Friday, September 6, 2013

From The Sidelines

I have never been the spectator type. I have always been in the competition, on the podium or in the spot light. Yet due to an injury I have spent the last 4 weeks on the sidelines. It has been the toughest 4 weeks of my active life in that I have been forced to stop, relax, let go and breathe!

How it happened: Sometimes giving advice is way easier than taking it. As a personal trainer I tell people all day long to listen to their bodies, rest when they need to, ice, heat, massage, stretch, roll and so on!! However 9 weeks ago my hip started hurting. I am training for my first Half Ironman so everything was kind of hurting. BUT I ignored it. I’m tough right? I’m going to be a Half Ironman, right? Suck it up, right? WRONG!

After continuing to run and bike on my achy not so happy hip my body finally said, “Fine if you’re not going to listen I will just whine louder!” And it did. After a two hour bike ride and a mile swim I bent over to peel off my wet suit and couldn't stand up. I slowly sunk to my hands and knees and rolled onto my side. Uh oh this is definitely not good. I laid in the sand making all these promises like please just let my back be fine and I promise I will back off a little…Please just let my hip be ok and I promise I will stretch more…please..please..please..

The aftermath: It really didn't matter at this point what promises I made. The damage had been done. At this point I was seriously scared that I had done major and permanent damage. I have never had a serious back problem before. I have helped many clients recover from back injuries but this was my first time being on the other side.

Finally I decided to take my own advice. I took myself off training completely. This was the hardest thing for me to do. I went from training 6 days a week to nothing. I couldn't even do yoga because I simply could not bend over. So I did the only thing I could do and treated myself like a professional injured athlete. I got acupuncture three times a week, multiple weekly massages, used an inferred sauna almost every day, slept with my heating pad and a pillow under my knees. I used Arnica GelBloc Pain SpraySpider Tech Tape and I waited. And waited. And waited.

Back in the saddle: Well not quite but I’m getting there. I am 98% recovered and have slowly and I mean slowly started testing out my body again. I have been starting back 30 minutes at a time. An easy bike, an easy run. With each step I wait for my body to betray me, for my back to lock up or my hip to go out but it seems we have come to a reasonable agreement: I take care of it and it will do what I need it to.

This weekend I will have to miss a sprint triathlon that ironically was supposed to be my very first triathlon. I was really looking forward to this one because it would be one of the few races that I got to do with not only my husband but also my sister and her husband. It kills me to have to sit by and watch but instead of feeling sorry for myself I have decided to write a list of positive things I have learned.

Listen to my body: like really listen dummy!

         Be grateful for my health: reality check, I am not dying, I don’t have a major illness, I have all my limbs, I can walk, talk, and breathe

3      Learn to let go: this wasn't just about training and my back this was about an emotional build up that I tried to just shove away by pounding out all the training

4      Mindfulness: it’s easy to get caught up in the regimental lifestyle of triathlon training. I’m sure not everyone is like this but it became like an obsession. If I didn't get my workouts entered into my Garmin and then done and then downloaded and then edited and then and then and then = failure! It was nice to detach. I didn't even touch my Garmin for the last 4 weeks. I meditated instead. Each time I did my body relaxed just a little bit more as if to say yes I need this.

         Positive mental attitude: my husband says this to me all of the time. Believe you can and you will. That was a little hard to do at first as I fell out of bed every morning sobbing. So I dug a little deeper. I kept telling myself this wasn't permanent, that it would get better and to breathe. Breathe in healing light and love and breathe out pain, aching and tightness. I used mental imagery a lot and when my husband went out to run or ride I imagine myself with him. Strong, happy, whole. I imagined it right down to the temperature of the wind on my face.

         The importance of strength training: starting in January I went head first in to training for my first triathlon that would be in March. Then it was the Olympic distance in May. Now a Half Ironman in October. As the workouts grew in time and intensity I slowly let my weight training slide. I think this lead to a weakening of my core strength until finally my back got tired of doing all the work.

7      Last but not least to be a spectator: It will be nice to step aside for a moment and to not worry about packet pickups, race times and gear checks. It will be fun to hang out with Team FC who I never get to play or train with because I’m always “too busy”! It will also be great to watch my sister do this triathlon for the third time. This was her very first race and I know that she will crush it on Sunday. More than that it has been a pleasure to watch her go through her own struggles and triumphs from three years ago until today! Even though I have missed most all of my sisters races (including her Full Ironman) she has shown up to every single one of mine. She has ran alongside me, made me laugh, shouted, cheered, whooped and hollered from the sidelines. I really can’t wait to do the same for her! This whole lesson has been all about balance!