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What drives para-triathlon champion Kerryn Harvey?

Following on from her very personal and inspiring blog we thought we’d throw a few questions at She Science Ambassador Kerryn Harvey and let you know a bit more about this amazing para-triathlete and START Foundation founding director.

What keeps you going?   

‘’I am driven by the desire to keep pushing boundaries and seeing what I am capable of. I love training for races – the build up, the hard slog weeks, the self doubt that inevitably creeps in at some point and the ticking off the training sessions.

The sense of achievement and feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment upon completing a race is the reason I do it and it keeps me going until the next goal.’’

Jan post KerrynWhat have you done to change up your training routine that’s been helpful?

‘’In the past 12 months I have started training with others more often. I used to train solo 90% of the time but training with other like minded friends has made the sessions a lot more fun. It also keeps me accountable, and it’s great to be able to share our training and event ups and downs in a supportive environment. And of course there is often food at the end!’’

What do you think is your biggest challenge over the next 12 months?

‘’My biggest challenge is trying to achieve a number of really big sporting goals in a short time. Starting with a 3000km charity bike ride in May/June, then a Half Ironman in August, Para-triathlon World Championships in September, and then Full Ironman in December.

It will require a great deal of self management to conquer all these goals. I believe I can as I am confident I have a good, solid and sensible training strategy in place that will lead me to success.’’

181_3rd-2339536-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1966_055616-13113253 (002)What are the three things your sport has brought to your life that you treasure most?

‘’Good health, lifelong friends and belief I can achieve anything.’’

What’s your go-to meal when you’re tired but famished?

‘’Poached eggs and smashed avo with a large, skinny, extra hot, hot chocolate.’’

Do you use tools such as visualisation, goal setting, meditation etc?

‘’I have some mantras I use regularly before and during a race. It might be about technique such as “short steps, fast cadence”, or it might be a motivational mantra such as “I believe I can so I will”.’’

How much time does your sport take up in a standard week?

‘’In a full week of training I will complete 3-4 runs, 3-4 cycle sessions, and 3 swims, plus some core strength work, and stretching and/or foam roller. It’s probably around 15 hours a week if you include any travel time. I am fortunate I am a spin instructor so 3 of my cycle sessions are spin classes. It’s nice to get paid to train!’’

Our She Science team is super excited to be following Kerryn this year as she strives to tackle some huge events one after the other. We absolutely wish her all the best!

Sometimes incredible opportunity comes following incredible adversity

With the Commonwealth Games upon us it’s a good time to embrace and celebrate the fantastic athletes who will be representing their nations with pride and honour. Donning a sports uniform in your country’s colours can and does make athletes feel 10 feet taller, 10 times stronger and 10 times faster.

How do I know this? I know because for the past three years I have been fortunate enough to represent Australia as an elite paratriathlete and race against the best paratriathletes in the world. It’s an absolute dream come true for me and I pinch myself every time I lay out my Australian uniform ready to race. And yes it definitely makes me feel 10 foot taller, 10 times stronger and 10 times faster every time I zip up my race suit.

0147_10923 (002)But this wasn’t always a dream of mine and once upon a time it would have been a far fetched and ridiculous idea to suggest I would ever have this amazing opportunity to represent my country in my favourite sport.  It was a mere five years ago I was competing as an age group triathlete, racing all distances from sprint (500m swim, 20km ride, 5km run), to full Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km ride, 42km run). I would usually finish somewhere in the top third of my age group, and now again on the podium, but never on the top step. I was fit and healthy and loved racing but it was never a dream or on my radar to compete at a higher level. And quite frankly I was just not good enough!

Kerryn Announcement image

Then in 2013 my life was turned upside down. I contracted a flesh eating bacteria following a bike accident and in a matter of hours I went from being a super fit, active, sportswoman, to being unconscious on life support, in multiple organ failure, and very close to death. The flesh eating bacteria destroyed my right arm and shoulder and amputation was the only option to save my life.

I spent a week on life support, three weeks in intensive care, three months in hospital and endured 11 surgeries before I was finally well enough to come home. The long journey of rehabilitation and recovery was really only just beginning. One thing I was sure of though: despite my new circumstances and learning to live as an upper limb amputee, I was determined to regain my fitness and dreamt of one day being able to participate in a triathlon again.

It took two years of relearning to swim, ride a bike, and run, all one armed, and rebuilding my fitness and confidence, before I finally made it to the start line of a sprint distance triathlon in Melbourne. I entered and competed in my usual age category. To say I was happy to be back participating in the sport I loved is a major understatement. It felt amazing and I was ecstatic.  I expected I would be last by quite a stretch as swimming was a struggle for me. Not only did I not finish last I managed to finish about midway in my age group.

IMG_2037 (002) IMG_2034 (002)It was then the new dream began. I started comparing my times to the best paratriathletes racing in my disability class. Was I good enough to race as an elite paratriathlete? Could I race for my country? My times were quite comparable it seemed. I contacted Triathlon Australia and was given the opportunity to compete in an upcoming paratriathlon race in Penrith, NSW. This would be just my second triathlon as an amputee. Well the rest as they say is history.

I was competitive enough to be invited to join the Australian Elite Paratriathlon Team and not long after I was presented with my first Green and Gold Australian Race Suit. Since then I have raced all over Australia and in two World Championships. The first was in Chicago in 2015 where I managed to win a silver medal, and then in Rotterdam in 2016 where I took out the bronze. Both were incredible experiences and memories I will cherish forever.

This year the World Championships are on the Gold Coast in September and I hope to be included in the team once again. No matter if I am or not, the last three years of racing for my country has been such an honour and a huge thrill.

Most importantly it has given me the drive and determination to get on with my life and be open to any new opportunities that come my way.  Because sometimes incredible opportunity comes following incredible adversity.

By Kerryn Harvey94_3rd-2350624-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2002_041559-13901677 (002)

Kerryn has gone from learning to tackle life as an amputee to stepping on the podium at the World Para-Triathlon Championships, and is founding director of START Foundation. Kerryn’s committment to empowering amputees in life through sport is inspiring. Follow Kerryn via @startfoundation_aus or @captainkez


Tackling big goals and motivation with routine

Time. Motivation. Fatigue. Boredom. Pain. Kids. Work. Time. Money. Life. Rain. Cold. Heat. Humidity. Time. Life. Time.

There are so many perceived barriers to staying fit and healthy. Whether it be achieving the recommended 30 minutes or 10,000 steps a day, or training towards a bigger goal.

Urban X overIf you want something done, give it to a busy person.

I am an elite ultramarathon runner.

But I am also a full time Occupational Therapist.

And a body pump instructor.

And a recreational running coach.

And a PHd student.

And a fiancé, a daughter, a sister and a friend.

Sure, sometimes it’s really exhausting. But it’s even more exhausting if I get out of routine.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way; it’s just a big game of Tetris.


So, how do you avoid these obstacles? How do you stay motivated and give yourself the best chance of achieving your goals?

  • Make it part of your schedule. Put a schedule on the fridge so that the rest of the family can see that this is YOUR time.
  • Put yourself first. This may be easier said than done, but if you always leave yourself until last you’ll never get things done.
  • Do your exercise in the morning. Get out everything you need the night before. Jump out of bed and go. No thinking. You’ll be grateful when it hits 5pm and you can go straight home.
  • Mix it up: cross train. Go to the gym, ride a bike, do a group fitness class. I’ve been rock climbing recently for something totally different.
  • Get a coach: make yourself accountable to something other than your discipline.  This also helps you know what to do.
  • Organise morning runs or gym sessions with friends: again, making yourself accountable.Kellie East Timor July 2016
  • Surround yourself with positive people that share similar interests.
  • Take the family to ParkRun.
  • Some days, you really don’t want to head out in the rain. I get it. Always have a bag in the car ready for a trip to the gym on the way home just in case.
  • Get the kids to ride beside you whilst you run.
  • Take the dog! Double the purpose.
  • Buy a new outfit! It’s always more motivating to train when you’re looking goo. 🙂
  • Wear the right gear, have everything on hand just in case. The rain’s not so bad if you wear a hat and a raincoat.

If you’re training for something longer it can get more difficult with increased time requirements and motivation levels.

  • Remember the end goal.
  • Remember WHY you are doing this.
  • Take a trip away. The kilometers tick over so much more quickly in a new place.
  • Get out early so that you can still be done by lunch time.
  • Know that it’s ok to have a sleep in from time to time. Listen to your body and mix things up.
  • Take a train or get dropped off somewhere and run back. I find one direction runs much easier to deal with mentally.

Most importantly, never forget to stick with a general ROUTINE.

Happy Training!

By Kellie Emmerson

Kellie Emmerson She Science head shot 2014Placing 5th in the world in the 2017 UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc), 2016 Australian Trail Champion, Kellie Emmerson is a She Science Ambassador and serial ultra-marathon podium finisher.  Kellie professionally works as an Occupational Therapist, Running Coach and Body Pump Instructor. You can follow Kellie on facebook and on Instagram @kelemmo. 

Ovarian Cancer: Detection and Support

When I was growing up it was more of a rarity to know someone who had cancer. Nowadays it’s a rare if you don’t know multiple people who have been touched by this ever prevalent disease.

For me, it was my mum.

Mum was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer (which means it had spread beyond the ovaries) in 2004 and sadly died two years later.

CWSF4 (002)She was an extremely caring and thoughtful person, a passionate mother, loving wife, generous friend and a dedicated nurse. Mum was born and raised in Bendigo, Victoria. She graduated from St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne in 1972 and completed her midwifery studies at the Mercy Maternity Hospital in 1973. Mum ended up ”walking the wards” for 37 years.

Unfortunately, as there are still no early detection tests for Ovarian Cancer – and there is a lack of symptoms in the early stages of the disease, many women are diagnosed when the tumours have spread, making it harder to treat.

This means that the lack of survivors can’t share their cancer journey and advocate to make others more aware.

Also, due to the lack of training in the area of gynaecological cancers (cancers of the female reproductive system), many women are treated as a general cancer patient rather than with specialised care.

My two older sisters, Amy and Jo, myself and two of Mum’s dear friends Marita and Janet, thought women needed specialised support on their cancer journey.

CWSF2So we established the Catherine Wotton Scholarship Fund. Our initial target to set up the fund was $100,000 (yes, my jaw dropped too when I heard this was our target!). We achieved this through various functions, breakfasts, golf tournaments, major sponsors, a now annual Cath Wotton Cup football match, bake sales, sausage sizzles, raffles and the greatly appreciated support of our generous network of friends. The comforting part is we now know this scholarship will be sustainable long into the future.

CWSF3 (002) CWSF1 (002)The scholarship provides registered nurses the opportunity to undertake further study and training in the area of gynaecological and especially ovarian cancers. The aim is to address the current shortage of gynaecological nurses, so that vulnerable women are supported and receive specialised care throughout their cancer journey.

Since 2014 the Scholarship Fund has had four recipients doing remarkable things for women with gynaecological cancers. You can see more about what our past recipients have achieved at our website.

It also aims to raise awareness of gynaecological cancers amongst women in the community.

One woman dies every 10 hours from Ovarian Cancer.

The ideal is for an early detection test to become readily available. This would enable women in the future to add a routine Ovarian Cancer test to their habitual pap smear or breast mammogram enhancing their chances of diagnosing it in its early stages. Until then, hopefully with the help of our scholarship fund, women will get specific care to treat their gynaecological cancer.

If you would like further information about this scholarship please visit our website

Images: 1: Lou Wotton and her Mum Cath. 2: The Eastern Devils donning teal jumpers for the Annual Cath Wotton Cup. 3: Cath Wotton Fund logo. 4: The team that established the Cath Wotton Fund (from left) Amy, Janet, Jo, Marita and Lou.  


LouBy Lou Wotton

Lou is a 2017 Collingwood AFLW player, accomplished Ironman and triathlete. Lou is a She Science Ambassador and you can follow her on Instagram @wotto19.


All The Comfort, Style and Support a Girl Wants

The first thing you look for in a sports bra, like any other piece of clothing, is comfort. And, the Brooks Rebound Racer provides just that, plus style and support – all things a girl could want out of a bra.

_S1_2762Around six months prior to taking on my She Science ambassador role, I had already purchased a Rebound Racer after being fitted by Ange. I wore it almost every day. Since then, I have adopted three more of the same, just in different colours.

What could possibly be so great about this model that I just keep going back for more? Well, there are several features on the Rebound Racer that, as a teen, I love.

Firstly: the adjustable shoulder straps. The straps have small tabs of velcro neatly tucked away underneath enabling you to, at any point, change your mind and loosen or tighten them to your liking.

350037_690_d1_ZM_clipped_rev_1350037_690_d2_ZM_clipped_rev_1Then there is the adjustable back clip with three different tightness options. This allows for a longer period of use as the fabric may stretch (although, I’ve had my oldest one for over a year and I have yet to feel the need to tighten the clasp). The back clip allows you to be supported and the bra to sit firm around your chest, but without feeling like you are trying really hard to breath during a workout or whilst running errands.

Another well thought out feature of the sports bra is the two layers of fabric. The first layer is to ensure you don’t have any uncomfortable situations that some women may encounter when it becomes cold, with the second thicker layer, which is almost like a bandage, providing the tightness or support you relate to by feeling held in.

And fourth but certainly not final: the colour range. Wearing my Rebound Racer bras every day, I feel like I need some variation in colour. With the choice I have (green, blue, purple and pink), I can turn on my inner fashionista and mix and match with my ”outfit” (9/10 times it is Lycra to go out for a ride).

Images provided by Brooks 

As I mentioned before I am an active teen. I ride bikes, go to school and work in a bike shop. Running from place to place, I need something that will keep me feeling supported and can continue to do so in the various activities I complete on a daily basis. At 16, I have well and truly stepped off the puberty train and developed into a young women. I wear a size 10D and, for my age, I would classify myself as small breasted. But even being a small 16 year old, I still need adequate support to feel comfortable with what I do each day. The Brooks Rebound Racer holds me in just right and enables me to run, jump, ride over logs and do whatever else I desire without fretting about discomfort or lack of support.

By Courtney Snowball

IMG_9009Courtney is a She Science Ambassador and avid Mountain Biker. At just 16 she is competing in the national mountain biking circuit, placing 4thoverall in 2016 and 3rd overall in 2017. This year she has qualified for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in September. Follow her on Instagram @courtney_snowball.


A Sports Bra That Has Everything You Want For Sport

Comfort, support, feeling good! Three things you want in a bra when playing sport!

I originally noticed how unsupportive the bra I was wearing was, when on one of my training runs I caught my reflection in a shop window as I ran past. I was horrified! It just so happened that one of my run routes was past the She Science store. Needless to say, seeing that ”bounce” was more than enough motivation for me to get a specialised sports bra fitting.

Wotto Collingwood V Adelaide (003)My in-store experience at She Science was extremely pleasant. I was met with a friendly face and helpful service. Not only was I fitted, I was able to wear test the bra on the treadmill to put it through its paces!

I was fitted for the Brooks* Juno*. From the moment I put this bra on I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much I had to go back and purchase two more.

The Juno is wire free and has smooth seams which means no chaffing and a super comfortable fit. Its high coverage and racer back configuration makes it a supportive, firm fit which really reduces the bounce.

Lou during the AFL Women’s Collingwood versus Adelaide match. Picture: Michael Wilson

The front adjusting straps is a practical addition as straps can be tightened while wearing the bra. One of my team mates has this bra and she has found it to be convenient whilst still breastfeeding her youngest.

I have found the thin foam moulded cups an added bonus for AFL, especially on a cold night at footy training when taking a chest mark!

I used to dread putting my old sports bras on, as I knew I would end up with wire digging in, indent marks from my straps and the bra not actually doing its job.Wotto Devils 2017 (003)

I am so glad I found the Juno as it’s the most comfortable sports bra I have ever worn. Do yourself a favour, as they say ”look good, feel good, play good”!


(*The Brooks Juno was previously under the Moving Comfort brand. Lou was fitted into the *Relaunched 2017 version of the Juno. This bra was updated and re-released in March this year. It is now easier to get on, has moisture wicking moulding in the cup and the fasteners have been updated.)

Lou playing in the VFL for the Eastern Devils. Picture: Russ Canham


LouBy Lou Wotton

Lou is a 2017 Collingwood AFLW player, accomplished Ironman and triathlete. Lou is a She Science Ambassador and you can follow her on Instagram @wotto19.

Rundies – Sports Underwear That Doesn’t Ride Up!

I have always worn minimal underwear due to that horrible undie line you always seem to get underneath your gym wear. You can feel it creasing as you walk and consciously are forever pulling them down to lessen the effects of ”that” line.

Then along came the Berlei Free Cut Boyleg Briefs.  Super light and comfy, you feel confident knowing you don’t have a baggy bum!

wwrw1a_neq_1WWRW1A_BA1_3As a She Science Ambassador, we get to try lots of different types of apparel and underwear and when I saw the Berlei rundies, I wasn’t convinced they were for me.  However, upon starting to wear them, initially just under a pair of jeans – which I highly recommend, I noticed how comfortable and light they really were.

I am now a convert, wearing my Berlei rundies under all my gym gear and even casual gear from time to time, mainly because I need a few more pairs!

These are undies you can count on, the inside tape holds them in place so they don’t ride up and the cool max material keeps the moisture away from your skin. Truly comfy undies!

By Wendy Snowball, Mountain Bike Coach, @spincyclecoachingsolutions

FB_IMG_1467005445202Wendy Snowball is a She Science Ambassador, Mountain Bike Level 1 Coach and Skills Coach, She Rides Leader, and placed 4th in the World Masters Championships. You can follow her @spincyclecoachingsolutions, and on Facebook as Wendy Snowball.


Running Is All In Your Head! Set Your Mind That You Can

I am not a runner. I have never been a runner.

My body had been trained to run 22 yards and back at pace wearing pads, gloves and carrying a bat. Or, it was trained to take off quickly to chase a ball in 39 degree heat at the height of summer. My body was comfortable with this for over 15 years. From an early age I’ve conditioned my body and my brain that I’m not a runner.

But now I am. I am a runner because my head allowed me to be. Sitting fairly and squarely on each of my shoulders is a logical, practical, passionate, perfectionist brain that makes decisions, sometimes in consultation with other parts of my body, but mostly on its own.

I played team sports at high school and took up club cricket in Year 7; I love feeling part of something bigger where everyone is working together to achieve a goal.

So when the group I do personal training with raved about the runs they’d recently completed and the ones they’d signed up for in the coming months, my imagination was captured and I wanted in.

IMG_3218 (002)It began with the 5kms Run 4 The Kids in 2013. More nervous than when I walk out to bat, I sooked up a treat at the start line admiring all the families running in memory of a loved one. I ran the 5kms without stopping and cried again at the finish line elated to share in the overwhelming sense of achievement with my friends– I had done it!

Since then, I haven’t looked back and have actually enjoyed running and all that comes with it: the training, the early starts, the injuries and the weather.  Mostly I enjoy the group of people I train with. We all come from different walks of life, our fitness levels vary and our availability to run is scattered but we all have the same goal – to run.  The support from this group is incredible, which is needed when I feel like rolling over and going back to sleep – I don’t because I don’t want to let the group down because they rely on me to support them too. Plus, the breakfast and chat afterwards makes it even more enjoyable!

IMG_3747 (003)We’ve run:

  • Run Melbourne
  • Melbourne Marathon 10km
  • Zoo Twilights @ Melbourne Zoo
  • Run the Gap at Halls Gap
  • City 2 Surf in Sydney and;

The furthest I’ve ever run – The Gold Coast Half Marathon in 2015. In the six months leading into the ‘race’, our group was committed to each other and to training. Every Sunday morning at 7.30am we’d hit the streets regardless of weather, emotion or life circumstance. So often I would feel that there was no way I could run up the hill or 10kms let alone 21km, but as the months got colder, the distance got further and upon returning to the car I’d realise we’d just run the furthest I’d ever run. I had a grin from ear-to-ear and may have done a little ‘look what I just achieved!’ dance, much to the amusement of my fellow runners! The weekend at the Gold Coast is the highlight of my running career, I did it and I did it under my goal of 2hrs 30mins – an experience I will never forget nor could have achieved without the support of the friends I ran with and telling myself that I could actually do it.

We all need support, a text message here and there, a Facebook photo of an injury or bib arriving in the mail keeps us all on track at various stages ensuring that we meet our goals. We support each other on the runs too, willing each other along with words of support or rationale just to run to the next tree or street sign. This is what I love about our group.

You can do it too – it’s all about setting your mind to it and there are three key steps:

  1. You have to find what motivates you. For me, it’s being part of a group.

FullSizeRender (003)You must find what makes you run (firstly) and then to keep running, up the hill, to the next kilometre or simply get out of bed and get there on time. I would never have achieved the 8 runs that I have done if it had not been for the fabulous members of our group and for getting clear about what it was that was motivating me.

2. Look good, feel good.

Splurge on those runners, tights, sports bra and socks. You want to get out of bed and know you will be comfortable. I LOVE my Asics Kayano runners, my Brooks Rebound Racer Sports Bra, my 2XU tights, and socks. I love socks! My 2XU and Balega socks are like running on pillows. Splurge – do it! You’ll feel great when you look great.

3. Become an archer – you need to have a target.

I find when I sign up for a run, I am actually motivated to do something about it. So sign up – just do it and then work out how you’re going to hit the bullseye. I get butterflies in my tummy every time I sign up for a run, but overtaking that is the memory of the feeling of crossing the finish line!

Did I set out to be a runner? No, I joined a fitness group to get fit. But I discovered my brain and my body CAN work together to achieve a goal, whatever that might be.

IMG_4793 (002)The perception is that there is a ‘mould’ of runner – skinny, running shorts, singlet, visor and a smooth stride that makes it look easy. I can tell you that this is certainly not the case, you can become a runner – it’s all in your head. Believe you want to do it and you will.


By Tamara Mason

IMG_5792 (002)Launch pic hi resTamara is an avid cricket player who has a passion for encouraging females to play cricket. She’s also now a runner and She Science Ambassador. You can follow Tamara at @masonte007

Overtraining Syndrome – Signs, Symptoms and How To Manage or Avoid It

I suffered with Chronic Fatigue for three years after getting glandular fever in my early twenties. Previous to this I was your typical Type A overachiever- studying a science degree and then Physio Masters full time, working part time, training 15+ hours a week for triathlon and socialising. On top of this I severely restricted my caloric intake in an effort to be lean and fast and through a warped body image. Burning the candle at both ends and feeling invincible as I had lived like this for years and had seemingly unlimited energy- my friends called me “Duracell”!

Then I got glandular fever and fought and fought and refused to fully rest. This reluctance to surrender to what my body was telling me lead to me having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for years. Each time I started to get a bit better I pushed myself over the edge again. Finally I learnt to respect and listen to my body- I took a big step back from sport and focussed on wellness. Ultimately my body healed through natural therapies, a nourishing diet, rest, mindfulness and following my body’s intuition, but it took a long time and it was a long gradual build up back to training.

I am now back in competitive sport and performing better than ever. I train differently to how I used to and to others around me. I focus on quality sessions and not quantity and I take a lot more rest/recovery than my Type A mind tells me I should. I still slip up and overdo it sometimes, but now I can read my body and quickly correct my mistakes and recover.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is very similar to Overtraining Syndrome. It is a horrible hole to go down and can take years to recover. I have written this blog in an effort to help other athletes and overachievers avoid overtraining.

You can still be a great athlete and perform at your peak without jeopardizing your health.

What is Overtraining syndrome?

 Overtraining Syndrome is the result of an imbalance in exertion and recovery, generally over a sustained period of time. It is a maladaptive response to excessive exercise when not matched with appropriate recovery and results in changes to multiple body systems.

A person would be diagnosed with Overtraining Syndrome if they saw a sudden decrease in athletic performance and increase in perceived effort and this does not improve with rest.

What are the symptoms?

 Some or all of the following symptoms may be experienced. Generally the more advanced the Overtraining Syndrome is the more symptoms that will be experienced and the longer the recovery process.350064_419_Juno_LS_F17_001 BRK_F17_Sports_Bras_Spring_Juno_18462_i22778x04A_3u

  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Increased perceived effort and heart rate to previously “easy level” training
  • Ongoing fatigue that doesn’t dissipate with rest
  • Lack of motivation
  • Change in appetite
  • Depression or altered mood
  • Increased and /or unexplained Injuries
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Decreased accuracy of fine motor skills and/or coordination
  • Hormonal changes
  • Weight changes
  • Increased illness and common colds

What causes it?

Too much stress (physical, emotional and mental) and not enough recovery is the main cause of Overtraining Syndrome.

Other causes are:

  • A rapid or sudden increase in training volume and/or intensity. Or a rapid or sudden increase in life load/stress without a reduction in training.
  • Insufficient sleep and/or recovery.
  • Diet also has a big effect. A poor diet- high in inflammatory foods and low in nutrients will increase stress to the body. Insufficient calories consumed to fuel training and life will leave the body depleted and unable to recover and adapt from training.

 How do I avoid it?

Be careful to look at whole life load rather than just your training load. All aspects of life can contribute to fatigue and stress so these must be considered when building a training program. If you have a high life load then you probably won’t be able to log as many hours of training as peers with less life stressors. This may change over time – for example if you are going through a stressful time then it would be wise to reduce your training load over this time.

  • Start any new training program gradually – ie: start with just one hard session per week and gradually increase as your body adapts.
  • Monitor your tolerance to your training and whole life load. Try to be objective and honest and don’t be influenced by what you think you should be able to do/need to do or what others are doing.
  • Monitor your response to training – if a session suddenly feels a lot harder than it should/usually does then take a few days of rest. If this feeling persists see a medical professional.
  • Take regular rest days and easy weeks. Taking every fourth week as a reduced mileage and easier effort week is common in many training programs.
  • Take at least one easy recovery day after every hard training session. Be honest with yourself about how much recovery your body needs – you may need two or three days to be ready to train hard again.
  • Take easy recovery days/weeks after racing as required. This will vary depending on the length of the race and whether it was performed at maximal effort or for training. The longer the race the more recovery will be needed. Generally three days as a minimum increasing up to several weeks for long endurance races. Again, listen to your body.
  • Consume a healthy, balanced diet that contains adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat to meet your body’s needs for training and life.
  • Reduce foods that increase inflammation and stress in your body such as processed food, refined grains and sugars, fried foods, excess caffeine/stimulants/alcohol, any foods that you have/suspect you have intolerances to.
  • Drink plenty of water and replace electrolytes as needed during hot or long/hard training sessions and races.
  • Reduce emotional stressors in your life where possible.
  • Do something for you regularly that reduces your stress (not a training session!) such as having a massage, doing a yoga class or going to see a movie with a friend._HR21267
  • Participate in regular meditation. More and more evidence is showing that meditation and mindfulness is an effective way to lower stress and increase physical and emotional health. It may also make you more in tune with your body so you are better able to recognise when you need rest or an imbalance in the body that could become an injury. There are great apps and YouTube clips for at home guided meditations.
  • Try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Monitor your heart rate. Many athletes monitor their waking resting heart rate. If this increases above their normal they will take rest days or see a medical professional until it returns to their normal.
  • If you begin to see any signs of overtraining reduce your training, particularly the hard sessions and see a medical professional.

Images courtesy of Brooks

By Lauren Starr, Physiotherapist

blog pic vLauren Starr is a physiotherapist and also takes clinical pilates, hydrotherapy and yoga classes. Outside of work she spends her spare time running. She has competed in trail and road events but has currently shifted her focus to athletics. 



Top 10 Tips for Beginner Female Bike Riders

People often ask me “Courtney, how did you get into mountain bike riding? How did you start?” My response is always “My parents introduced me – I was forced to love it!”

But for people who don’t have bike loving parents that can be slightly tricky.

The best thing about bike riding is that it can be for anyone – styles vary and can be fitted to anyone’s needs. This can range from smashing out a PB on a road bike up the ‘1 in 20’ Mt Dandenong climb to riding along a rail trail for a coffee to tearing up the dirt on a mountain bike or getting muddy on a cyclocross. There is something for everyone.

My 10 hot tips can encourage anyone to get out and give it a go!

Hot tips

1: Get some gear


  • Helmet
  • Shoes (sneakers are a good start)
  • Leggings (or bike knicks if you are more comfortable)
  • T-shirt
  • Sports bra (because support is important!)
  • A bike (any sort, so long as it pedals, has brakes and changes gears, particularly if you plan on going up hills)
  • A decent bike pump


  • Take bike to trail (e.g. Lilydale to Warburton rail trail or Lysterfield tracks)
  • Ride bike
  • Have fun

Simple as that! You don’t need to look the part or be the next Bec Henderson (Australian Olympic Mountain Biker) – you just need to have fun.

2: Take a friend

Find people who are willing to be adventurous and unafraid of mud and dirt! (This is a requirement, as half the fun is getting dirty and comparing the amount of mud covering your bike at the end of a great ride.)

Wendy Courtney May 20173: Ask around

Do some research on women’s riding social groups (Tribal Cycling or She Rides Australia are really good ones to check out, as are your local cycling club or bike shop) for recommendations of trails/rides to check out. Ask if anyone would like to join you. It never hurts to ask and you’d be surprised how many other females are interested in cycling.

4: Try it all

Hire, beg, borrow or steal (not recommended) all different types of bikes for the different styles of riding – road riding, MTBing (cross country), downhill (if you’re game), cyclocross, enduro etc. You’ll never know your forte till you’ve tried them all!

5: Get out for a skills session

From my experience I cannot recommend enough trying out skills sessions. They are so useful and instructors can help you feel more confident on the bike and workshop new techniques to incorporate into your riding. Skills sessions can be run through clubs like Warrandyte Mountain Bike Club (See hot tip no. 6) or businesses such as She Rides (a program run by Cycling Australia – it is specifically for women alike who want to ride and feel confident riding. To find out more —> check out the link  One of my first ever skills sessions was with elite mountain biker Jenni King and my now coach Adam Kelsall.

6: Join a club

This is such a helpful way to meet new riding buddies with common interests or just feel part of the greater community within cycling. There are plenty of clubs around Victoria who encourage all types of riders to join – Warrandyte, Lysterfield, Geelong, Alpine, Bendigo etc. all have friendly successful MTB clubs with a strong network. St Kilda, Hawthorn and Blackburn road riding clubs are also well known amongst the cycling community.

7: Try out a race or a target event

Yes, I know it sounds intimidating but, hey, you’ll never know unless you try, right? Longer races such as three or six hour endurance races (which is more fun than it sounds – I promise!) are great events to bring a group of friends to and enter as a team. It is a day of good chatter, laughs and awesome riding! It’s also another way to get out and socialise with the forever-expanding bike community.

If road riding is your thing, maybe have a go at a criterium in the Summer.  Any of the road clubs mentioned above will be able to provide you with details to get you started.  There are also lots of mass participation social rides organised which you could enter with a friend or a group.  Set you and your friends a goal to be part of the Around the Bay in a Day in October.  There are many different rides lengths to choose from: from the ultra-challenging 250km all the way down to a beginners 25km.

16118319_693248764186264_265452137_n8: Make it a regular activity

Don’t just ride once in a blue moon! If you truly enjoy it make riding something you do daily, weekly or fortnightly with family and friends or by yourself. You could even try commuting to work or school to keep it interesting and part of a routine.

9: Explore

Riding takes you places – I would know! My family and I have been to so many different destinations that we would have never discovered or enjoyed nearly as much if we weren’t riding bikes. Go look at new places. Get out on the dirt at Lysterfield, go up to Bright and ride the single tracks before breakfast or the rail trail out to the berry farm for a late afternoon treat. Spice it up and you’ll be surprised at what you discover.

10: Don’t be afraid

My lucky last tip: don’t ever be intimidated or afraid!

Most cyclists are friendly people, and will gladly help when asked. When you’re riding in a group, don’t apologise if you think you’re not going fast enough or you can’t quite make it up the hill. It doesn’t matter. If you’re having fun and enjoying yourself you will have a good time and so will your peers.

So, there you have it. Riding is for everyone. If you’re tall, short, eight years old or 80, all you have to do is pedal, sweat (optional), get a bit dirty and most importantly HAVE FUN!

By Courtney Snowball

CIMG_9009ourtney is a She Science Ambassador and avid Mountain Biker. At just 16 she is competing in the national mountain biking circuit, placing 4th overall in 2016 and 3rd overall in 2017. This year she has qualified for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in September. Follow her on Instagram @courtney_snowball.

(Pictures: Ross Snowball)