The krazy life of triathlon


Knees – passive, reactive, proactive

Well it is the weekend, I can’t train, there’s nothing good on tv for a while so what better way to spend it than update my blog!

My knees seem to be a recurring theme, no matter what I do, and have plagued my training ever since I started training in a serious way 5 years ago as a rower! Genetically I’m screwed, it’s an old family problem, but despite this and all the signs I get from my body, I’m going to pummel it into submission until it accepts the fact that it is going to have to put up with this for a while!
Anyway, my knees… well rather unlike me, my recovery from this injury has been rather slow, even compared to my fracture! It has been nearly 2 weeks since IMUK, and it still has major problems. Though to be fair, it was swollen up massively, and in all the knee injuries I’ve had, I’ve never had swelling. It doesn’t bend very well due to the suspected torn tendon in the back of my knee, but this is slowly healing, mainly helped by a decent massage from Ambulant Physios in Preston. The massage therapist really knew her stuff, and forced my leg to bend, really loosening it up and has doubled my comfortable ROM. The other way, straightening it, is not going well. I still cannot fully straighten it, and despite all the swelling going down, it is showing no signs of improvement, and feels like there is something blocking it under the knee cap, which is starting to make me worry now, and I am really hoping it doesn’t need surgery. I’ve got an MRI on Monday to see if they can find out what is actually wrong with my knee, and will know the extent of the damage by then.
So instead of sitting on my arse, waiting for it t heal, I have decided to do something about it. Funnily enough, I have found I am not a 9-5 guy, and do not enjoy sitting behind a desk all day, as much fun as the work is. However, it is what pays for my triathlon adventures, so I don’t have a choice. I just wish I had an extended lunch break to get a good swim/ride/run in…and then a meal…and then a nap… So I am trying to help my recovery along, forced in part by the fitness testing I am supposed to be having next week at the University of Chester for a Sports Science study, the Manchester 100 which I want to do, and St Anne’s Triathlon (in Fleetwood!) which I have promoted around the office, and now everyone is expecting me to storm! More importantly, I am now desperate to get training again. So I will hopefully get on the turbo tomorrow to see how my knee holds up, and then back in the pool with a pool bouy on Sunday. I will also start my strengthening exercises on my knee to kickstart the recovery and try and avoid a repeat. When I was doing them and in full training I had no problems from my knee, even clocking up 20 hours weeks with 250k on the bike and 70k running! The reason for the problems was my crash, which meant I stopped doing my exercises and stopped training, so all the strength my knees had built up was lost, and my stamina faded and then I did an Ironman! Should have seen it coming really….
Anyway, as soon as I have my results from my scan I will know what to do to fix it. More than likely, it will include more physio and ultrasound, but I am hoping to be back training in a couple of weeks, ramping up for a good solid winter, assuming no surgery is required! Once I am back, I will continue to do my exercises to keep my knee strong, and assuming no more potholes I should have a good solid base of training come next year!
Given the chance to go back to my Ironman to the point where my knee went, I’d do it all over again though. I said from the start giving up was not an option, and I meant it! Hopefully next time I won’t have busted knees and broken collar bones to overcome!
Speaking of next time, I am entered into IM Switzerland 2010 for the 1st August! I got paid today and took the plunge. Wow the exchange rate is poor! Cost me an extra 70 quid than it would have done this time last year I reckon! As mentioned before I have the Manchester 100 and Fleetwood Tri lined up, depending on my knee and then it’s time to muscle down for the winter. Next year I have got IM Lazarote penciled in, assuming there are still places left when my Student Loan comes through and I can afford it (it’s for ‘educational’ purposes, honest!). This is probably the 2nd toughest IM there is, second only to Hawii, with a killer combination of wind, heat and hills and it will be a real test of how my winter went, and how I perform in the heat, which will be a good indicator of how I would perform in Hawii (which is on my long-term goals, before I leave my age group). I would also like to get an early marathon in, sometime around march, early april as a standalone. Other races I have in view are Weymouth Middle Distance (unfinished business), Oswestry Sprint (home town and a final bit of speed work before Switzerland) and preferably another middle at some point.
I am currently in the process of using up all the free time I have from not training putting together my training plan for next year, using Joe Friel’s Training Bible, which although taking a VERY long time, is very concise and will give me a very good training plan for next year. I just need to know my race calendar and knee implications! Once I have done this, I plan to get what every self-respecting athlete has… his/her own website! Seen as I am spending my life at work redoing the department website, I thought I would put my own together! This will include my usual blog, and also race diary, results, pictures, other info and I will try and get my training plans up, which as I will be doing it on my laptop, means lots of graphs to look at and compare!
Another thing that I am looking at implementing in the coming months is a new diet. Now I am not one for diets, fads, silly lose 20kg in a day eating cucumber smoothies all day type of diets. To me, it is simple science, Don’t eat junk, and more calories burnt than calories in and you WILL lose weight, just do some exercise and have the willpower not to reach for the biscuits. But there is diet called the Paleo Diet that has been gathering momentum for a few years now, and especially amongst athletes. It is based on the assumption that we have evolved over the last 250,000 years to be suited to what was around, and then all of a sudden we discover agriculture and started piling processed carbs into us. Basically it involves lot of fruit (yey!), vegetables (ah), salad (hmm), good lean meat and fish and that’s about it. You get all the carbs you need from the fruit and veg and other things like nuts that were readily available to cavemen and the results seem astounding. Obviously the rules have to be bent for athletes before, during, and after exercise to get the carbs in for the exercise. From what I can work out from it, you have the carbs to fuel your exercise, lots of protein to help muscle repair and then so much fruit and veg to have enough calories, you have ridiculous amounts of vitamins and minerals you feel great! This is going to present a problem, however, in that I don’t like vegetables, and have far too a great a liking for milk, yoghurts, cereal, pasta, biscuits, sweets and chocolate. However, I am prepared to stick it out for a month, and if it is a good as I have heard, well, looks like I am going to have to make the most of junk food during exercise!