This week has been the most frustrating, challenging and tough week since I started this journey. I have really hit a new low in terms of motivation to train, I just don’t want to. While I am very grateful to still be alive having nearly killed myself, I am fed up and pissed off with my shoulder, and now shape. I am out of shape, unfit, overweight and lacking motivation. Not a good place with 6 weeks to go. I am fed up with training on the turbo and indoors; all I want to do is to be able to go for a run, plod up and down a pool or just go climbing in snowdonia on my bike. It is incredibly frustrating. With no training plan to follow, I have let my training slip, so I allow things to get in the way of training rather than making way for my training and fitting my life around it. I need to find a balance.
In terms of my injury however, things are great. I have now got full movement in my shoulder back, not bad for 3 weeks! It is still weak, and the bone hasn’t quite finished healing yet, but my neck and trapeze muscle hurt more than my fracture, which I think is them getting used to the new position and being used after a while of inactivity. If you looked at me now, you wouldn’t be able to tell I had a fracture in my shoulder, I can just about do everything with my shoulder/arm again, even managed to sleep on it last night. So I am very pleased with this. Also, whilst on the turbo at the weekend, I was able to support my entire body weight with my arm, so as soon as I get my helmet replaced (on my long list of things to do!) and bike back I am going back out on the road. Carefully at first to test it, then will try some proper climbing. I managed to throw my upper body round out of the saddle on the turbo with no pain, but it can never replicated real climbing so we will have to see. I may try running properly this week, and if I can I can slowly start building that up.
One of my many tasks this week (along with finding a house to live in for next week!) is to write myself a training plan. As soon as I have that, I can know what training I have, and make time for it. If time permits, I will be back in the pool next week, (the week I start work, so could be interesting) and then hopefully will be back out on the road. I have a lot of catching up to do. With 6 weeks left, and not too much fitness lost, I should be able to get myself into a reasonable shape. I need to quickly ramp up my long rides, to fit a few 180k rides in before my taper. My running I would like to be running half marathons again in a couple of weeks, depending on my foot and knees. If I can do that, I am in good stead for the marathon. The only problem is the swimming. I have lost a lot of strength in my shoulder, and probably all endurance. So I will have 5 weeks to build up and taper to a 4k race effectively. Luckily swimming only requires a small taper, so I can build right up to race week, hopefully fitting in some OW practise.
6 weeks to go, and hopefully this is my lowest point. The only way is up! And for all those wondering if I am still doing this, and why after my crash. Of course I am still doing this. I am far too stubborn to give up and not let myself do it, despite the fracture and crash. My confidence may be dented when I get back in the hills, but it will come back. And the main reason? I have dedicated the last 6 months of my life to this, there is no way I can stop. I need this, to show that the last 6 months, the changes, the sacrifices and everything have all been worth it. And most importantly, I need this for myself, to prove to myself that I can do it, and that it won’t break me. This will be the hardest thing I will have ever done, but I intend to grab it by both horns and wrestle it all the way to the finish line, no matter how hard, how painful, how long, how difficult it is.
Bring it on.
Looking back to where I was a week ago, both me and my doctors are a bit shocked really. To put it into context, for someone my age, I should be looking at immobilisation for 3-4 weeks, then regaining movement for a couple of weeks at around 5-6 weeks, and then another 4 weeks for full strength to return, possibly a bit less. Now whether it has been, the way the fracture was with the two ends touching, diet, all the sleep I have had, fitness, genetics, or more likely a combination of all of them, I had the first bits of movement back in just over a week. By the time I went to see the doctor after a week and a half, I had a fair amount of movement back, and he thought from my injuries that the accident was 3 weeks ago! Now at the end of the week, I have full movement backwards, well above horizontal sideways, and approaching horizontal forwards, all unaided. With a bit of force/help from my good arm I can get close to full movement back in my shoulder. Things are looking very good. By the end of this next week I should have full movement back in my arm. I am already out of my sling, and noticing things getting easier each day, such as reaching for the tap in the sink, or washing my face. Things that were impossible at the start of the week I can now do pain free. This puts my recovery well ahead of schedule, and I might actually get some training in before my Ironman! With the rate I am going, I will be back on my bike in another 2 weeks, and possibly running just before. I could be on my bike by the end of the week, but for once in my sporting career, I am going to be cautious and make sure the bone has fully healed, because if I fall on it again and it is not healed I will miss my Ironman. This week I can begin some intensive physio on my shoulder, to build up my strength again and get the rest of my flexibility back. Due to the crash, my collar bone has basically been pushed out of my shoulder in a ‘V’ shape, so I have lost about an inch from my collarbone, making my shoulder shorter and meaning everything has moved around. This shouldn’t cause me any problems in the long run, however it means I have to get my muscles used to their new positions, and new ways of working, and effectively I have to relearn how to use my shoulder again. It is the weirdest feeling in the world trying to lift my arm. It doesn’t hurt, I know how to do it, I remember how to do it, I just physically can’t do it. I tell my muscles to lift my arm up, but they just don’t know how. It could make swimming interesting… However, all in all, I am very pleased with the way my recovery is going.
My training on the other hand has been crap! I have only done a few session this week due to a combination of terrible rural buses and no car, glass mending men, moving house and now a lack of a turbo for the week. However, this week, with buses and lots of time, I shall be hitting the gym hard, on the bike, cross trainer, weights and flexibility stuff. I should get a good few weeks of solid training before my taper begins, and then it’s the big day, only 7 weeks away! Cannot wait! With my crash, finishing my ironman is going to be even sweeter!
It has been an odd week. Admittedly the first few days were quite nice not having to train for the first time in 5 months, but then the frustration begins. By now I should have completed my first half ironman, I should be beginning the build up to my ironman and be training harder than ever, but I can’t. I have given everything for this and centered my entire life around it, making sacrifices in all aspects of my life and putting everything into doing it, all to have it taken away by a small pothole and an accident. I could spend hours thinking about the what ifs, but it happened so I just need to deal with it.
But looking back now that I have recovered from the shock, I have come to realise how lucky I am. Yes it was unlucky to have had the accident, but it could have been so much worse. If I had gone over the top of my handlebars I would have broken my neck or back without a shadow of a doubt, and at that speed the odds of me surviving that would not be good. How I didn’t break my hip when I landed on it, I have no idea, so I am very lucky to be alive. It certainly makes you think about things!
I went to see the doctor on thursday and asked about my Ironman, and he said that I will be fine to do it! Great news! To be honest, there was never even a consideration for not doing it, right from when I realised I had fractured my collarbone just after I crashed. Ever since I finished my exams, I have had a lot of free time, and everything is centered around healing up as quickly as possible. I am getting through disgraceful amounts of milk and sleeping around 4 times a day and it is paying off. The collar bone is now set and continuing to fuse abd make the join stronger, and I have got some movement back. If I take my sling off I can wander around the house and pretend nothing is wrong (as long as I don’t move my arm!). Not bad for a week! My road rash has just about cleared up, so all is looking good. I have already done a session on the turbo, so will have only missed 6 days of training for cycling, the majority of which was probably very good for me! In terms of recovery, it will be about another 3/4 weeks til I am out on the roads, and another couple of weeks before I am able to climb and wrench it around properly. Running and swimming will both be another 4 weeks or so, swimming maybe a bit more depending on how much movement I lose, though I plan to be back in the pool sooner, doing single arm work, on my good arm. I have less than 8 weeks now til the big day.
The one other thing the doctor said is that there is no way I will be fit enough to do an ironman… nothing like a challenge. There is no way I won’t finish it, even doing single arm for the entire swim. We wouldn’t want to make it too easy! But in all seriousness, it will make finishing it even sweeter and satisfying, coming back from a fractured collar bone in 9 weeks.
Finally I would like to say thank you to everyone for their support, all my friends and fellow triathletes for their well wishes during my recovery.