Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stop yelling at me!

Particularly muddy trail run, The Catlins, NZ

So, injury! I've developed shin splints in the last few weeks. Oddly enough, it is just in my left leg (the one I had surgery on). I'm frustrated because I don't know exactly why.

I've got a feeling it is a combination of:
- Transitioning shoes from Saucony ProGrid Ride to Saucony Fasttwitch over the last 3-4 months
- Spending 2.5 weeks in New Zealand running-focused (80-100k weeks) - the total volume was low (~13 hours/wk), but primarily running and some swimming rather than balanced s/b/r.
- The running in NZ was strictly trail running, very hilly and the terrain was very uneven. Muscularly, I was recovering better than ever. But that's trails for ya, they're effortless muscularly. The tendons and ligaments were taking a pounding that I suppose they were just not used to.

I saw a doctor in New Zealand who suggested I might have the beginnings of shin splints, but I was focusing on 2 acute injuries at the time (a sprained ankle and a very bruised bone at the top of my left foot from 2 separate accidents). So when I returned to Melbourne and the pain worsened, I saw a physiotherapist. No running for 2 weeks, minimum. It's been 1 week and I think I'm going crazy!! I've had two 5' runs at the end of a cycling w/u before strength training and... there isn't a sharp pain but rather a dull ache that lingers a bit.

I'm frustrated because... well, I'm not supposed to get these overuse injuries. You know what athletes are like (or just Type A individuals in general), they hold themselves up to such a ridiculously high standard. I'm supposed to be striving for perfection. Overuse injuries do NOT fit into this equation. It's unacceptable for me to have them, and I am upset with myself for getting them. I need to heal myself, I need to pinpoint what gave me shin splints so that it can never happen again.

Anyway, this blog post by a triathlete I admire greatly (Terenzo Bozzone) sort of screamed at me. Although, not to disregard my own athletic strivings, I feel more for him and his injury than myself and my own. I imagine, as a professional triathlete, not only would I feel my athletic endeavors falling apart should I incur an injury, but my professional career at risk as well. It's a frightening position to be in, no matter what the extent of the injury.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A little bit of New Zealand

Okay, let's talk about New Zealand. I lived there in the summertime from Nov 2010 to Feb 2011. I fell in love with the country. I've never been more infatuated with a place/person/thing as I am with New Zealand. The love is MASSIVE. When I had to return to the big city (Melbourne, Australia), I was honestly quite heartbroken. In cities, I feel trapped by cars, buildings, bitumen and various other man-made contraptions.
So, when I realized I could return to NZ, albeit briefly (2.5 weeks), I grabbed at that opportunity and clung to it. I've never been more sure of anything in my life: NZ is my home, and I can only count the days until I return (Dec 2011, if you care to know).
NZ was perfect, it always is. I ran often, I ran long, I explored the South Island. I don't have much to say, other than... this is home. I have this strong gut feeling that I'll be transitioning towards ultrarunning quite shortly (the jump to a 50k ultra is small at this point, but I'm going to hold off to do my first one in NZ).

I think I'm beating around the bush here a bit. I'm currently in training for my second Ironman (August 28, 2011, Ironman Louisville) and the motivation is still high, but cycling in a city honestly freaks me the fuck out, and makes me really tense. In fact, I hate it. I'm sucking down toxic fumes, I'm always at risk of serious DEATH (then again, when is death not serious) because of the cars, trucks, trams and pedestrians, and there are no nice views. It's cold and rainy all the time. I'm whingeing. The point is, I don't think I feel that cycling love. And I should do the things I love, no? I know I'm just being a whiny bastard right now, but why do I love swimming and running so much, and not cycling? Honestly, I often daydream about ultra training. I love trail running, I'm built for it, I'm passionate and motivated to get on those trails and explore. However, were I "only" an ultra/trail runner, then my swim training would have no real purpose, and I can't just give up swimming (yet swimming with no goal or target is also ridiculous in my mind). Do I want to give up riding? In Melbourne, yes, I could easily hang the knicks up and part ways. In other places (warm, scenic places with gorgeous roads), no, I'd never be able to. I'd want to maintain my mechanical butterfly status.

Hmmm, put it this way.
Swimming: God damn it, I push myself so hard in swim squad. I swim with fish and just try to keep up. It's the most exhausting, yet satisfying, feeling to hit your time intervals, break down mental barriers and get out of the pool absolutely dying with hunger because in the last 1.5-2 hours your body consumed so much energy that you're running on empty. You're in the negative digits. I strive to be better with each passing week, and I love it.
Running: In cities, on roads, I honestly don't give a shit about running long. I could easily transition to be a short-course runner, and focus on 5k and 10k, and even track stuff. And I'd like it. I'd have that drive to get better and better. I'd feel that hunger.
Cycling: And here's where it's different... in cities, I don't even want to get on the bike. I dread getting on the bike. Get me out on beautiful, empty roads (NZ, and I'm thinking I'll love Arizona, Utah and Colorado roads when I visit them this summer), and I want to be out riding in the warmth. Do I want to be out "training"? Actually, no. Not really. I pretty much adore group riding, and would be happy doing 2 short group rides a week, and a long group ride on the weekend. I love the smashfest that is group riding, and I do ADORE week-long cycling camps, but I'm never "in it to win it". I don't like cycling training. What I do enjoy is going out riding (alone or in a group) to explore the countryside. No, I don't mean touring... I think that's slow and I like going fast. I mean... I think I need to step back from the racing side of cycling (triathlons, not crits or road races, I don't do those), and re-begin cycling. Discover a love for cycling that I know I had when I was a kid -- I would get on my dinky kid's bike and pedal around my neighborhood and the surrounding 'burbs for hours. I'm quite certain I knew the area better than 95% of the people living there. That's not exactly the kind of riding I want to do now, but it reminds me of why I liked riding. I liked exploring.

I think what I'm getting at is that I think I'll have very limited "triathlon training" left in me. I'll want to continue with swim squad, I'll want to do solo swims as well (both OWS and in the pool). I want to become a phenomenal swimmer. I'll want to be a part of an amazing cycling group and have great cycling buddies (and I do have some of that in Melbourne, it's just in the wrong location for me) and develop my riding strength really casually. Oh, still the smashfest, just not with a particular GOAL in mind. I just want to get out and ride, ride, ride. As for run, now this is something I really want to develop. I want to have 2 seasons... of varying length. I want one season to find my speed, get on the track often, do strictly 5k and 10k road races. In the other season, I want to get onto the trails, develop that phenomenal endurance and strength that I know that I have and experience brilliant trails, picturesque scenery and painful endurance events. Ultra training. So I'll never be training for a triathlon, but whenever I feel like it, I'll have the ability to sign up for any triathlon of my choosing up to half-ironman. If I feel particularly inspired at any time to do an ironman, all I'll need is a couple months (3-5 months) advance warning, and I'll rebuild whatever cycling endurance is lacking and fine tune marathon pacing and that'll be that.

This is good, I'm starting to discover what kind of training works for me, and what I love and do not love.

And as a thank you for reading all of the above whingeing and run on sentences, here are a few scenic shots of NZ. Shots of beauty.

Nydia track run in Pelorus Sound

Pelorus Sound

Lake Hawea

Lake Wanaka

Hakatere Scenic Reserve

Lake Matheson

Punakaiki Rocks, West Coast

West Coast

Moeraki Boulders, East Coast

Mt Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park

Most beautiful run in Mt Cook Nat'l Park

Mirror Lake, on the way to Milford Sound

Milford Sound

East Coast, on the way to Dunedin

Paukanui Falls, the Catlins

Taeri Mouth run, South tip of South Island

Waipapa Point Lighthouse

Falls in Waipohatu Forest on a run, The Catlins

Autumn in Wanaka

Ruby Island and The Peninsula, Lake Wanaka