I got into triathlon about 7/8 years ago, courtesy of working out, rebuilding my body following a serious accident some 10 years ago. As well as making me fitter than I’d been in years, it provided another benefit! Since going through a period of deep depression many years ago, from time to time the old depressive symptoms keep having a go from time to time. Exercise helps! Think it does so on two scores. Obviously the brain chemistry matters, releasing endorphins etc, but also, when I’m out training I find it very difficult to think about anything else – except perhaps for the beauty of creation which surrounds me which often provokes praise in my heart to God for the incredible breadth and depth of his creativity, and for the privilege of being able to get out and enjoy it! So, it’s probably the one place I can switch off, other than getting right away from my home town.
I love competing. I love the variety of swimming, cycling and running. In December I started to get pain in my left foot and heel, and by Christmas time I had to stop running. I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, though my symptoms were the reverse of most peoples…. instead of pain first thing in the morning when standing after a night of rest, I was the opposite! Fine first thing in the morning, but depending on how much I was on my feet during the day, the pain would come on and get worse – on a couple of times I had to call my faithful wife Julie and ask her to come and pick me up from somewhere as I couldn’t face the pain of walking home….
At the same time, there was huge pressure on the work front…. finding time for training was hard to do… if I managed a swim and a bike in the week I was doing well…. Often where in the past I might have got the turbo out for even just half an hour, I was often so tired that I couldn’t even bring myself to do that… strangely of course, I may have been better if I had done so!!
Anyway, in the past month or two, in the lead up to my sabbatical I began to get a little more time… or perhaps it was just the longer days and milder weather that was just encouraging me to make time better…. and so I got out a little more on the bike and maybe managed a couple of swims a week….. Since Christmas I have had a series of treatments on my foot, done physio exercises, seen a podiatrist, leading to the fitting of expensive orthotics (they are wonderful…. foot feels so much better when they are in place, and they are transferred to whatever I am wearing on my feet constantly)…. but there was still that nagging discomfort.
Early in April we went to the National Triathlon show at Lee Valley Velo Park (What a fab place!!) Whilst there we came across a stand promoting ‘massagetech’. It was tried out on my foot and Julie had some treatment on some whiplash. It helped both of us. By the end of the day we had purchased one. It was suggested that with daily use I would start to see improvement within about 2 weeks – I did! The problem is not solved completely, but it is so much better. The combined work of the orthotics and the massagetech have made a huge difference. So much so, that come the start of my sabbatical I thought I would start trying just a little gentle run – if the result was I was in absolute agony, well I didn’t have to worry about the difficulty of getting to appointments/meetings etc!
I was delighted to survive without any real different change in symptoms! The only problem was my major lack of run fitness! So much slower for same level of perceived effort and heart rate! Still, I wasn’t going to be silly, so I was going to follow the gradual build stuff… so just 3k first week, then 3 1/2, then 4 1/2 and then Tuesday I ran my first tempo 5k with a pace of 8:15 mileing. Pleasing considering the lack of training, but way below what I would expect for the effort.
Yesterday was the first Box End off-road triathlon of the year- couldn’t resist entering!
That’s me with the blue hat on!
It was great to compete again, though I knew I wasn’t going to be chasing folk down. Think I did reasonably well in the swim, as there were a progression of people who passed me on the bike, and then passed me on the run! It was a pleasure to cheer them on as they did so, as for me, it was just about getting back out there again…. but as well as getting some more running in, think I definitely need to do a bit of off road biking – boy that was hard work! (Well what do you expect when you haven’t cycled off-road since the last time you did a Box End tri last summer!!) Split times aren’t yet up, but here’s the overall results with me at 29th, not bad considering the amount of training gone in
If you’re interested in how I got on for the various parts, you can have a look at my Garmin trace. You’ll see there’s a very slow T1 (Transition 1 – from swim to bike). Putting the orthotics in my shoes means that sockless biking/running aren’t really options… putting socks on to damp feet is not a quick task… another technique to learn!!
Onwards and upwards. 🙂 The last few weeks have been a time of physical, mental and spiritual blessing. I’m more rested, even having done more physical exercise, including some long bike rides. I’ve lost a few pounds in weight – definitely a few more kilos to lose though. Some spiritual reflection to come in my next blog post!