About Ray Orchison
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
I am a passionate coach, therapist and runner. Nothing brings me greater joy than to work with individuals and to see them excel and achieve beyond levels they ever dreamed possible.
I want my clients to be injury free and to be in a physical state to perform at their best in their chosen sport.
I want my athlete’s to become more and more passionate for running and to have longevity in this beautiful sport.
- NKT Level 2
- Be Activated Practitioner
- Dry Needling
- HLT52015 Diploma of Remedial Massage
- IAAF Level 5 Academy Coach (IAAF Academy Diploma)
- IAAF Level 4 Senior Coach – Endurance – Middle Distance and Distance
- IAAF Level 4 Senior Coach – Sprints, Hurdles & Relays
- IAAF Nestlé Healthy Active Kids’ Athletics Upskilling Course
- Certified NAASFP Marathon Coach (North America, 2 year certification)
My Running PB's
- 10km – 33:55 | 21km – 1:14:17 | 32km – 2:05:00 | 42km – 2:48:00 | 56km – 4:09:00
- Comrades Up – 7h08
- Comrades Down – 7h14
- 1st in Bunbury 50k 2019
- 2nd in Mont aux Sources 50km Trail Run 2014
- 1st in 6 day 250km Wild Coast Ultra 2013
3rd in 2 day 100km Hobbit Trail Run 2013
- 1st in 3 day Umgeni River Trail Fest 2012
My Journey to Passion
At high school I took part in the 1500m and 3000m events but what I really enjoyed was running longer and further. I loved the 10km, 15km and 21km road races. At age 16 I ran my first 32km race, the RAC Tough One, a tough course run on the roads of Randburg in South Africa with endless long climbs through the hilly suburbs.
From as far back as I can remember all I ever wanted to do was run the Comrades Marathon, a 90km gruelling road race which takes place in South Africa each year in June. I remember counting down the days to my 18th birthday for no other reason but to finally be the legal age to enter and run Comrades. After being told (and rightly so) by numerous “older” top athletes like Johnny Halberstadt to wait and put off running this distance for as long as possible, I took the advice and put off the inevitable for as long as I possibly could, but eventually gave in to the yearning within me and decided to run my first Comrades marathon at age 23 ,come hell or high water.
Throughout my early running career in high school I was plagued with injuries, in particular, “runner’s knee”, and nothing seemed to fix it. Following the advice of my therapist I would lay off raining for a few weeks and of course the knee would feel better. But once I started up again, and just as my fitness was starting to return, I would get this painful, ceasing sensation in the knee. I was put into entry-level anti-pronation shoes and when that didn’t work, the heaviest anti-pronation shoes you could find, and when that didn’t work, the heaviest anti-pronation shoes with a heavy orthotic. This “solution” helped for a couple of months before the pain returned. As a result of this relentless injury my training volume from 1st January 2000 to 16th June 2000 totalled a meagre 400 km’s, when it should have been closer to a minimum of 1200-1600 km’s for the same period. I’ve always being very stubborn and so despite the shee lack of training I pushed through and ran anyway. Of course this meant running a very long and very painful Comrades, camping for the last 60 km’s, in a time of 10h30. I was stiff for an entire month following that race.
That was the end of my running career, or at least I thought so at the time. There seemed to be nothing more I could do to fix the knee and I called it a day and took up golf. But golf was no match for the love I had for running, there was no substitute. It frustrated me to drive past and see runners as they went about what seemed to come so naturally and so easy to them, injury free. I missed, no, I longed to run.
7 years later I met a Biokineticist. At first I was reluctant to see him, what if there was nothing he could do? What if I had my dad’s knees and my knee was shot? I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to have them shattered. But, I had nothing to lose and so I paid him a visit. He took a look at my knee and over a 6 to 8 week period worked with me to get my body corrected. In October of that year I got back on to the road and started running again. This time without the anti-pronation shoes and without the orthotics.
I ran my second Comrades in 2008 struggling through the typical “too much, too soon” injuries of ITB and the like, but still managed a finish in a time of 9h33 and loved it. I have since run 8 Comrades marathons with my fastest in a time of 7h08. I do still have goals and plans to run it much faster.
Running was and remains one of the most rewarding undertakings of my life. It has taught me invaluable lessons and driven me to push myself in search of a better me in all areas of my life.
I did not realise it at the time, but I started coaching indirectly when I started running as a young teenager. I did not have easy access to a coach, but if I’m honest, I had in my mind a clear picture of what I wanted to do and I did not want a coach to dissuade me. Of course what I wanted to do was run Comrades when I turned 18 😊. So I read books in order to devise training programs for myself.
Looking back, I realise the mistakes I made and understand what training should have looked like versus what I was doing. But, these misguided errors on my part have too given me great insight into guiding and working with young aspiring athletes who want to jump into long races too soon.
The catalyst to me embarking on the journey of coaching came about when I was approached by a friend who wanted me to coach him to running a faster ultra. I did not consider myself a coach but hesitantly agreed. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I wanted to work with athletes. Over the years my passion has become more than just working with athletes, it has grown into a desire to help others become better versions of themselves, whether on the road or on the treatment table.
So, on accepting my mate’s proposal to coach him, I had made the decision to start the journey of becoming a coach, but there was one non-negotiable for me, education. I had seen way too many “coaches” who called themselves coaches simply because they were or felt they were good runners, these coaches approached things with a “no pain, no gain” and a “this is what I did and it worked for me, so it must work for you too” mentality and I did not want to coach in that way.
I wanted the knowledge, the understanding of the body and physiology in order to be to give each individual athlete what he/she needed and at the right time. I wanted to be able to bring out the best in each athlete without unnecessary risk to injury. For me to do that I knew that I needed education. I needed to know how to coach, how to plan a schedule, how to put together a week and to know exactly why a particular session was needed over another, I needed to learn more about the body and the science of the body.
It was this desire that let me to begin my coaching education journey. I completed a well-rounded, two-year coaching certification through the NAASFP (North American Academy for Sport Fitness Professionals), this built an incredible foundation for me.
From there I went on to complete the USA Track & Field Level 1, 2 and 3 Distance and Sprints certifications in the USA which culminated in the highest coaching level awarded by the IAAF, the IAAF Level 5 Coaching diploma.
My coaching journey brought in a whole new element and brought me back a full circle, only this time, instead of suffering with injuries, I’d be providing physical treatment to others and helping others discover and deal with the causes of their injuries and compensation patterns.
My love for running has led to an awe of the human body and over the years I have continued to study and learn as much as I can in the area of injury causing patterns and compensations. I am a qualified Remedial Massage therapist with an ever growing toolbox consisting of NKT® (Neurokinetic Therapy), Be Activated (Muscle Activation), Myofascial Cupping, Lynotherapy (fascia release) and Dry Needling.
I am continually amazed at how little we know about the human body as humans and how our own bodies continue to amaze, heel and respond when the body is given what it needs. What does the body need? The body is designed to survive, that is the body’s priority, so what it needs is to have its survival priority met.
My journey of passion and living each day with a purpose has been amazing. I have learnt and continue to learn more than I could have imagined. The irony, and it sounds like a cliché but could not be truer, is that the more I learn and discovery the more I realise how little I know and how much more there is to lean. There is most certainly no limit and no end to learning.
I get to work with the human body both on the treatment table and through planned training and I get to experience and see people’s lives changing for the better. What a privilege!!