Thursday, January 28, 2010

Over the hump

And not just because it's Thursday either.

I'm talking about my calf injury that has been driving me crazy since October. For the past week, I've been pushing it as much as I can and I've found that pretty much anything I've done has not kept me from working out the next day. I even did a brick! (Well, sort of.)

I still can't run very much. But I can run and every time I try, I can run more and faster. Also, it feels better when I work out than when I don't, which is always a good sign.

So the end is in sight, at least.

Which means maybe I can figure out how this happened to me.

Originally, I was convinced that I did not get this injury from over-training. After all, I was only working out about 10 hours a week. Or less. Other people training for HIMs work out 15 hours a week or more! People who overtrain often workout 20-25 hours a week. That's not me!

What I've figured out is that over-training isn't working more hours than other people. It's working out more than my own body can handle. Which means, for some people, working out 5 hours a week could be over-training.

In my case, the wheels started coming off for me when I started trying to workout more than 10 hours a week. I was trying to get up to 15 hours and 9 workouts. But I just couldn't. I was not getting home from evening workouts until 8:30 pm or later. By the time I caught up on my personal life, it was often 1 am or later. Then I was getting up at 5:30 am or earlier in order to do morning workouts, at least a few days a week.

I was exhausted and started falling on my bike a lot. So I decided I'd had enough. As Chrissie Wellington always says in interviews, training isn't just the hours you spend working out. It's sleeping and eating and everything you do. It all impacts your performance. I cut back my workouts and made a point to get to bed earlier.

But it was already too late, it seems.

The other problem is that, once I got injured, I did pretty much everything wrong. Not on purpose. I thought I was taking it easy and not being stupid.

But first I didn't take my injury very seriously. I kept doing all my workouts except running. I thought it would fix itself like most of my previous niggles and aches. It wasn't that much different because, most of the time, I'd feel tight in my calf, but it would loosen up when I worked out. The only difference is that running hurt and never got better; in fact, it got worse.

The next thing I did wrong was to continue to race in Oct. But, I have to say, I can't really regret that. Heck, I came in 4th in my age group in the last race I completed! But, if this had happened to me earlier in the season, and I'd keep racing, I could have screwed up most of my season.

Then, in Nov. I didn't back off enough in my training. I thought I was, but my standards are not normal. When my doctor says "take it easy" she's not thinking I'm going to go out and do a 13 mile bike ride at an average of 12 mph. But, to me, that is "taking it easy" because it's at a much lower intensity and lower volume than I usually do.

In Dec. I did "nothing" by my standards (a couple of 25 mile bike rides and some water aerobics -- only 2-3 hours a week) and I also figured out that my biking and swimming technique were contributing to my issues. I tend to hyper point my legs and over point my toes when I kick and I was "toeing" in my stroke on the bike. I spent a lot of time in January fixing my technique and it helped a lot.

My overall conclusion is that, the traits that attracted me to triathlon and help me excel at it, are the same traits that caused me to mishandle my injury. I don't think I'm the only one, either, as I've seen others go through the exact same thing -- including some pros I've read about!

Hopefully, I've learned from this and will handle things differently next time, assuming I can't prevent a next time, that is.
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