Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What a pain in the neck…

I’ve been training pretty hard for just over six weeks now and I am starting to have a few aches and pains and minor setbacks.  My friend Andrew’s college coach would tell them that it is normal to always have some little nagging aches and pains when you are training hard, and I suppose that is a reasonable state of mind: sometimes you just have to push through.  That “push through it” mentality can be an endurance athlete’s best friend of their worst enemy.  It can be hard to differentiate between “push through it” pain and the pain that you listen to (overuse injuries).

Here’s a run-down of what might be ailing me at the moment:

  • My lower back was a huge issue last year but I think that we’ve finally found an answer: it has been a combination of physical therapy, bike fit, massage & acupuncture, and awareness while on the bike.  Now if my back starts getting sore I immediately slide forward on the saddle, drop a gear, and focus on spinning from my hips.  So far, so good.
  • My right foot has had a whole host of issues over the years – a collapsed arch in college, which led to knee problems; then a stress reaction and a tendon strain two years ago … a history of problems here makes me especially wary of “new pain in an old spot.”  But I noticed some soreness here after my first 4-5 forty-mile weeks so I backed off a bit.  After a few days of rest (by which I mean swimming and running “only”) the pain seems to be mostly gone.  Sweet.  I also had this checked out by my army of medical support personnel.
  • My neck and shoulder started getting tight as I built up my swim volume in Austin.  I worked through a period of low motivation and rediscovered my love of swimming, then strained my neck/shoulder in what feels like an overuse incident.  Lame.  Once again I am backing off on some specific aspect of my training and trying to do all that I can to let it heal.

I like to think that we all get injured sooner or later and that our mental and physical responses to such injuries are an opportunity to outperform our competitors, as they will surely face their own share of aches and pains, too.

Tonight I will hit the (running) track for my first speedwork of the 2010 campaign.  I hope that my neck and foot and back don’t give me too much trouble, thereby letting me focus on the trouble being dished out by the other guys on the track.  Yay!!

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