It's been a tough few weeks for the Athletic Powerhouse. I've felt a malaise that is unfamiliar to me; a feeling that all is not as it should be in the universe.
I got a bit gun shy after my ill-timed return to the pool, and spent the next week and a half trying to figure out whether the pain had become good, healing pain, or whether it was still raw, recovery pain.
This week though, I've started to turn the corner. I'm back in the saddle, even if for now, it's only short stints at home on the mag trainer. It doesn't sound like much, but if the truth be known, it's been tough even getting to this stage.
Since my crash, I've felt really out of sorts in general. It's almost as if part of my identity has been stripped.
(Case in point, my only weekend outings for two weekends in a row has been to the local shops. Those who know me best know that normally, I'd rather stick a pencil in my eye.)
I had begun to wonder how I'd get my identity back, and more to the point, when I would be able to start this journey.
On impulse, on one of these trips to the shops, I bought Dean Karnazes journal of running 50 marathons in 50 days. I don't know why, I rarely get time to read these days, but maybe that was the point. Right now, I do have some time on my hands. Even though I couldn't do much through physical training, maybe the athlete in me would gain something by reading about 'the secrets of super endurance'.
I've read about a third of the book, and so far I am inspired to recapture the joy of running that this running legend seems to have in buckets. Given my current situation, this is a story for another day.
Last Saturday was the start of the turning point. I finally had the chance to catch up with my coach at the Tre-X off road triathlon. I gave him an update on my progress, including my doctor's prognosis of cracked ribs, and my disastrous attempt at swimming.
He reminded me that any exercise I can do will help get blood into my injured area, and ultimately help me heal. Even stretching would be beneficial.
Quite by coincidence, I had another conversation, with a complete stranger, that also got me thinking. She told me of her husband, who cracked his ribs while training for an Ironman. He couldn't swim, he couldn't run. He could get on his mag trainer though, so that's what he did. He did what he could, and on race day, he got through.
On Sunday, that's what I did. I got on my bike, on the home trainer. I did an hour, which, for a weekend session, felt like nothing. I had a little pain when I breathed hard, but nothing serious. After my trip to the pool, when everything felt worse afterward, I wasn't keen to push it. An hour would do, for today.
The recovery was fine, so I did the same thing on Tuesday. So far, so good.
Today, Friday, I had the same plan. I woke early, but fell back asleep almost immediately. It's been a long held belief of mine to listen to your body, and if you fall back to sleep in the morning, or sleep through your alarm, there's a reason for it.
When I woke up properly, I had time for a stretch before work. For the first time since the crash, I felt like I had enough freedom of movement to benefit from stretching.
My rib cage, though, didn't understand this benefit. It didn't like the yoga mat I usually stretch on. Granted, beneath the yoga mat are hard, cold tiles. Usually it’s fine, but in my current state, the slight padding the yoga mat provides just didn't cut it. I didn't expect this. I've been sleeping reasonably well, though sometimes it still takes some time to get comfortable.
Again, I persevered, and managed to release off my glutes, hamstrings and ITB with my trusty trigger ball. The discomfort I felt in my torso was worth it – I felt like a million bucks after just half an hour of stretching.
I can’t say I’ve made it back, not yet, but I’m definitely turning the corner.