It is the usual storyline just with different A-list cast. The same rock I’ve periodically beached ship on. Alas, the current niggle and training restriction I am on was and is an avoidable reality if better body management was achieved with greater consistency.
Prevention is so much better than cure. Again. I know, I have sais this before.
Unsure how this funk originally started, but its ripple effect I’ve been tracing for more than six weeks to date, ever since my first weekend in the United States. Likely was the spill on that tennis court wet from rain during the Xterra in Alabama. I ran bruised and then went into the following week with a left gluteus that was tender. At the same time, I switched to the new Look Pedal platform three days before Alabama. I did not get the spacing right and had much less float than I was used to, creating a agitated left soleus . But again, the soleus may have been accentuated by the bruise.
I tried a massage in Tennessee, before the Ellie Goulding show actually (who I’m still infatuated with. Lengthy crush.) Regrettably very pricy and very ineffectual and therefore teeth grinding frustration followed along with a hesitation to pursue massage while on the road – despite conscious acknowledgement of the need to, the historic results of neglecting that basic necessity of my athletic routine.
Before the two weeks in Richmond was up I realize trouble in my left hip flexor was flaring. I did run through much initial discomfort which can be likened to a recovering crack addict willingly walking down dark alleys in the city center. Risky business. Positive attitude rewards none in the this situation – pragmatism is a better investment. By the Thursday I saw both a local masseuse who was brilliant as well as a Canadian athlete who works full time as phyiso and had flown into RVA from the event. Both did aid but there was more mess than time allowed at hand.
By the end of a ‘happy’ race, winning not withstanding, I couldn’t bend my back, especially not my left QL. I’d booked my app’s in Boulder before the day was out, hoping to redirect the trend there. Sadly by the Wednesday’s shoot every stride was still worryingly uncomfortable and decided it would be my only run till the Sunday by which point my announce of no improvement overwhelmed the quiet resolve to rest till sorted. It was still only painful on the run, so I kept biking easy where I feel little, enjoying Boulder’s sunshine and active roads.
Brazil was testing on the body: both pre-riding with its hike-a-bike demands and the vertical run profile which seemed fine for the up but unplayable on the descents. Hardly ran other than checking the course. At this point just resolving to survive till Stellenbosch. Then the loose cleat accentuated whatever underlying bad alignment from imbalanced movement patters I had. I had big relief finishing there despite misfortunes.
I saw Francois before seeing home, determined to do all I can between Tuesday lunch arrival and a Friday morning depart to Knysna for a five race 9day festival. In hindsight this was arguably the time to withdraw from the Big5 and gamble on the Xterra alone. That said, I was intrigued to race the mtb and road bike events, get round the trail run and return to the renowned Half which I did a couple of times during Uni years. But I’ll blog re Big5 next.
Chiro had me declared very even, close to perfect actually. Sure the left SI joint area was off and riding higher at first, but by Friday he too was confident. Its like Shrek, like an onion, “layers”. With Franc we go back step-by-step till we figure the root cause. No need to bother much with the nerve pain, that’s symptomatic.
The mountain bike had me like a toddler, calling mother dearest afterwards in need of rescue. I was fragile after taking the form I had to the edge, asking of my strong firing muscles groups to compensate as much they can for the inactive ones. The following morning was the road bike, and by Tuesday’s Featherbed Trail run I was feeling like a singer songwriter on stage under the lights, without confidence for the lyrics that need to follow. It was a demanding trail, plenty fun to charge round, but not ideal for a limping lad. I pushed through more discomfort and even pain that I should have, hoping Franc who was driving up for me that afternoon, would be able to piece me together like NYC puzzle Helen and Nici were building on the coffee table. In fact the massage table went up next to it. The puzzle proved easier than the body.
By this point I am radically frustrated and loosing my optimism. Now stretching, activation, physio, rest, all seem too limited for the fight. I’m walking with an irregular gait; I second-guess my pedal strokes on the bike, ankle in knee out. I battle to balance on my left leg when I am putting my right shoe on. It’s a far cry from par.
Franc did wonders to release what he could, deep fascia work, spasming knots that were the body’s means of protection for the unstable forces of the undulating off camber sandy trail. I am incredibly grateful for his efforts, and loved his family staying with us for two nights.
I had not taken a step since Tuesday, so did a lengthy successful 40’ bike warm up while trying to see Helen complete the Xterra Lite. Thursday start was a sensible 1230. Others were cheered but sadly missed seeing the sister. Racked the bike and now fifteen minutes before racing (lights on curtains parted) I started running on the grass oval known as Pezula’s “Field of Dreams”. More nightmares I thought. I couldn’t put weight through my left. Shooting nervy jolts from my hip flexor stabbed like an unexpected bee. Stretched, tried, did a drill, tried again. Felt panic stricken. Somehow a nerve was being pinched. Shit so thick you couldn’t stir with a stick.
Called Ant over and sort of needed a hug but didn’t want to disrupt his mojo. Gathered my conviction and waddled over to Michael Meyer, a close friend and business associate. I believe it was instinct to step within his vast perspective, needing his affirmation, he’s been on every side of high performance sport. He was calm.
The feeling was like big gulps of shame. Buckets of disappointment. Spoonful’s of regret. Sprinkles of embarrassment even.
A month earlier I’d felt on top of the world with the wind in my sails. Here I felt I couldn’t do the basics of my profession, let alone do it well. I’d hope to showcase for Totalsports and Rehidrat, both key dreamGivers of mine and who don’t get to see me racing often. I’ve done ten Xterra’s this year of which only two are at home. I’m proud to represent their brands, be a part of their team, I want to represent their brands. Alas. It was not just my loss but theirs too.
Ross Tucker uses the term ‘performance pixilation’. I know, take a step back, this is not your first, nor your last. You’ve got it wrong this time but pull away and you’ll get a fuller perspective. It’s been a brilliant few months. I couldn’t hang, said some words across the mike, cheered Brad and Ant on their second run and took off to a feed and then a swim vent.
It was not just a dead end for the Xterra but for the Big5. I want it stated that Stuart was exceptional and wouldn’t have been beaten had there been fine form my side. I believe the Xterra could have been entertaining especially with the muddy bike conditions, but for the Big5 – too classy on fresh run legs he is. Carla van Huyssteen was equally impressive. #SA’sGotTalent
Thanks to the Magentic South Crew for their Big5 welcoming. So too Paul Ingpen and his mag write up on the dual. The Stillwater crew produced a highlight with their inaugural Xterra Kids events on the Wednesday where my neighbours got two wins and second. I was hoping to follow their efforts and represent Lanzerac Str with the panache they had. Next time.
Did the Dragon mile swim on Friday for a kick, gapped by Kent Horner who had a strong week too and seems to be setting up a return to top end full time racing. The rest of Knysna time was a mini sulk in the form of fine wine and gourmet treats in the space of friends and family.
The story ends with this:
One. Clear the inflammation.
Two. Reprogamme the movement pattern by systematically building individual components of that there movement. Means getting on the mat, getting the rubber bands firing the gluteus, single leg squats. All while keeping the dominant groups from locking up again and taking over.
Three. Start riding and include some single leg sections.
Four. Pray before running.
Five. Race Xterra Beaver Creek on a wish and another prayer. The timeline is short.
Feels good to write about it, unpack it. Thanks for reading. Hope there is a lesson in it for you too.