At the best of times I’m not a ‘Strongman’, I’ve got reasonable cyclists legs and I try to cultivate a cyclist’s physique on my upper half – that is to say my arms are good at climbing mountains on a bike, but not for climbing them on a rope. Yet, despite this, at the point of being asked, it seemed like a totally sensible thing to agree to, saying Yes to entering the Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run at the Nurgburgring in May.
Of course I was invited and agreed well before I broke my bones, putting the brakes firmly on my running training so this rest was never in my plans, and is probably slightly less than ideal preparation for a 24km obstacle course run! 24km is longer than I’ve ever run before, with my biggest distance being about 18km – although that didn’t have obstacles in the way!
But life is for living and all that, so there was no way I was going to pull out, after all is said I done, I want the t-shirt!
The very thought of this makes me smile, just so much awesome going on right here, and very different to the Transcontinental race, not so much in terms of distance, but in languages spoken and cultures seen.
After 6 weeks I’ve finally managed to get out for a run – long overdue and sorely needed! But I sit here, buzzing with endorphins that have been absent for too darned long!
In those 6 weeks the most strenuous thing I have done has been the washing up, and at times even that has been painful. Sudden movements, carrying objects out of balance, moving from drops to hoods, all of these have brought pain, so you can imagine the nervousness that was there about running.
But after finishing work BANG ON time, and rushing back to my hut to lace up, I managed to get out with the sun still above the horizon to raise my heart beat.
Since breaking my collarbone and rib it’s gone from early Feb to late March and what a difference it makes. The last time I was running there was snow, whereas this time I got to see the scenery around me for the first time – and by golly it is nice!
Enough to raise the pulse, test the legs again and get the measure of my limbs.
All seems to be in working order but there are definite niggles from the whole left side shoulder area, from the tricep right up to the (incredibly knotty) shoulder, and through to the back. All is still not well in that area.
I spoke with a GP today, one who has broke both collarbones no-less, and he was a little surprised at the height at which the clavicle stump protruded – he went on to talk about stuff which was very long and certainly Latin-sounding, when I awoke he summarised it as bruising and time being the great healer.
During the run it was clear that running on more compacted surfaces was problematic. I was wearing adidas adizero XT trail shoes which had awesome grip in the mud and decent levels of cushioning when running on solid tracks, but it was evident that a smooth running stride was needed to avoid discomfort.
Post-run and the shoulder area was stiffer than a day-old cornflake, evidence of it’s cosseted life over the last few weeks, clearly there’s work to be done here.
But, the headline news is that I can run again, this is something that fills me with great joy! With the Fisherman’s friend Strongman run (oh the ruddy irony here) in May it’s great to be able to be in a position where I can work on strength, speed, and endurance again.
I got approached a while ago about working with Maxinutrition in 2015 to work towards a specific fitness-related goal, this was an opportunity to see how the experts at Maxi’ could help me towards a goal, capturing the journey by using #MyGoal to document it.
The goal was simple, lose 50% of my body fat by the summer, in preparation for the Transcontinental race.
It’s not massively stretching either in it’s reach or scope, I have more than enough body fat on me to spare the 50%, in theory I should have been on to a winner!
The first month saw slow, but steady progress, losing between 2 and .75% each week, with a total loss by the end of the first 6 weeks of about 8%. Not massive, but notable for sure!
Then came my bike crash, and with it a couple of problems towards #mygoal.
First and foremost was the complete and utter stop to any and all forms of exercise, through both the lack of movement in the arm, but also the broken rib preventing deeper breathing (fairly important in exercise!).
In tandem with decreased movement and increased pain was a struggle with my diet, it simply became very hard to do such simple things as open a tin (tuna) or peel an avocado as the mobility was really impaired (although I think possibly I took an easy option with this to some extent!)
6 weeks after my accident and I am fairly certain my body fat has gone back up again, coupled with the loss of muscle from zero exercise and I find myself back at the start again. I’ve a variety of cycling and running challenges ahead over the coming months and to be at all competitive I need to drop that timber again.
I’m still an out-patient with the orthopaedic consultant and the physiotherapy department at the hospital, but the time is right to start to ride and run again, and as the shoulder regains its strength it will be time for kettle bells to lose fat/add muscle.
So it’s time to repledge #mygoal
10% body fat by the ed of June 2015 – thanks in advance to Maxinuttriton for their support!
You’ll remember from your youth the anecdotal story of the drunk guy who got hit by a car (every town had one), but was so drunk he didn’t realise, just bounced and got back up again and carried on walking, While this story is clearly a slight exaggeration it’s founded in truth, in that a person whose sense are impaired (and alcohol will do that folks) will be unable to react as quickly to impending danger as a fully functioning person. What this means is that the sober person would tense up prior to impact and would take the impact harder, and come off worse than the drunken chap.
Why do I start this piece by telling a story of alcohol and science? Well the logic also holds true that when about to crash a bike to go loose, just roll with it – literally – and don’t (whatever you do) put that arm down to cushion the blow of a high-speed impact. However, whilst this logic sounds good in theory, and we all know it in our heart of hearts, in reality it is a totally different kettle of fish!
But rewind, start a little earlier.
My daily commute takes me through Thursley, a quiet village complete with obligatory pub, a handful of roads and a cricket square. Like many villages near main roads it has suffered from its exploitation in the past as a rat-run, with speed-bumps being the logical conclusion. As you exit the village you head toward the cover of trees as the road twists its way downhill.
The slope is nothing too extreme, the Garmin tells me everyday that its around 8-10%, but coming as it does with its twists, and after a downhill through the village, there’s normally a number beginning with either a 3 or a 4 on the km/hr screen.
I do, rather, I did, the hill twice a day, once in the morning on the commute and once in the evening to give me extra climbing practise, so I feel like I’m fairly comfortable with it, I’m aware of its nuances and bends, knowing as I do that I can take those initial turns with a 3 or 4 as the starting number.
Except. Not this time.
There’s no warning, nothing sets off the spider-sense, there’s no giveaway sign. Then time does this funny trick.
It speeds up, the senses heighten, and time seems to slow down at the same time.
It starts with the realisation that your front tyre has slipped out from in front of you, and you are heading towards the ground at a speed you would REALLY rather not be.
And for some reason, despite everything you know about the drunken man, everything you’ve ever heard on Eurosport, all that damn common sense you normally apply to every part of your life it’s all out the window and instinct kicks in and you stick your arm down, to cushion the fall – cushion. the . fall…. at 35km/hr
It’s the wrong decision.
You know this within a fraction of a second, something seems wrong in your shoulder. But you are too busy with the very conscious thought that you are super glad you’re wearing your helmet as first it strikes on the left, then you find yourself hitting the other side of your head on the ground (there’s an actual moment of cognition that you’ve turn a full spin as part of the impact “cool”). You feel the ground brush your face, nothing too severe, but enough to know that you’ve definitely lost a tooth!
And then comes the slide to a halt, metres from where you started.
First thing is to check your bike, it’s there, nothing having snapped off – thats good – closer inspection reveals many bad things, but that’s for later. Then clothing, oh dammit, you’ve shredded your new (3 rides old) Gabba jacket, and your tights, and your gloves, in fact the only thing that will survive the day will be the shoes and socks you are wearing #sadtimes. Then, and only then does the pain begin to register. But first you crawl to the side of the road, almost bouncing in shock. Then the realisation that you are totally winded as you fight for breath, the shock of the crack hitting you.
Once the breathing has returned you sit to the side of the road, helped there by the really helpful white-van-man who was first on-scene.
The pain is acute now, there is a good measure of road rash on the hip, the knees, the elbows are bleeding, but first there’s that shoulder again, and now the immediate shock of what has happened is over the body starts to shout, SHOUT, at you. Your tongue checks the mouth, there’s 2 teeth missing significant chunks – wifey is going to be very unhappy (and she was indeed!)
That shouting again, oh bugger, your arm has gone to feel the source of the pain, and it’s that collarbone that bore the brunt of the first impact, and it’s clearly not in the right position. It’s snapped like a crumpled chain stay, as your hand runs its way over it the fingers reveal a sorry story, and the very first thought is a bad one – tomorrow’s holiday ( a trip to Mt Ventoux no-less) is going to be cancelled, wifey is going to be really unhappy, and the kids will take it badly.
The ambulance soon arrives, and as soon as you start to move ou realise there’s more bad news, but it’s news you’ve had before; you’ve broken a rib – that explains why breathing is so painfull. This compounds the hospital ride gloom further, Dowsett was back on his turbo with 3 days of breaking his collarbone, but a broken rib will mean a much bigger lay-off than that. Transcontinental training, which started so well with a successful Rapha Festive 500, has come to a very abrupt pause, certainly less than ideal.
Hospital X-rays reveal 2 broken bones, it’s funny how the body knows these things already, the prescription is painkillers and rest. No riding on the road for 6 weeks – #supersadtimes
Conversations are had, kids are told – there are tears – but plans are made to get back on the bike asap, despite the pain, it’s absolutely worth the sleepless nights and the cracking coughs
p.s – bit of a plug here….further inspection revealed significant damage to frame, components, and attire. My insurers BikmoPlus sorted it and the cash to cover it all was with me within 6 days from crash! Thanks guys