Practising What She Preaches

Don McClure
November 30, 2003
By Don McClure
Tara Norton, a Registered Massage Therapist with a thriving home-based practice located in downtown Toronto, is also a highly accomplished triathlete, now ranked #41 in the world after the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii last month.

Though very pleased with her results so far, it is not in Tara’s nature to be satisfied with her accomplishments to date.

photos By Richard Cadman
With plans to further improve her standing in the Ironman (a race that consists of a four-kilometre swim,
followed by a 180 kilometre bike, and a full 42-kilometre marathon), Tara incorporates a full regimen of body work into her demanding clinic, training, and racing schedule to help ensure she remains injury free.

Maintaining musculo-skeletal health is key to healthy living whether you are a world-class athlete or not. Tara sees six clients per day, four days per week. Add to that another 12 hours for scheduling, sheet washing, clinic preparation time, filling in patient files and bookkeeping, and you have a fairly full work schedule at a grand total of 36 hours.

Now, add in a training schedule prescribed by her coach that consists of a solid 25 hours of swimming,
biking, running, circuit training, and yoga every week, and you can see that maintaining tissue health is an ongoing project for Tara. This is why Tara works weekly Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and Active Release Therapy (ART) treatments at The Fitness Institute into her already busy schedule. 

“In the same way that I promote regular treatments with my own clients, I am strict about getting my own bodywork done too, though it is possible that I step it up a notch,” said Tara, in a recent interview.

“I have been plagued by leg injuries in the past, but this year, by being diligent with my own therapy, and despite being my most intense year for training and racing to date, this was a year marked by a lack of major injuries and a year in which I have achieved my best results.”

“Understanding my own clients’ needs is an important part of being able to determine what sort of
treatment to provide them,” said Tara, who will talk passionately about her practice, if given the
slightest opportunity.

photos By Richard Cadman
“It is very rewarding to see a client’s life change so positively,” she says, when referring to a client who had suffered chronic and debilitating headaches for years prior to seeing Tara for massage therapy treatments. “It makes me feel good about what I do – I feel a real
sense of accomplishment.”

This understanding is something Tara says all her practitioners have of her triathlon goals and her treatment requirements.

“Massage Therapy and ART really work for me and have kept me healthy,” Tara says.

Though not a registered ART practitioner herself, Tara plans to become certified in ART in the future. In addition to helping her in Hawaii, these treatments contributed to Tara’s strong season.

Tara was the 14th woman to cross the finish line at the Ironman USA race in Lake Placid, New York that took place during the summer, and was a race winner at the long course triathlon in Muskoka, a sprint triathlon in Lakeside, as well as a sprint duathlon in Hamilton. Also, Tara qualified for the amateur Canadian National Triathlon team with her 3rd place podium finish at the World Cup race in Edmonton. As a result, Tara will be representing Canada at the Olympic-distance Triathlon World Championships in New Zealand on December 6, 2003.
Tara has plans to become a professional triathlete shortly and, if she continues to practice what she preaches, her accomplishments should continue to grow – both professionally and athletically.

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