In At The Deep End
Giving up on one sporting dream was no deterrent for Christine Bertram, who overcame physical injury and mental challenges to raise her game and set new goals.
Today 38-year-old Christine is a successful triathlete and is the current European Sprint Triathlon Champion for 2012 in the 35-39 age group, with an ambition to be a World Class Triathlete.
A scholarship middle distance runner during her undergraduate studies in the States, Christine relocated to the UK from her native Germany to complete a PhD at Stirling University where she started training for duathlons. However a serious heel condition in which a massive spur threatened to rip the plantar tendon forced her to abandon her dream of a place in the Duathlon World Championships later that year.
Bouncing back from injury:
A 5-month rest period from running led to taking up swimming and cycling, with a natural progression into triathlons. When she was eventually able to run again Christine set herself the challenge of competing in a triathlon, although initially her major ambition was to complete a 5K race without pain.
The mental and physical challenges:
Her greatest physical challenge has been overcoming her fear of open water (she acknowledges that it’s difficult to find pool-based triathlons) and an outstanding achievement was her completion of the Escape from Alcatraz, which involved swimming across San Francisco Bay in the notoriously difficult and very cold waters of the Bay.
On dealing with the challenges which triathlon competition poses, Christine says:
“With three events and the transitions to contend with, there is lots of potential for things to go wrong. To have a race where every single thing is perfect is rare and as an athlete you know when it has not been ace. I do look ahead to the next part of the race. Hold it together, put a check on it and focus on the next part. It's important not to dwell on the things that didn't go well because it affects how you think about the rest of the race.
“When I hit a really rough patch most of the time a cheesy song pops in my head at random that brings a smile to my face. Focussing on form and relaxing rather than pushing also work a treat to climb out of that dark patch”.
As someone who knows the devastating consequences of injury, Christine is careful to use natural products as part of her training regime to warm up or cool down her muscles. “I love the Natural Hero products to help with my preparation and recovery. The Hot Ginger Muscle Rub is a personal favourite as it works wonders in the chilly weather to gently warm your muscles and works a treat for recovery, to relax my glutes and hip flexors when they tighten up. The Cool Peppermint Spritz has been great in hot conditions and after tough sessions. It is extremely refreshing on tired legs and the peppermint oil provides a great mental lift as well.”
Although Christine refers to herself as ‘an older person’, (she feels 26 she says, yet celebrated her 38th birthday in November) her courage and determination prove that age is no bar to achieving her dream of becoming a world class triathlete.