At the end of the 2016 season I was giving strong consideration to 2017 being the year that I take on the Ironman. I was confident that I could finish but I wanted to be able to do more than just finish. Kona is not going to happen for me, almost definitely. But a more realistic goal is possible. With that in mind, and searching for what that goal should be, I started up my training again in mid-October. Here’s what happened.
This should look pretty familiar (I think) to most that use Training Peaks. As I ramped up my training, the ATL (pink) increases, Form (yellow) decreases with fatigue, and Fitness (blue) increases. For the most part, this is pretty normal. Except for one thing. I basically picked up where I left off pre-Barrelman. I became Captain Too-Much-Too-Soon. It caught up with me in a pretty big way.
The ATL line takes a sharp drop around the middle of November. That’s due to the onset (read: I finally admitted to myself after weeks of knowing) of an injury. I had Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome which is also commonly known as Runner’s Knee. In my case, I’m nearly 100% positive it was initially triggered by a poor bike fit, which was triggered by some equipment changes (tip: changing pedals can screw up bike fit), which created imbalances and problems that were just stacked as I didn’t stop or slow my training.
Rather than go into detail on the injury, I’ll just say this: if knees hurt, stop. This injury got so bad that I couldn’t flip turn without considerable pain and I was still cycling on it because I’m dumb. Or blinded by my goals. “If you don’t do it, you’ll never do it” ran through my mind constantly at the time. I had basically convinced myself that it would go away and it was nothing. How wrong I was. From 22 November 2016, I did basically nothing until early January. I sought some physiotherapy in early December and after a few weeks of slow forward progress sought out a second opinion from a Chiropractor (coincidentally happens to be a rather talented duathlete and runner as well). His diagnosis method identified an entire muscle group that was under-developed that could have been the direct result of my poor bike fit. Rehab time.
To make a long story short, I’m now back in full-on back-to-run mode. I’ve been running again for about 5 weeks under Chiro’s direction with generally pretty outstanding results. Still, I’m not going fast, and my longest run has only been 45 minutes at a very slow pace (even for me slow pace). However, yesterday he cleared me to continue ramping things up. I’m going to stick strongly to the 10% rule this time around, and hopefully I’ll be long-running again in no time. I had a proper bike fit done by a physiotherapist that specializes in this kind of thing (and also happens to be an accomplished triathlete and triathlon coach in his own right), so my cycling is coming back in great form as my muscles and connective tissues get used to working again.
Big takeaways through this though. Not all bad I suppose.
1. Relax. Training is fun. Pain is not fun.
2. Ignoring my body’s needs pushes goals farther away, no matter how much I want it.
3. A strong support system is a requirement.
4. 10% rule. 10% rule. 10% rule.
The return to structured training begins soon. Unstructured stuff has been great for the last several weeks – swimming fitness is strong, cycling is coming back very fast, and running is coming slower but coming. Time to get into some real base training though.
Pitter Patter! Off to the pool!