Winter…

Ran across the city again today… third time this Winter. I don’t think it was too bad out there, and I’m pretty sure I could have survived just fine, but the weather is supposed to jump up to a snow dump at some point today, and I didn’t want to have that during my time out. I have had to walk my bike across town, wearing cleats, and once was well beyond enough. Never again, hopefully!

Seeing cars spinning out all over definitely made me feel better about my decision, but oh well, new training phase! Yesterday was the usual rest day, so today is the first proper day in the power phase. Conveniently, I also just found this post a few days ago:

Hawaii Ironman Secrets

written by a fairly successful athlete pointing out that most of his training was going against the grain, ignoring most of the usual training mantra and just focusing on intervals to develop strength, as well as the importance of recovery. (The usual training mantra does suggest that enough recovery is important for intervals, since hard intervals not being hard enough are junk miles, but he takes it to a pretty strong extreme.)

In the power phase I am now going to be hitting intervals pretty hard, and given my issues with the ankle I like the reassurance that not running too much might be able to lead to great success, though I do feel there’s a little bit left off this post. Having a base in the first place is important, so long rides are still necessary. The claim that you don’t need to do 6+ hour rides is of course more relevant for people that can finish the bike course in just over 4 hours like him, though he brings up an interesting question: if you focus on intervals to develop speed, and bring your bike time town close to around 4 hours, maybe it’s not so important to do those long rides for your pre-speedy expected bike time.

As per not doing bricks, there is actually support for that already out there as a few studies showed that all levels of triathlete got no real benefit from a brick vs. just running on the same day as the bike at any time. As per doing none at all, well, after you’ve already got a year of races done, you are about as used to it as you can be…

I am a fan of unconventional approaches instead of just accepting what’s been passed down for years without asking questions, and having not really got the long rides I was looking for so far (I can’t imagine 4 hours on the trainer….) perhaps there is still hope for me!

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I am very happy to almost be done with my strength phase and be starting the power phase soon. Not that I haven’t enjoyed the strength work, but it’s going to be really nice not pushing near 3RMs on the squat and deads next week!

On an unrelated note, I came across a recovery shake that seemed interesting (see …). I shaped it around what I had available at the time, and loved it, so let me try to spread some joy:

Firstly, a half cup of cherries and a half cup of mango slices (both frozen only in these parts) as well as around half inch cuts of turmeric and ginger roots (nice hint of flavour as well as anti-inflammatory properties). Top with a handful of almonds and any other nuts/seeds you like (I have typically add pumpkin seeds for the variety of micronutrients). Looking for some extra after a harder/longer session, I’ll be ‘generous’ with my measurements above, and/or toss in a few dates as well.

shake solids

From here, add 1-2 cups of water, and 1-2 cups of almond (or your favourite other) milk in a 1:1 ratio. (Closer to 1 cup of each if you like a thicker shake, 2 cups each if you like otherwise, I just pour without measuring, roughly 1.5 cups each.) Blend, and enjoy!

shake shaking

Base 2

Been busy with some exciting changes underway, and training feels like it’s going strong, so we’ll see how this continues.

Last week was a recovery week so I tried to reduce volume to allow a bit of recovery on the mind and muscles, but it didn’t go well. On Wednesday I wanted to get back into doing flip turns in the pool, so still swam some lengths but spent most of the time behind the flags just trying turn after turn after turn. I hopped out of the pool and hit my knee on the side for the firs time, and while walking to the changing rooms just had a really cloudy mind. I definitely didn’t want to eat anything, and the walk home took more thought than a walk should! In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have flipped so much in the pool… (imagine spinning around in a circle as a kid to see what it’s like to throw off your balance, now imagine doing that for 30 minutes in a pool!)

I kept the runs very minimal to try and let my legs recover from the massive Tuesday the week before, as I had run 200 minutes the previous week and 340 because of the run commute… And as per the bike I capped the week off with a lactate threshold test, and those are always fun…. (ride as hard as you can maintain for 30 minutes).

So all in all, the week just felt like it wasn’t great. I lowered volume, but didn’t really feel recovered in any way. Fortunately I went to the gym Tuesday/Friday and set PRs, as well as laying down a 45 minute spin with a 15 minute tempo interval yesterday that just felt great. While I didn’t feel recovered last week, my body seems to have done quite well with the break, so I’m looking forward to see how this next phase goes with the added tempo/hill intervals to develop strength on the swim/bike (and maybe on the run if the ankle feels up to the challenge).

 

In the beginning…

I got interested in triathlon back around 2009, signed up for Ironman Canada, trained a bit and raced in August 2010. Went skiing in March 2011, and woke up a week later in hospital. Apparently a ski had popped off while I was going 80km/h and I fell instantly, getting knocked out with a concussion. That wouldn’t have been so bad on its own, but this happened right before the run steepened significantly…

I am told you could see me flying from the chairlift, and I landed about 100 feet down the run. Sliding another 100 feet and stopping right next to a paramedic that does ski patrol on their days off, my luck was not all bad that day!

A helicopter took me to the hospital, and an onslaught of tests/scans/surgery followed. There was a bleed in my brain, I had a Glasgow coma scale of 3 for some time, a simple fracture and a spiral fracture in my left femur with the piece in between being broken in two. The upper part of my femur broke through the acetabulum (hip socket) and continued through the SI joint. That wasn’t enough though, and it continued all the way to fracturing two of my vertebrae (the L2 and the L4).

So all in all it was no nice day in the park.

My family was given the troubling news that it may take up to two years to physically recover fully, but given the head trauma it was possible I may never wake up. Now of course luck played a huge part in my recovery, but having spent the previous year learning about exercise, nutrition, and health in general must have helped as well. I was conscious in less than a week and moved out of the ICU, then spent the next week in the orthopedic ward. After these two weeks I was discharged in a wheelchair.

Ten weeks later I was on crutches, and two weeks after that I moved to a cane. I then stayed with the cane longer that it felt necessary, just to play it safe, but I was already back on my bike and having a blast at the hospital physio once a week. Before the end of summer I was running on a treadmill, and while my concussion had not yet released its reigns on me, I was off to school in September.

Moving across the country, alone and broken, my PhD began. I couldn’t memorize a complete sentence but had two give 2 hour seminars. (I felt terrible for the audience that had to sit through these!) While I was doing well physically, the mental side was much slower to recover. School was hard. Very hard. But slowly things were coming back, and I couldn’t help but feel my Ironman training helped my physical recovery immensely. I had to learn how to use my brain again, but my body had re-learned how to function after almost any new physical activity I tried. I started to look at everything with a new approach: health was more important than we tend to think.

That’s where this comes in. I have learned so much from so many great people, and now that school is done (successfully! Dr. Broken Triathlete…) I may have some time to try to help others by getting the word out. My plan here is, well, I have no plan, but I can share the things I learn and do as I try to get back to doing triathlons.