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Supporting the Runners at the Arizona Olympic Prep Camp

Posted on May 20th, 2016

Harris & Ross massage therapist, Becky Ellis has just returned from the Olympic prep camp out in Arizona! Lucky thing! She tells us how the athletes prepare for the qualifiers…

Last month I was asked to work for the British Athletics team, to support the middle and long distance athletes, based at their training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona!

My role was to be on hand and provide support, carrying out pre and post run massages to each runner, ensuring they train to the best of their ability and keep those injuries and little niggles at bay.

Flagstaff is located 145 miles north of Phoenix, with the main town and training facilities situated at an altitude of 2100m. The athletes train with less oxygen in the air, resulting in the production of more red blood cells when they eventually return to sea level, which in turn helps to improve their performance. IMG_1987Training at such a height, the athletes’ bodies will go through some physiological changes; for example a shift in the bodies’ fluid levels, or a change in blood components. Therefore it is important to control the intensity and volume of training, enabling the body to adapt in a controlled manner. If they fail to take it easy while they acclimatise to the new environment, it could result in excess fatigue, possibly negating any potential training benefits; knowing this, the athletes will train at a more reduced pace.

A typical day for the athletes would usually start with a run in the morning around 8.30am and another in the evening at 5pm. During the day, they are expected to have power naps ranging from 30 to 90 mins, breaking up the rest time with exercises, including drills, core and a gym session.

The athletes at the camp were each focussed on their distances, they ranged from 800m to 10,000m runners and all aiming to reach qualifying standards, to be able to compete at this year’s Olympics in Rio.

Each participant will run from around 50 to 120 miles a week and at 21,000m above sea level, the body will feel more fatigued than usual and the recovery will take a little longer, which is why my skills come in handy.

Most of the athletes prefer deep tissue massage and with them having regular massage once or twice a week, their pain threshold is quite high!

Flagstaff itself is very green and has a great mountainous landscape. The Grand Canyon is only over an hour’s drive away and some of the athletes and staff including myself were able to make hope I’ve captured its vast beauty in my pictures.

Overall, it was another great camp and another great experience, where I worked closely alongside the head physiotherapist.

In a few months, I will be working back with the selected British Athletics team for the Olympics in in the Pyrenees, from there they will fly straight into the games!


To book an appointment with Becky Ellis, please click on the Request An Appointment tab, or call us on 0161 832 9000.

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