense. City is way too busy for triathlon training, whereas training in the garden is just way too weird. But here I am, at the Southern Hemisphere, a place that well-known for their special HAKA culture. Bingo! I am at NewZealand. To be more specific, the eastern-most part of the KIWI, Christchurch. I never have imagined that the city can be such calm, peaceful, and gorgeously garden-looking.  As a geography student, I think Christchurch is way too GREEN that I couldn’t use any words to describe. Just by closing your eyes and immersing yourself in the beautiful songs of cockatiels, you can feel the merciful and marvellous Mother Nature. I am really glad to train in this awesome place.


Training Partners VS training solo? 

To highlight, I was surprised to train with various world-class triathletes and Paralympic swimmer in the camp. It was definitely an eye-opening and fruitful experience to see how they train and prepare for every training session. I think one question may pop up in your mind while I suggested the word “training partner”.  With no doubt, “two is always better than one” in some training as we can motivate one another through positive direct competition. I vividly remembered the “bloody” swim set when I swam with one of the top women triathlete, Mika. In that set, we had to do repeats of 200 meters, each set went by with 5 seconds less resting time. Each set I was stepping in the red zone and trying my best to endure and somehow, “embrace” the pain. But to a certain point, I couldn’t hold on and ready to “explode” at any time.

At that typical moment, I took a quick glance at Mika. To my surprise, with her heavy breathing pattern and much fatigued expression, I knew that she was suffering as much as I did. I immediately realized that I shall not exaggerate how I felt as everyone felt the hurt as I had encountered. With that sudden huge bang on my mind, I re-focused on excelling my limit and put in triple effort in smashing the set. I came out with a new PB that I didn’t expect. To reflect, I find my best motivation for training is having good training partners to work with. No matter how bloody hard is the training, you know that you have your best mates to work with, laugh with or lean against when you are in the box of despair. As our coach said, “Always pat your partners on their back after the session as they have gone through ups and downs with you”. That’s true.


Once in a life-time experience 

Except training, you may think that life as an athlete is monotonous and dull.

That may be half correct. I believe that being a high performance athlete should be highly-discipline, for example, having a good recovery, eating nutritious food, having adequate amount of sleep and nap hours, etc. On the other hand, it is vitally important that athletes also lead a well-balanced life out of sports. As I have taken a year off school this year, I have started reinforcing my language ability by learning one new language -Japanese. I was glad to have one Japanese triathlete training with us so I grabbed that precious chance to learn from her. Other than that, our team would also go out for a movie and have Chinese cuisine in town once in a week.


One fantastic activity to highlight would be having the RARE opportunity to watch the rugby competition. As you all know, New Zealand was famous for their defending titles of numerous international rugby races. The game that night was the team Crusader verse Chives. I must say that it was the most-exciting game I have ever watched. The feeling was just indescribable while overwhelming in the crowds of avid and passionate rugby fans. Other than that, I also got the chance to see a netball match in the newly furnished netball stadium. What a blast!


New insight on injury

Dreaming of going to the Olympic is every athlete’s biggest aspiration. However, having injury is just a sudden night mare. If you have experienced injury before, I mean the kind of injury that nagged you for more than 1 month and you have no choice but to suspend all your training, then you would understand the sense of frustration, insecurity and discomfort. Many open-ended questions may pop up in your mind. Some are positive but most are destructive. In my point of view, I used to hate injury. I could withstand any physical pain but couldn’t stand with the pain that torturing me mentally. Maybe it was mentally distressing not being able to train, to doing the thing I really love. However, I came up with a deep realization of injury after watching Sochi’s Winter Olympic in television. Each day I sat in front of the TV after dinner to watch whatever broadcast on show. I am not a “Ski-kaholic” but I love watching how athletes perform in the Olympic Game. To my surprise, statics showed that almost 90% of competitors were actually skiing in pain. In other words, they were injured. Watching the women’s alpine skiing made me shocked to see how fast they could go skiing on snow. With no doubt, the twists and turns, tricky and technical corners at steep slopes definitely posed tremendous pressure on their knees and lower back. No wonder the injury rate of skiers was that high. However, most of the athletes still continue to take up the sports regardless of the pain. One of the post-race medallists’ interviews has touched me. “I think every athlete dream of competing in the Olympic. I was glad to get there and grabbed a medal for my country. The road was not easy as I suffered from knee injury from high speed skiing. The biggest temptation was to Give Up. Though there were ample of trials, I was glad to have a big supporting team behind me.  I think the medal does not belong to me but all who have helped meand strengthened me to reach my full potential. I love you guys…”

Injury may seem to be irresistible to high perform athletes. I now see it as a turning point rather than a dead end. From the injury, you can learn more about your body and get to know how your body react and coordinate with different training intensity. In order to train consistently with minimum injury, I know how to perfect your recovery work to wind down the muscles and nerves. The most touching thing is that you know you are being taken care, being loved by your supporting team. So don’t let the temptation get over you. Believe that the best is yet to come. Believe the injury is preparing you for a bigger success.


Continual thanks for my superb coach, Patrick, for all your care and guidance, as well as my dear team mates for your GAGs and “intangible loves” that made the trip more interesting and sweet. Special thanks shall be given to the Sports Institute in Hong Kong which financially supported us that made the training camp a successful one. (That should include all tax payers I think) Another big thanks shall also go to my sponsors, Oakley and Powerbar, for all your superb gears and awesome nutrition. Lastly, I shall never forget to say “thank you” to my dearest Papa Mama and Molly for your daily warm messages that fuel me up with strength to fearlessly chasing for my dream.


Two more weeks before heading back home.


Step by step, ready to be a strong athlete.

Thanks for reading.

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