Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Few Words About Recovery

This will be my first fitness-related post since completing the Liberty 1/2 Ironman 10 days ago.  The theme for last week was recovery.  As well as the race went for me, (you can check out the race report here) I was pretty battered up after the race - more so that I initially realized.  Other than a hefty blister on my right big-toe, I couldn't SEE anything wrong with my body at first.  There were the usual aches and pains, but nothing that shouldn't have worn off after a couple of days. 

On Sunday I spent most of my time in the recliner hovering between nap time and TV time.  Essentially, I was a giant waste of skin for a good 24 hours.  When Monday rolled around, that gnarly blister was healing, my quads felt fine and my calves were only a little tight.  But, there was a new pain that I wasn't anticipating - my left foot hurt like a sonuvabitch when I walked on it.  It would be okay for about 6 steps and then continue to get worse until I had to either find something to lean on, or just hop around.  So, I decided to tough it out through work and do the whole 'waste of skin' thing at home again. 
When I got to Tuesday and my foot hadn't gotten any better, I started to worry.  Torn tendons or (gasp!) broken bones could keep me off my feet for a couple of months during some of the most critical training time.  I was lucky enough to get an appointment with a specialist that could see me the same day.   

I limped my way through the hospital - somehow walking on my tip-toes felt better - and met with the doc.  The good news was that, from what they could tell, I hadn't broken or torn anything.  The bad news was that I had a case of tendinitis affecting my peroneus longus and peroneus brevis.  He showed my how to wrap my foot with athletic tape to keep the pain down and told me to take copious amounts of Advil until it stopped hurting.  However, I was supposed to keep activity to a minimum.  In short, I could still swim, but probably shouldn't bike and DEFINITELY shouldn't run.  Bah.

Those two blue bands wrapping around my ankle sure are fickle little jerks.  Oh, and thanks for the diagram Wiki!

Wednesday was another rest day - I spent the day driving to northern Minnesota to celebrate my Mom's birthday.  Then finally, on Thursday I was able to do my first actual workout since the race.  That's 4 days off in a row.  Now, keep in mind, I haven't taken two consecutive days off since early April and haven’t taken 3 days since last year.  By this time, I was starting to get a little twitchy, kind of like a drug addict going through withdrawal, except minus the 'imaginary-ants-crawling-on-the-skin' part.

On Thursday, the pool felt great, colder than I remember, but still great.  I did, however, learn that athletic tape is not waterproof.  Not good.  On Friday, I did another pool workout and then tried out an easy bike ride - 11 miles at 16mph.  The foot still hurt some, but it was a manageable pain.  That said, 11 miles was probably plenty. 
On Saturday I did another pool workout followed by a little longer bike. This time I was able to push a little harder and the pain wasn't too bad.  I mean, it wasn't GONE, but I don't think it affected my performance.

Sunday was just a quick bike, but I could push even harder - almost to a normal workout pace. In the mean time, regular walking was still a pain.  It was worst in the mornings, and then the tendons seem to loosen up throughout the day.  It had been over a week since the race and I hadn't tried walking any faster than a modest stride.  

In the mean time, I was getting ready to start my first 'theme week' in the training plan.  For the next 3 weeks, each week of the plan will focus on one discipline.  For June 21 through June 27, it’ll be the swim.  The following week will be the run, and the last week will be the bike, followed by a rest week. 

Having the swim this week has been a blessing.  I haven’t had to cut out any workouts yet as my first run isn’t supposed to take place until tomorrow.  The foot is slowly getting better.  It feels more numb now and less hurt-y. I was able to grunt through mowing the lawn last night and I’m hoping that I can re-introduce it (albeit gingerly) to running tomorrow evening. The plan calls for a low-effort 30-minute run, but this can easily be shortened if there is any pain.   The worst-case scenario is that there is still substantial pain after the run and I have to take a longer break from running.  If that’s the case, I’ll have to do my bike-centric week next and save the running for July. 

It’s frustrating to say the least.  After doing better than I was hoping at Liberty, I really wanted to hit the ground running (pun intended) for the next 3 weeks.  Running is still my weakest discipline and the one I’m most hesitant about for Madison.  Being unable to run for almost 2 weeks, and potentially more is a tough pill to swallow.

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