Category Archives: injury
It’s been good to finally get outside and even throw in the odd spring event recently. It’s been difficult to chase those cycling miles over the winter, so I’ve taken the opportunity to mix up the riding and also get the all important bike fit done before the race season rolls around.
I’ve had the mountain bike out quite a lot over winter and used this as a good alternative to the turbo trainer. The Mountain bike works you hard and has transferable skills for bike handling and is much more accessible in all weathers. Now it’s a bit more bearable to get out on the road bike and clock up some miles in the Peak District hills, it means I’ve not had to sacrifice too many weekends to the indoor turbo sessions. It’s great having North Wales and The Peak District on the relative doorstep of South Manchester.
The time spent not racing was a good chance to get the TT bike dialed in and set up for the season ahead. I had a great bike fit session at Paul Savage’s (www.Physio-Coach.co.uk), tweaking my position to get the best possible fit. With my main races being the British Middle Distance Championship at Bala and the European Long Distance Championship in Weymouth we reached a set up that isn’t too aggressive and means I can comfortably stay on the aero bars for long periods. It’s a thorough process and an important one to get right.
Getting the bike fit done before the season kicks in means I have plenty of time to get used to it and familiar with the set up as each Mountain bike, road bike and TT bike are all slightly different. I won’t have to touch this again now so everything is on point and ready to go racing.
My road bike is an old Specialized Allez Sport that I don’t mind running into the ground and is heavy. Once I switch to the TT bike (Cannondale Slice) it feels so slick and light and easy to go quick on. The training effect of the old tank-like Spesh is actually a great benefit when I swing a leg over the Slice. I don’t think I’d be allowed another bike even if I did want to upgrade, as when she reads this, I’ll have to admit that I never did actually sell the mountain bike!
Race Date: 23/02/14
Race Type: XC MTB
Performance: Very happy 8/10
I had done the Cannock Chase Winter Classic (organised by Go Run & Ride) the year before and when I saw it advertised again for 2014 I put my name down as I was itching to be entered for some races of some sort.
I hadn’t ridden the mountain bike for a while, so I went for a quick gentle spin around Clayton Vale just to blow the cobwebs out.
I got to Cannock an hour before the race time and managed to get a little section of the course in for a practice. I just wanted to warm up and check the gears, brakes and everything was all good.
I positioned myself near the front of the start line so I could avoid the bottle neck traffic in the first corner. From previous racing experience, everyone goes mental at the start, enough to just hold you up when it turns single track and then it can become something of a queue.
I managed to consolidate 3rd position from the first few turns and didn’t lose touch with the leading pair until I hit the deck in the wet rooted wooded section. I took a hit to the ribs at low speed and didn’t really think much of it. I got up and had to rip out some rogue long grass that had been caught around my rear gear cassette. This cost me a few seconds and a couple of positions that I managed to claw back on one of the longer climbs. I was happy about that as it’s usually my climbing that can let me down in these races. I have the ability to go quickly down hill and do better at the more technical parts of the course.
The 2014 route wasn’t that technical so there was less chance of me to make my usual gains. I think my riding skill comes mainly from the years spent motocross riding and being familiar with the bike being loose and comfortable with being uncomfortable. I tried to initiate a gap to 4th which pulled out enough for me relax and not have to take too many chances.
I held on for a solid 3rd position, despite me losing some ground towards the end of the race. I had accounted for that which is where the big middle effort came from. I timed it well and was really happy to get a podium and a few pints afterwards.
The only bad news about this race possible came 2 days after. I ran 12 miles on Monday, the day after the race and woke up Tuesday with a severely tight and sore right ITB. Looking back on my history and discussing it with my coach Paul Savage, it can be traced back to running after mountain bike causes ITB issues.
The position of a road bike, TT bike and mountain bike differ quite a lot. I was riding the MTB hard and really pushing it. Then to do a long run the day after may have initiated the problem.
I’ve since, ran and ridden the road bike as usual without any problems to further point the finger at the guilty MTB!
Race Date: 04/08/13
Race Type: Ironman
Performance: Ecstatic 10/10
My first Ironman experience could not have gone any better. It exceeded all my expectations. The whole race week felt like it lasted for ages and it wasn’t until the Tuesday after the race when I was on my own that I finally had chance to reflect on the event and let it all sink in.
I went round in 11:31:50 and was astonished to obliterate the originally planned 13 hour mark when I began this project. I simply stuck to the plan and enjoyed the experience. It all came together and I had beyond the perfect race, a rare feeling no doubt, so I’ve been savoring every moment. Even when I went out for dinner the Sunday evening after the race a chap in Manchester shouted across at me and could tell by my walk that I’d just done IMUK and offered his congrats.
The week leading up to the race came around very quickly and heightens every sense in your body. Random injuries occur, the bike just isn’t in perfect order and – as my Irish girlfriend would say – you become “minus craic”.
I was consciously trying to relax and forget about the weekend, but it consumes you so far in advance (when they take £400 off you at registration) before race week that this week actually feels kind of normal.
I tapered with a swim session and a 6 mile run and switched my eating attention to white bread, white pasta and cake. A premature indulgence to get the simple carbs & sugars on board two days out.
I had massage and a final chat with my physio and coach Paul Savage who answered a lot of stupid questions of mine and also loosened the legs up nicely.
Friday registration and bike racking went smoothly, but it is worth baring in mind the stress of all this. There is actually a lot of driving involved and a fair few nerves and excitement at each transition the day before. So, I turned to cricket. The Ashes were on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra Radio so I had that on in the car and as soon as I heard the stress and chat among the other competitors ‘The weather isn’t good for tomorrow’, ‘What tire pressures are you running? Do you have enough spare tubes?’. This was background noise I didn’t want to hear and mess with my head, so I simply put the headphones in and listened to more cricket as I racked and hung my bags. It’s compelling listening when England are smashing the Aussies and at the same time you are leaving your beloved bike in a field in Leigh for her first night away from home.
I felt quite relaxed on the morning of the race also. I got a lovely card from said Irish girlfriend which she told me not to read until I was getting out of the car at the start line. She stayed in bed naturally. It’s a strange feeling even when you say ‘goodbye’ knowing you’ll see them in a very different context later that day. Moody and irritant to sweaty and euphoric in a matter of hours.
Swim 1hour 07minutes:
There isn’t really much you can say about the swim? It wasn’t as brutal as I had anticipated, with not too many arms flaying and I tried to start as near to the front as I could. The water was warm, a reported 22C, and despite going slightly off track on the second lap after the Australian exit, I felt strong and in control, never panicking and pushing when I felt I had the energy and had the space to do so.
Bike: 6hour 02minutes:
I had been lucky enough to train on the course so I was familiar with the route. Sheep House Lane 3 times was always going to be tough, but I managed to hold a good pace and beat my predicted time by a good chunk. I later took into account my training rides had been on my aluminium Specialized Allez Sport road bike, with a 1.5l camebak on and I had been riding a hillier and longer route. I had hoped to complete in under 7hours, so be closer to the 6 hour mark I was more than happy.
I had one low point, when my hips began to strain and I was about 70miles into the ride. It was tough mentally to keep the mind on the game and away from the pain. I just told myself ‘it was meant to hurt’ as its an Ironman and to just ‘shut up moaning about things, it’s too late now’. I tried to think of every motocross track I had ever ridden on, in chronological order, to take my mind off the pain and put it somewhere where I associated with success and nostalgia.
Nutrition wise, I began with 2 bottles of Lucozade and once I had the first one out of the way I kept taking water bottles from each aid station and continued to sip on the second Lucozade.
I had 7 SiS Go Bars (65g), grazed on a bag of Jelly Babies and took a Salt Stick tablet every hour.
Run: 4hour 12minutes
I took a gel in T2, just sucking on it while I was getting into my running shoes. I was very relax through both transitions, just walking through and concentrated really hard on the order of things I had to do. I was very deliberate and didn’t waste any energy. I kept both transitions to 5 minutes and never rushed myself to a panic.
3 miles in to the run I wrote off any ideas I had about a 4hour marathon. I had gotten off the bike thinking I could now go around sub-12 hours and just hold it together on the run. Then from nowhere my running legs appeared! I settled into a good pace and made sure I took on fuel – water, coke and a gel at each and every aid station & Bananas every other station.
I identified two places on the course that I could target, breaking the run up. The town centre where my family were and also back out at the beginning of the loop where the lap bands are handed out. Two places to aim for where I could gain either encouragement from some familiar faces or tick off another checkpoint passed with an arm band. I broke the race down into 4 x 10ks and having not been over 12 miles in training, I was heading into the unknown from thereon.
Coming down the chute and on to the red carpet was a great feeling and one I shall never forget. The legs just never gave up on me and I managed to hold out for a time that I am immensely proud of. I surpassed all my training PB’s in the swim, rode over 100 miles for the first time ever and also ran my first half marathon and full marathon!
See all my pics from IMUK here
Firstly I bought this book on a whim, as a last resort almost, clutching at straws. I had become more and more disillusioned with my absence from running I thought I may as well read about it while I’m taking an extended break. Chi Running is quite an old book, first published in 2004, so I’m not stumbling on something too ground-breaking here. It has genuinely helped I think. There are a lot of principles we can take from Chi and put into our running, perhaps the book goes into slightly too much detail for the majority of us, but I felt I gained a few lessons in just to reset myself back to running.
Returning from an 8 week absence was always going to be a slow job for me, slowly building back up the miles was something I was happy to do and now I would spend those early short miles working on a new technique. More lean, better posture and hopefully all as a means to run injury free.
I feel I am not yet back to 100% with my ITB, but it has become manageable. Cold mornings, prolonged sitting and walking in shoes always makes me aware there is a historical problem down there, just to the left a little.
220 Triathlon featured Chi Running in a recent edition when looking at other running forms.
Download and have a read here, or buy the book – it was only a fiver.
I’ve just completed a block of 4 x 6 mile runs and have come through relatively unscaved. This technique does need work though, and won’t be achieved in your first session. I also punctuated this technique change with a new pair of running shoes. I went back to Nike – they came with a free placebo affect!
I’ve been absent from the blog. I did a Duathlon on March 17th and picked up an injury which has been pretty hard to take. It’s a recurrence of my ITB injury and caught me by surprise to say the least. I had got up 8 miles in my return to running and was hitting some nice times with my negative splits and feeling strong as I built the distance back up. Then BANG – as I reached the final 2k of the second running leg of the Duathlon I felt it build and then come on strong. My leg was locked straight, just too painful to flex.
I have scratched around for some kind of reason as to why and how this occurred, 5 days after hitting a solid 8 mile run.
– It was a cold day
– The race organiser was running late and therefore rushed through the race briefing and left little time for a warm up or to organise kit
– I had a little flu bug a couple of days leading up to the race, leaving me on the couch rather than training.
– I ran harder than usual
– The course was undulating
Whatever the cause, it left me fairly depressed and feeling rather sorry for myself. The road to recovery has been long and precise, so to have been put back to square 1 was massively demoralising.
It took the wind out of my sails in a big way. I didn’t do any training for nearly a week afterwards and even then it was just steady swimming. I’d lost a lot of pool fitness just by taking this time out, I was struggling to walk and putting any weight on the knee was painful. It disturbed my sleep and it made me a general displeasure to be around.
I needed to snap out of it. Positive thinking will hopeful bare a quicker return, so I’ve heard. I had acupuncture treatment on the knee and also upgraded my foam roller to a rumble roller. This thing is agony, in a good way! Voltorol gel, a strict routine of stretching and yoga are all helping me train my mind into not wasting a day feeling sorry for myself but realise a comeback to full fitness is against the clock. I grew a beard too.
Much like The Playoff Beard for my American friends. But I said I wouldn’t shave until I can run a pain free 2 miles! Not a lot granted, but the look, feel and taste of this beard reminds me that I need to foam roller and do all of my rehab stretching and exercises to get myself fit again. They help my knee and now also help get closer to that close shave.
Call it clutching at straws, but I’m also reading this book ‘Chi Running’. I’ll let you know how it works out, but the basic principles and mechanics behind the running style does ring true for my symptoms and possible fixes.
When you set out your ‘A race’ of the season you tend to work backwards. So I hear anyway – I’ve never had an ‘A race’ – but in the case of IMUK 2013 I do. 4th August 2013 to be exact and this is now exactly 20 weeks away.
I have spent the winter really working hard on my base fitness, just getting time in the pool, miles in the saddle and a gradual return to running and upping the mileage on the knees. However, the last 5 week training plan has become slightly more tailored to refining that base fitness and working towards making me more triathlon specific fit. Mapping the progress has been half the fun. I’ve logged it all in my Training Log, but below I’ll try and go into a bit more detail of what each of these session has consisted of.
First of all, my week has had to some consistency. I like routine and to know what days I am doing what. It means I can balance my life outside of training and I also associate my days with my training. This is how my week has looked for the last 5 weeks, and I’ve have not missed a single session. My coach Paul is fantastic at putting together realistic plans that work for my ability, my work and also to keep her happy!
Monday – Run
Tuesday – Endurance Swim
Wednesday – Turbo Interval Session
Thursday – Run
Friday – Speed Swim & Turbo Build Session
Saturday – Long Ride
Sunday – REST
This all adds up to around 10 hours per week of training.
My endurance session on Tuesdays are tough. I work my butt off in 400m drills, which originally clocked in at 7min 40sec per 400m. By the 5th week of this plan, I was hitting these same 400m sets in 7min 10sec.
My speed work on a Friday varies between 50m, 100m and 200m drill sets. Again these have shown big increases in improvement and beast you all the same over 2, 500m. The marriage of these two swim sessions is obviously working if I am improving by 30 seconds in the space of 5 weeks. When I did my first sprint triathlon in August 2011, I swam the 400m leg in 9min 12sec, then again in 2012 in 8min 37sec. In less that a year I have taken a massive chunk of time off my short distance swimming.
I put a lot of focus on my bike session as that is where I will be spending most of my day in early August! IMUK is one of the hilliest bike routes on the Ironman Calendar, and arguably the most difficult in Europe, so I need to give this leg the respect it deserves. My long rides at the weekend are an over hilly 4 hour trip from Manchester to Derbyshire covering 60 miles. This is essentially just bike time. In the recent temperatures and winds across those hills, there is no room for heroes so It’s just hardening the ass for more of the same and also a good chance to test nutrition.
My turbo session are where the real hard graft can pay dividends. I work of various interval sessions over a 90min period – 10min, 5min, 2min & 1min respectively, each within a specific range of perceived effort on the Borg Scale. Aside from the training benefits of the turbo sessions, its a good chance to tinker with your bike fit, rehearse transition and catch up on Paris-Nice! Physio-Coach Paul Savage has recently uploaded a video on his website of how to get the best from your turbo session.
My return to running has been a real confidence booster. Having worked back up literally from scratch to be now running distances that are more familiar to me is a great relief. My Monday runs involve negative splits, usually around 3 x 8min mile and then 3 x 7min mile. On Thursday I’ll do a slightly longer run, trying to stay around 7min 30sec per mile. Before and after each run I have an inbuilt habit of foam rolling and yoga stretching to keep the injury wolves from the door. There is no getting away from it, I have to do it. It’s part of the running and cycling days whereby a good 15 minutes spent on the roller is no hardship, followed by a series of specific stretches and planks to keep a happy & hard core!
That’s just the last 5 weeks. As we hit the 20 week countdown, I’ll be incorporating more brick sessions and some really specific turbo session to really hammer those legs! That will cover the next 4 weeks.