Thursday, June 16, 2016

Coming back from sickness

I've been pretty fortunate throughout my seventeen years of racing triathlon. I have not had any significant injuries or long term sicknesses. Of course I've had the bumps and bruises of getting hit by a car (twice), the occasional Achilles flair up, plantar fascia, and the random cold. However, I've managed to steer clear of anything chronic by listening to my body and doing the proper maintenance throughout the year. Quick backstory: I grew up in the running boom of the late 70s/early 80s watching my father and his peers run themselves ragged. They all experienced injuries that would put them on the sidelines for significant amounts of time. So I promised myself that I would not make the same mistakes. My four main principles to longevity in the sport are: 1. Stay healthy 2. Stay consistent 3. Train properly 4. Have fun My approach to staying healthy has been to have a consistent recovery routine, a supplement plan, and try my best for optimal sleep. My recovery routine consists of a weekly sports massage. This really helps me bounce back from hard races and workouts in addition to being preventive for any potential chronic injuries. I also use my Normatec boots during the race season and from time to time I will use my Compex muscle stimulator (although I haven't really committed to this yet). For my supplement plan, I try to get my bloodwork done twice a year to see where my deficiencies lie. Then I put together a plan of action with my nutritionist for a proper supplement plan to address my areas of need. I have been using Standard Process products for my supplement needs since 2009. The company has been around since 1929 and uses a whole food philosophy. Finally, but definitely not least, sleep has become especially important for me as my chronical age has increased. I used to be able to get away with five to six hours of sleep a night, commute two hours each way to work and still train pretty hard. Now, I find that I need at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night combined with my fifteen minute commute to/from work each day in order to train optimally. Here's my quick story on the start to my 2016 season. I had a really good winter base training that included a major swim focus and a maintenance strength focus. My aerobic engine felt strong. I had set myself up for a solid transition to the build phase of my annual training plan. However, I had made a decision at the beginning of the year that I would stop taking all of my supplements for the first three months of the year. I made that decision because I wanted to try to focus on trying to eat as healthy as I could and see how my body would react. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bad decision in hindsight. I believe it allowed my immune system to become suppressed. On Monday, March 7th I was diagnosed with shingles. I had been experiencing the symptoms for nine days at the time, but I had been in denial until I just could not stand the pain anymore. My wife finally talked me into going to the walk in clinic. The doctor diagnosed my condition within ten seconds of seeing my rash on my lower back and right thigh. I explained to her that the pain was two pronged. I felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my right quad and I had a deep bone bruise. The second and much more annoying pain was an intense neuron firing on the skin where the rash had appeared. It felt like I was being bitten by a thousand fire ants all at once. The pain would come and go, but when it came it was absolutely brutal! The doctor prescribed anti-viral meds and informed me that I could not train at all for ten days. At first I did not want to follow her advice, but when she told me that I was at risk for a potential serious infection if my rash opened up I quickly accepted the time out. This was the first significant in-season forced break that I had taken since I started in 2000. Unfortunately, sometimes it pours when it rains. I started training again slowly after my ten day break. I was trying to be smart and not push my comeback to quickly. However, my immune system must have still been really low and I came down with a bronchial infection that I think I picked up from the kids. Normally, my immune system is pretty strong throughout the year and I rarely catch anything from the kids, but I was forced to take another break to let my body recover. The second setback really challenged my mental strength. I really struggled with my motivation all through the month of April. The warm weather finally came to the Northeast in May and my motivation slowly started to return. The inconsistency of my training had put my fitness back to my normal January levels. Fortunately, I had planned my lightest race season since my first year racing. I have only five races on the docket for 2016: REV3 Quassy, Griskus Olympic, Griskus Sprint, 70.3 Timberman, and Kona. I am now looking forward to building my fitness and the privilege of being able to participate in these endurance events.

1 comment:

  1. I've found that, as I get into my 30s, I perform better after I've gotten a good night's sleep. And that doesn't always mean getting 8 hours either, but rather, sleeping sound throughout the night. Investing in a quality mattress that ensures a good rest is something I definitely recommend!

    Leonardo @ U.S. Healthworks Medical Group