All Our Bruised Bodies

I have a fan club! An official, unofficial fan club. Made of real people. Thank you very much fan club for the donation – I strongly suspect I know who’s behind this one but I don’t want to point fingers.

Apologies for the delayed post. There was no massive social event that overrun until work o’clock in the morning this time, just a very important league race that was opening for signup and usually sells out pretty swiftly, so I donned my captain’s hat – not to self, mount a tricorn on top of your aero helmet – I spent all afternoon on Facebook trying to get people to enter. My fingers cramped; at one point, my laptop keyboard decided to no longer type the letter A. As an IT professional I’m not ashamed to say I fixed this by pounding my fist on the approximate area of the keyboard and muttering swear words until it worked. You’d be surprised at what this approach can fix.

Moving on.

I’m going to be a shit-hot cyclist by the end of February, I’ve decided. Countless hours of turbo sessions per week in my sauna of a studio pain cave, plus one long hilly bike ride – where I’m not allowed to remove bum from saddle, no matter how steep the hill – on the weekends through Britain’s fine winter adversity? Come spring, and everyone will be marveling at my Herculean thighs while I speed past them on my Shimano Claris groupset, 14 gears and half a ton road bike. I will need to invest in some new cycling attire to better match the yellow jersey that will be handed to me to hold forevermore. This is what’s going to happen.

See? I’ve got this staying positive thing down to an art. An art, I tell you.

The week:

Monday: 30 mins cycling, 1 hr 30 mins swimming
Tuesday: 1 hr turbo
Wednesday: 40 mins swimming
Thursday: 1 hr turbo
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: 2 hrs brick (cycling/running), plus 30 mins each way cycling there and back
Sunday: 1 hr 30 mins swimming

Yes, there is a brick session on there. A brick session that involves running. Running that I’m not meant to be doing, because of my achilles. Those of you who have been paying attention know that this does not have a happy ending.

Let’s rewind to Saturday morning. After weeks of turbo training, despite being a little grouchy from a lack of sleep, I finally got take take Agro to visit the great outdoors. Oh, how exciting it was – if you like horror movies, and the theme ground rides that make other people sick. Riding a TT bike for the first time through London’s weekend traffic – when you also have a turbo strapped to your back with two shoelaces – is terrifying. it’s the ultimate thrill ride. I lost count of how many heart attacks I had getting there. Oh sweet Jesus, how close does this idiot in the van want to pass? I could punch his window out if he gets any closer. Don’t you dare touch my baby. Not going to lie – as soon as I hit Battersea Park, I got on the aero bars. Vroom frickin’ vroom. So that’s what that feels like.

Brick was a silly idea. I went partly because I was getting a bit sick of being stuck on the turbo in my room by myself, and fancied some company; and partly because I knew that I wouldn’t be back in time from a long bike ride to get to my physio appointment; and partly because I just really enjoy a good brick session. The achilles, as of Saturday morning, felt kind of alright, and had for a couple of days (I should not have put as much stock in this as I did); as it turns out at brick, a lot of people have achilles problems at the moment. Must be going around, winter illness and all that. I wasn’t set on running during the session but ended up doing some laps, albeit at a slower pace than I generally would have. Compared to a pavement, running on an actual running track feels like running on a bed of cushions, so everything felt wonderful (apart from the sweating and grunting and etc).

My new physio was far less impressed by my brick efforts that I had been. She didn’t outright say it, but there was definitely a look in her eyes that suggested she thought I had a far lower IQ than I estimate myself at when I was recounting the morning’s events. I’m assuming this is the reason for the acupuncture and the poking and the prodding and all the other painful things, because if she can do that to someone when they’re paying her for it I’d be terrified to see her actually pissed off. No-one ever thinks of physios as scary people. I’m terrified to go back next week.

The upshot of all of this is no running for 2-3 weeks, wear trainers to work, ice 3 times a day, ibuprofen twice a day and a set of strengthening and rehab exercises that look like they were thought up in a pre-natal class.

Here’s where I start getting unimpressed. Obviously, Worthing Half Marathon is out. I still have completely failed to do a race with Goodgym, and won’t get another chance to do so until 2017 probably. Also I have re-entered myself into the yearly singleton’s struggle of trying to find something interesting to do on Valentine’s Day that isn’t hiding under a duvet and swallowing cookie dough/several bottles of something alcoholic that you can’t quite read the language on the label, but it’s close enough to feel like you can make an educated guess. It being a day before Worthing, the last XC fixture of the year is also a dud, so I’ve failed in my efforts to at least finish one of those anytime soon. Finally, a planned series of visits to the GSK Human Performance Labs is in serious peril. Free lactate threshold/VO2 max testing, enough money to pay off my accommodation for Sweden, and a shiny new sports watch that I planned to auction and put the funds towards my charity fundraising. I can’t decide if I’m more fucked off about this one or Worthing.

The massive sense of humour failure arrived around the time I finished watching The Wolf of Wall Street (sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that no matter your mood, there will always be someone you can despise more than yourself). After a week where I had made a genuine effort to eat healthier, I gave up and made burgers that had peanut butter in them because even the thought of salad was just very irritating. I made so many that I couldn’t finish them. This is a very mature response from a very mature man.

Even having published a series of very open blogs about things I have done in the past, it is still very hard for me to talk about depressive feelings right now in the present without it feeling like some kind of cry for sympathy. Honesty’s weird like that. But, if you want to do the whole awareness raising thing, that’s kind of what you have to do, so here it is: I feel shit. I pretty much loathe the way I dealt with this because it could have been so much better, done so much more sensibly. I managed to keep myself busy enough yesterday to not really be able to think about it much, but that approach only works for so long. You can’t distract yourself forever. Honestly, just writing about it is pissing me off again.

If anything, this whole episode has exposed the one big flaw in this grand Ironman shindig. When they say that generally you should have a few years of triathlons under your belt before going for an Ironman, it’s not a fitness thing. Physically, I have the fitness to do one (I think), or am in a position where I’m pretty sure I can get there by August – yes, even the swimming bit. What I lack is the athletic know-how that comes with years of competing – how to deal with regimented training plans, what to do when it goes off-piste. I wasn’t a sporty kid. Barring the slightly horrific incident of self-harm that ended my kickboxing, I’ve never had a significant injury preventing me from sportsing to deal with. I don’t know how to manage that, and I’ve proved it by not going to the physio any time earlier in the previous three weeks and instead just hoping that hopping about on one leg will allow the other to rest. Body don’t work that way, apparently.

Clearly I have some learning to do – about what my body can’t and can’t handle, and about how I, going to better prepare to deal with routine setbacks, because I sincerely doubt this is the only knock I’m going to have to contend with through this process. If there’s anything I can take from this, it’s how to better manage injury in the future. I can kind of console myself that I won’t be quite so naive again (he says, confidently). In the meantime, I have more time than anticipated to get my swimming closer to scratch and my cycling at an acceptable level before the next dreaded FTP test.

I was going to add some more humourous anecdotes to this post, like one about cleaning my bike in the shower (sorry housemates), or having my swimming technique being thoroughly dissected by a guy with one leg in the pool who reminded me of a pirate (sorry ego). If I’m honest, I just don’t have the energy for it right now. I’d quite like to go to bed for about 72 hours. But hey, why do that when there’s a 3.4k Monday swim set to be done? I guess it’s all just part of the lifestyle I’ve chosen for myself. No excuses and all that.

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Also, part of the reason I’m doing this is to raise funds and awareness for The Maytree Respite Centre, a small charity in North London that provides support for people going through a suicidal crisis – so if you’d like to support my fundraising efforts, please click here. Thanks so much!

One response to “All Our Bruised Bodies

  1. One step at a time. You’re getting there, and you’re right – it’s not a fitness thing to complete an Ironman (he says having never completed one!) but as much a mental fight to do what you need to do and manage what you need to manage. It sounds like you’re putting the right effort in the right areas though, and come race day you won’t think you are ready on that start line, you’ll know and you’ll be able to enjoy it rather than fight it. You got this.

    Liked by 1 person

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