Monday, July 27, 2015

The injured athlete - take it from me..........

Year after year, season after season, I have been defined, destroyed and strengthened by 2 x cranky Iliotibial Bands (itb).  

I remember the very first time it reared its ugly head. It was 2010. I had signed up for Ironman Port Macquarie and the body couldn't handle the load. My Coach had perhaps not truly understood my poor level of fitness and no base. Or more accurately, perhaps it was me that absolutely had no idea what I had signed up for and didn't understand enough about base and the onion layers required to get the Ironman job done properly. I ran my marathon. But prior to race day, I hit wall after wall of ITB issues.

I was devastated. I felt embarrassed, anxious, stressed and uncomfortable and simply put, my life just sucked. I would turn up to run group and walk round the oval following the runners. Some weeks I could manage a short run. We ended up doing all bike work and elliptical and then I just turned up and ran on race day. Not your best planned lead up to an Ironman.

Every morning I would wake up wondering if I could run pain free. I went to bed hoping that tomorrow I would be in less pain. I wished for the day that I could run without pain. Yep that was many years ago.
I was no fun to be around and my husband was still riding and running and I was envious of his freedom to use is body however he wanted. I was jealous that my 'larger' friends could run. I still hate watching the lady running every morning pushing a double sized running pram with two kids jammed into it. How does she do it day after day? I didn't want to be around anyone who was an athlete and I cried a lot.

I did everything I could to fix the problem. I stopped almost all training to "rest" my knees, saw massage therapists, constantly stretched and rolled, got a few cortisone injections, googled, searched Slowtwitch for answers. I was desperate and I didn't know any better but to try to quickly fix myself as soon as possible. 
After so many years of dealing with itb issues, often times not running for up to 3 months year after year, I've learned a lot about myself. When you are a chronically injured athlete (despite doing everything that you are told to do to keep yourself healthy and to overcome the injury), you hit some very low moments. Looking back, I have had many scenarios where I have had to make tough decisions. As an athlete, some of my hardest decisions to make were not which races to register for in a season but instead, how to approach the season when an injury arises. I have not made it to t he start line for so many races, not completed, or not entered races.

Every athlete handles an injury differently and sadly, injuries are bound to happen. The human body is not as resilient as we think/want it to be. I get it! Regardless of the physical pain, it's really the mental and emotional pain that is the most difficult part of being injured. Not only do you experience a loss of your sport but there is a dramatic change in your lifestyle. Workouts are removed, there is more time spent at doctor appointments and physical therapy treatments and there can be many days when it feels like the day is just a waste without a workout, just like old times. 

When you are the athlete who is injured, it is hard to think long term. It's hard to make good decisions that will benefit the future rather than what feels "right" at the moment.  Every effort is focused on quick healing and patience is an extremely hard trait if a race is on the horizon. For coaches, loved ones and friend's of an injured athlete, it is really difficult to say the right thing. As an athlete, you see that time is running out before a key race but the injury is just taking longer than anticipated to heal and that can be extremely frustrating.

Not racing or not completing the entire race is certainly one of the toughest decisions I have had to make. And I have had to make the decision time and again. It Sux! Dealing with it comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Acceptance, denial, frustration. Certainly a hard working athlete should be hard working in the rehab process? Right? But it's not easy to be all smiles and rainbows when you can no longer do what you love to do. 

So what's the advice I give myself having a 70.3 race in November? 

Don't let this injury define me. No one is taking away my athlete status. I do not have to prove that I am tough as nails by pushing through pain. Do what I need to do to get myself healthy again. That is all that matters. Every day that I let my ego get the best of me, is a day that I could have made progress with healing. Be patient. I may not feel it now, but I will heal. And if I am proactive during my recovery/rehab, I will not only heal but I will be stronger than before.

Don't let this injury destroy me. There's no need to throw in the towel. I can think about many of my friends, age group, elite and professional athletes who have had incredible comeback stories after overcoming an injury. There are athletes who have been injured and then beaten the odds and other athletes who struggled for a long time and provided an extreme dose of motivation with their initial comeback to the sport. I have to be doubly motivated to put in the work to heal myself. Come back too soon and I will experience more time lost. Keep myself as fit as possible by focusing on what I can do, pain free, so that I do not cause any more setbacks. When I am ready to make my return back to full training again, I will be so happy that I did not give up when the going got tough. I will not be injured forever - don't forget this.

Do let the injury strengthen you. I will be mentally stronger. I will be my own comeback story. How will my story end? What do I see as my happy ending? What's motivating me to get better? What's keeping me focused and determined to not give up? I need to make smart decisions so I don't back track. And what will this injury teach me about myself? Its pointless being weak, lazy, unmotivated, angry or bitter! Rather, stay determined, focused, hard working and diligent that there WILL be a positive outcome when I DO return to the sport that I love.
Just do the right thing, make the right decisions and be smart.
It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

So I sent Coach some thoughts in an email last night, with the above in mind. (I need to acknoledge TriMarni for the blog above, which I have edited to suit me. But her blog resonated with me so much)
Hi AP,

ok, so its 18 weeks til Western Sydney. What I have put down here is based on:
  • keeping the load off the legs - I figure if I can keep away from running and the pounding then it will give the knees a chance to calm down and hopefully the inflammation will settle. So lots of elliptical and walking.
  • Still keeping fit  - more bike and strength work in the hills, keep the load off, stay fit enough to run when its time to start again. Bike has no pounding on the legs.
  • Staying strong in the legs and core - lots more strength work so that the muscles in my hips, legs, core get ready for running. I know 5 days core might seem a lot, but it would be different each day, like TRX, clams and planks etc 
  • Moving forward - looking at every opportunity to keep working towards my goals and staying happy.

Obviously all is up for discussion when you get back. But my thoughts are this....

AMStrength & Core &                           Elliptical (1hr avail)Outdoor ride (2-3hrs avail)Swim (oak flats)Indoor spin &                        walk/run offSwim (oak flats)Long rideRecovery ride                               &/or 2+hr walk/hike
PMAP10 Swim Squad &                                  Core workStrength & Core &                           Elliptical (1+hrs avail)Indoor spin &                   core workStrength & Core &                           Elliptical (1+hrs avail)Walk (1-2hrs avail) &                           stretch & releaseOpen water swim or                                           long swim (oak flats)stretch & release              family time


Friday, July 17, 2015

It Takes a Little While to Come Out............

I read this article the other day.....yeah Facebook. But it resonated with me so much I sent it to Big Gazza and when he was done reading he just looked at me and laughed. "That explains so much, its exactly you" he said. So I, in typical style pondered on this for a week or so and then decided to write a post. So here it is.

Note: I have edited, cut & paste, manipulated the article to suit my own purposes and I have no reference sorry.

Apparently it has been proven that 'highly' (I'm not suggesting that I am in the highly category) creative people’s brains work quite differently than other brains. That special brain wiring that can create such wonderful art, music, and writing can often lead to strain in a relationship, because of those differences. This translates as a good old fashion barny between Gazza and I when we are working on a building project together. We have discovered, over time, that if I draw it, he can build it.

If you’ve ever loved a highly creative person, you know that it can seem like they live in their own little word at times, and that thought isn’t far from the truth. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are in love with a highly creative person:

1. Their Minds Don’t Slow Down The highly creative mind is one that is running at full speed all the time. Although it can be a source of crazy, spontaneous fun – it can also be a burden. Highly creative people rarely keep normal sleep cycles, and are often prone to bouncing from one task to another throughout the day. It can be exhausting to try to keep up. Sleeeeeep, I can think of so many times when I have gone to bed with a problem and in the morning woken up with the solution. I had dreamt about it and my subconscious mind has solved it and then retained the information for me to share with Gazza in the morning. He has even woken up in the morning and said to me, "So, what's the answer?" and I have been able to tell him. He just shakes his head. I remember a time very clearly when Kez was just a baby. Her nursery was a large room with a picture rail and dado board running around the walls. I couldn't afford to buy a cupboard for her clothes. But overnight I dreamt a solution of placing two triangle shaped boards into the corner of the room and they would attach to the running boards and a curtain in front. Sorted! Bouncing from one task to another sounds sporadic and out of control. I'm the type of person who has a hundred balls in the air at once. I have projects happening, art work in progress and always something on the go. I have tried to uncomplicate my life. And sometimes there is too much going on. But un-complicating is hard for me and I inevitably clutter it up again. I live in a whirlwind. Its about cramming as much into my life as I can.

2. They are Cyclical The flow of creativity is a cycle, full of highs and lows. Some people may consider this “manic” behavior, but in reality, it is just how the creative process works. Keep this in mind as your partner goes through these natural ebbs and flows. The low periods aren’t permanent. There have certainly been a lot of ups and downs. Life is a rollercoaster. I say to Gazza often "Watch me for the changes and try to keep up." He does a pretty good job of both. There have been plenty of times when I have needed to recalibrate, have thrown artworks against a wall, fallen face first in the mud, panicked, spent days unmoving on the lounge, danced like a crazy person, held my hands in the air and whooped as life has sent me soaring towards the next exciting idea or experience and I try as hard as I can to take those who want to, along for the ride.

3. They Need Time Alone Creative minds need air to breathe. Whether it is their own little work space or an escape to somewhere quiet, they need a time and place to be alone with their thoughts. Some people are inclined to think that if nothing is being said that there is something wrong, but with creative people that is not the case. They are just working within their own head. Oh boy is this me! While I crave interaction and I am energised by people and love the idea of being social and having fun times with people. I fiercely hold on to my own time. I can disappear, if needed or by choice, into my own thoughts and scroll mentally through a list of thoughts, issues, challenges, new ideas, memories, stones left unturned and boxes that need unpacking. I can dream, scheme and scream in my own mind and I can do this when I am alone, or alone in a crowd of thousands. Its easy to disappear and ruminate. And I can get into trouble for it too. Whoops.

4. They are Intensely Focused
When a creative person is on task, they are fiercely intense. The change from being scatter-brained to hyper-focused can be difficult to deal with, so just understand that it is how their brains work. Don’t get frustrated. Hmmm, I don't feel like I am scatter-brained or chasing butterflies or shiny objects that catch my attention. But I can skip from activity to activity or idea to idea. Sometimes I can get in my own way and struggle with getting started. But, when the light turns green, then I am locked on. It is intense to the point of obsession and the fixation can sometimes get me into trouble. An example of this is the little 86 parked in the garage. The little orange car is the product of a solid year of fixation, obsession and intensity. I tried to fight it, but one day I just drove to the car yard and bought the car. With time and perhaps age and a little maturity, I have managed to recognise when I am fixating on something and can temper it (sometimes). So my latest obsession is about extending the house. Yes, my obsessions can get very expensive.

5. Emotions Run Deeper Creative people feel everything on a deeper level. What doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, can be crushing to them. It’s that same passion that goes into whatever they create that drives them to love you, so understand that with the good – comes the bad. I think over time and with maturity I have been able to keep my emotions on a fairly steady keel. But I can look back over my shoulder and remember times when I have been engulfed by emotion. Most prominent a jaw operation that went terribly wrong. Feeling trampled and helpless as the news rolled over me that the op had left me worse off than prior. The helplessness and blackness carried around from about 12years of age about my appearance. But also of note, the release of black energy when I came to terms about what I couldn't change or control. Freedom.

6. They Speak in Stories Creative people often express themselves in experiences, instead of just saying what they want to say. It is a way of sharing themselves that personifies who they are. At times, it can be difficult to figure out what a creative person is saying, so don’t be afraid to read between the lines. Guilty! Yes I talk in stories, I can go out and around the block and then bring it all back again to make my point. In conflict I often 'acknowledge' others feelings and start my own sentences with 'I feel.' Sometimes, ok often, others can hear this and wonder what the hell I am talking about. Meli was someone who struggled often with this. I found it hard to just say what I wanted to say straight up. I work hard on being a straight shooter, but often it can leave Gaz pulling what little hair he has left OUT!

7. They Battle with Themselves Being creative can be a serious internal struggle. Motivation, enthusiasm, direction, and drive can all be issues for creative people. Some days it is hard for them just to get out of bed, and other days you can’t get them to slow down. Be patient in the lulls, because there is usually a burst of activity right around the corner. As I said... life is a roller coaster. But there have been days when I have not moved off the couch. I call it 'The Little Black Cloud.' Its hard for me to see it closing in and it can hang around for quite a while. Its a work in progress that one.

8. Intuition is Important Creative people, because of their intense emotional tendencies, tend to rely on intuition over logic. They go with their gut. Some people consider this to be more on the “impulsive” end of the spectrum. The creative mind doesn’t rely on logic to make a decision, it relies on experience and passion. Case in point is the little car, a year long obsession and then an impulsive weekend drive to the caryard. But, I would never change the way I am driven by passion. Give me a moment of passion, than a lifetime of nothing at all. Give me life real, raw and unedited. Sometimes it hurts like hell, sure. But I want to experience every moment with intensity and love.

9. They Struggle with Confidence
When people create, especially for a living, they are always struggling with acceptance. That is art. They have to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and so they always question whether or not what they are producing is good enough. Being supportive is the key to loving a creative person. I could never sell my own work. I have given away so many artworks. The only way I could work was to work for someone who would then put a price (plus his cut) on my work. I hid behind the safety of Bron's negotiating and sale ability. I never wanted to work to a brief and climb into someone's head and try and see what they want me to paint. I'd much rather paint something and then if you like it, then you can offer me a price. Or you can take it if you like it. Easy.

10. Growing Up is Hard to Do Creative people are almost always children at heart. That care-free nature can seem immature and impetuous – but it is all part of the deal. Understand that the aspects of their creative brains that you love are the same ones that make them somewhat irresponsible when it comes to being an adult. oh I just don't like this growing up business. But who does? I enjoy wistful. I enjoy dreaming of flying and endless possibilities. I love horses and dreams. I don't want to make decisions, pay bills, plan for retirement, learn about super. ahhhhhhhhh I never want to grow up!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sydney 10k a Freezing DNS.....

So, the Big Day arrived and then went. Well, its still going really. It's 4:21pm and I am rugged up in my pjs in front of the heater that doesn't seem to be making an ounce of difference to this freezing day. The orangeness of the gas heating the gauze suggest its doing its darndest to get the job done. Poor little guy is destined to fail. I know how he feels. I know, I haven't really failed. How can you fail if you never even get started. But nevertheless it sure does feel like a fail. It's a DNS today. Damn it hurts.
I could focus on the positives here. I didn't have to warm up and jog on the spot trying to keep warm pre race. I could have 2 x ciders and a glass of wine with dinner, and over eat until I had heartburn and not have to worry about the headache or the bloating. I didn't have to worry about the wind beating me in the face with needle like icicles. I didn't have to get cold to the bone waiting for everyone to finish and then struggle to get changed under a paper thin towel. I didn't have to sit in cold, damp, sweaty, stinky running clothes in a cafĂ© eating cold muesli and milk.  I could hold everyone's coats for them by putting them on so I looked like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. So, it aint so bad after all.
Coach sent out a text asking how I was travelling today? ummmm cold and shitty with a chance of tantrums.
Finding a happy thought....We had a good night. Went out for dinner and followed it up with a little something sweet. I have to say, I didn't enjoy it and didn't finish the dessert. I am so pleased that I have met this challenge and beaten it. I am no longer a sugar-holic team! And now the portions of meals is starting to take some focus. I just can't keep eating and eating without some serious discomfort as a result. There is nothing fun about having to sit up in bed and burp to try and settle the tummy.

Gaz seemed a little sluggish this morning. Didn't seem over keen to get going. He was hoping for a sub 45mins. He finished just outside of that with a 49:14. He says he is happy with the time and struggled a bit. He says he didn't train as good as he should as was a bit cocky when he claimed he could do sub 45. Everyone else finished around the hour mark, so a good day for the gang.
 It's time for a recalibration of my goals and dreams I think.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

You Have Got To Be Joking.........

So about 2 weeks ago I had a run where I got to 5kms and the knees started to niggle. I walked home. Took me ages to get home to. The ITBs were not happy and I was worried. The following Saturday I hit the National Park in the freezing cold and had both legs cramp. This week I headed out for my run. I got to about 2.5kms and BANG!

I am not a happy camper peeps. Not Happy at all. I was supposed to be racing this weekend. I had signed up to the 10km Sydney Run. I did it last year and fell on a curb but otherwise finished the race. I had hoped this year to repeat and improve. Apparently its not to be. Yet again I rip up another race number and waste money.
Sorry, this is a pouty spoilt brat post today. But I am also very upset. I have been working so hard on my core and strength work. Not hard enough though. Not enough to make a significant improvement and prevent injury. Geezus I am so annoyed.
In a moment of feeling sorry for myself I look up and compare myself to others in the Crew. I have, over time, learnt not to do this and just focus on my own game. But last week one of the Crew, who also suffers from ITB issues, got up and did a marathon in 3:38. Now all I can say is WTF! She is 40. She wasn't running and now running and doing it in style. Hats off to her. I need to work harder. Pouty moment over!
This photo tells the story about what's going on, more than I can describe. Searing pain at the knee joint. The end symptom of an imbalance occurring in my hip region. If you scan back through these posts, there will be regular references to this. Its been with me before my first Ironman. 2011.
I'm frustrated as hell. I sent a text out to Coach this morning. "Morning update from face down in the mud. Went out for my run. Got about 2kms and then both knees just went. Walked home in pain. Normally stops when I walk, so I figure they are both fucked. Still in pain, both sides. It's not ok. I'm not ok. I'm off to work now to take it out on some poor innocent. Talk to you later."
Some back and forth comments checking in this afternoon. I have still not been able to find my happy thought. I struggle with continuing on, one let down after another. I struggle with Gazza and my friends questioning Coach. I push back. The man is in Spain working with the Olympians, as if he isn't the best. However, my love of the sport and my inner strength to pick myself up and carry on is waning badly. Maybe I should give up and choose something else to do. Perhaps its time. BUT deep down I want to keep going. I enjoy the fitness, the friends, the AP Crew, Coach etc. I will ask Coach about the ITB release surgery. Its the last stone unturned. In the meantime though I have made a decision.....
No racing! I will not sign up for any more races and waste any more money until.....
I have run without issue, under pressure and at full load, at my maintenance weight and having built a strong base of strength and core work and have confidence that I am fully ready and prepared for the race. I think reasonably I am talking about taking a year off racing. That includes no Husky L.C 2016. I will call Western Sydney off and watch to see if I can get my entry fee back too.