Run Hackney caught up with Physio and Clinic Director Helen O'Neill ahead of the 2016 vitality Run Hackney Half Marathon
Q&A with 'Chief Fixer' Helen O'Neill
Helen, tell us a little about Fix, how long it’s been going and what motivates you and your team to get out of bed in the morning and come to Fix
The vision for Fix was to create a really top class, multidisciplinary team to help people achieve their very best physical potential. I was working out in Whistler with the Canadian Snowboard team and was blown away with the results that a team working together for a person and their could achieve.
We had top physios, massage therapists, trainers, nutritionists and coaches all working for the good of the client, sharing information and skills. We even had sports physicians and surgeons available on call when needed, and I thought to myself, “I want to build something like that for people back at home". That, in a nutshell is the philosophy behind Fix and is what keeps us all motivated and passionate. Learning from each other and working together for the good of our clients.
Fix turned 3 just before Run Hackney and has been partnering this great event since it started. We're proud of being Hackney-based and love being a part of the event. We raise money each year for the race charities and volunteer our time on race day to help the runners before and after the race.
If you could give three pieces of advice for those training for Run Hackney, what would they be?
If you have something that’s niggling you or doesn’t feel quite right, don’t ignore it – it could come back to bite you as your mileage and/or speed starts to increase.
Believe in yourself and your own capabilities. Your brain and body has an amazing capacity to learn, heal, adapt and achieve.
Make the time to think positively, eat properly, stretch and train properly. To quote a slogan from Rondorff – Discipline Is Not A Dirty Word.
Any tips for first timers on race day?
Obviously, to enjoy it. Remember it’s an amazing achievement just to get there and the actual race day is just the fun bit.
Don’t start too quick, keep hydrated and check the weather beforehand to make sure you’ve got the right layers on.
Come and get a free massage after the race or head to the cool down zone to do some stretching – you’ll be grateful you did it the day after!
We’ve got lots of other info elsewhere on our website, on everything from when and how to stretch, to foam rolling technique and why we think massage is important.
Does the team at Fix see many runners at this time of year? What sort of things do people come in with?
We’re absolutely packed at the moment! We’ve just had lots of people running the London marathon, and of course Run Hackney too. We are also involved in an amazing duathlon series (www.capitaltri.com) so we get a lot of multi-event athletes coming to see us. We’re busy all through the summer with people with all different types of goals and all different types of issues!
People’s injuries are quite varied, from ankle pain due to over pronating to hip and low back issues from over-striding, with lots more in between! Sometimes people come in just for a tune up or for a running assessment or advice on their training. Some just to have a sports massage to help keep them in good shape. Prevention is often a better bet than cure, after all.
What's been your hardest physical challenge?
I completed a half ironman a few years ago. As a yogi and ex-dancer I'm naturally quite bendy so keeping my body together and integrated enough to complete the race was tough! I had to do a whole Winter season of strength training, coupled with swimming and indoor cycling to get strong and quick. This was followed by 5 months of progressive distances in all 3 disciplines. The hardest part was doing a whole shift of physio after a three hour morning training session. I sat down whilst treating quite a bit! But the race day was amazing, the swim was a PB, cycle relatively easy, even enjoyable and the run..? Well, that's better left in the past! I finished in just over 6 hours and enjoyed most of it but no doubt it was the hardest thing I've ever done...
Minimal or support shoe?
The foot’s ability to listen to the ground through the shoe they are wearing can really make a difference to running mechanics. Everyone has different feet and some do better with a bit more support and assistance. I am sure that there is a over diagnosis of over pronation (and in some cases completely incorrect!) Pronation is an essential part of the gait cycle so stopping it will have a detrimental effect of the rest of our, what should be, amazing mechanically-efficient body. I am, therefore, a firm believer in challenging the foot to support the body itself, even if it takes a while to wean off more supportive shoes.
Marathon or Sprint?
Whichever you enjoy! Running is all about feeling good, so try both!