Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Beginning...

Watching England crash out of The World Cup has reminded me that painful though these things are, they bring with them a moment of epiphany that can ultimately be much more rewarding than simply struggling on.

As far as the football goes, the simple fact is that we weren't good enough.  Our players are drained from an exhausting schedule playing in the toughest league in the world and the manager continued to play a system which was palpably not working.  So we crashed out and I've been left confused and angry as to why we didn't put up a better show.

But once that anger has subsided I am left hopeful that an opportunity can be seized to change things once and for all.  What better time than now to rebuild the system, clear out the dead wood of the old players and bring in a fresh manager with  new ideas - someone who can undertake a root and branch revision of the way we do our international footballing business.  Sir Clive Woodward as performance director working alongside Roy Hodgson's management?  I tell you what, say what you want about it but I guarantee that we'd do a hell of a lot better in four years time under that management team.  However,  I doubt, in this case, that the nettle will be grasped.

In life too we can re-invent ourselves at moments of perceived weakness.  I'm convinced that this continual revision of goals and methods is a fundamental part of keeping life interesting and fresh.

I figure I have the opportunity to do just that whilst I'm re-habing from my achilles injury.  It's a great opportunity to look back at what I've been doing and look ahead to what I might want to do in the future.  Do I want to continue with Ironman?  Perhaps more swimming?  Perhaps more 'event' cycling?  How am I training?  Could my train/work/family balance be better?  Lots of challenging questions and opportunity for revision.

We shall see.

In the meantime there are signs of slight improvement on the injury.  I am three and a half weeks into the twelve week plan and, whilst I still can't jog on the achilles, it is now showing signs of strengthening due to the repetition of the eccentric exercises that I've been doing.  I figure that this strengthening is part of the healing process and am focussing on these positives rather than being concerned with what I can't do.  I actually had a dream the other night that I could run again.  What a day it will be when I can.

Anyway... time to rush on and do a bit of re-invention.  Waiting to hear back from some literary agents about my book but am not holding my breath.  I don't have enough rejection letters yet to be considered a serious author!  Work is ticking over but it seems as if everyone is in some kind of World Cup/Heatwave torpor.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

They wanted me to go to Re-hab...

 ... and I said, 'yeah, yeah, yeah'...

So, we're exactly a week into the programme and here's an update on how its going.  I started by engaging in the exercises that physio JD had given me.  These consisted of stretching the achilles and calf for a minute or so, then performing warm up exercises by rising on both sets of toes.  Once warmed up I was then to do some light eccentric calf drops - demonstration by someone else here.

But the achilles wasn't calming down.  It continued to be aggravated and tender.  So I've decided to cut right back on all exercising of the injury until I get rid of the tenderness.  Three or four days later, it's improving.  But now I've made the decision to re-hab I'm not in any rush.  It will heal when it heals.  The key is to let it heal.

Swimming's still going on though and I'm doing a mix of pool and open water swimming.  Along with some weights, stretching and core it's keeping me sane.

I'm enjoying the time I have around the house, and the girls are enjoying having me around.  We had a car boot sale for Erin's trip to Mongolia last sunday and raised £ 152.  Good going I think and something I really enjoyed doing with my family - something I wouldn't have had the chance to do if I was training.

I'm shooting on Friday - a video for TNT - which will take my mind of these early days of not training.  We've also got the World Cup coming up which I can't wait for.

I've caught up with some good movies too.  Watched THE VISITOR last night, a great US Indie and hugely recommended as a touching, character based drama.   We watched WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE as a family and the girls loved it.  Other movies have included AN EDUCATION, MOON and PUBLIC ENEMIES.  I'm fully intending to get back to the movies on a more regular basis.

So, in short, all is well with the world.  I'm optimistic, as ever.

And if you can't be optimistic, what's the point in going on.

Come on England !!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A Line in the Sand...

That's what my physio told me yesterday. 

"We have to draw a line in the sand," he said. 

And, reluctantly, I knew he was right.

My achilles injury has been going on for too long now.  I have, in no particular order, tried the following treatments to help clear it up.  Massage, manipulation, achilles bowing, icing, compression, elevation, heat treatment, cold-freeze treatment, deep-penetration massage oil treatment, graston manipulation, chiropractic intervention, gait analysis and orthotic inserts, heel lifts and pads, running shoe cutaways, acupuncture,  stretching, eccentric loading, extended heel raises, weight bearing exercises, balance boards, strapping (you name the tape, I've used it), anti-inflammatories (both ibuprofen and diclofenac) and almost anything else you could care to mention.

So please; I hope you'll understand if I ask you not to suggest treatments.   Simply put, barring surgical intervention I have done everything I can to right this wrong.  And I have no intention of embarking on surgery around the achilles area.  None whatsoever.

Following an ultrasound scan last Friday I was told I had the following:  'The achilles is thickened, heterogeneous in its appearance and shows significant hyperaemia indicating a Grade 3 tendinopathy.'  It went on to mention an 'ultrasound guided pre-Achilles injection' as possibly being of use. 

Wonderful!  Fantastic!  Amazing!  I had a miracle cure.  Only... I didn't.  Despite so wanting to believe that the magic cortisone bullet would be fired from the syringe into my ailing achilles and a fully restored Ironman would in a few weeks be pounding his marathon around the streets of Zurich - I've been forced to do something I don't do too often or too well in my life. 

I've been forced to listen.

Prevailing medical opinion is that steroid injections into the achilles are dangerous.  They lead to a significant increase in the risk of achilles rupture.  In case you're in any doubt, this is a bad thing.  Who says?  Well, pretty much everyone.  My physio, JD, is an Ironman and physiotherapist to the GB Olympic Triathlon and Badminton squads.  He says so.  My mate Gabriel is a sub 10 Ironman and noted vascular surgeon.  He says so.  My club mate Chris Herman is a GP and Half Ironman.  He says so.  My chiropractor, John Williamson, is an ex international sprinter and top class rugby player.  He says so. 

I could go on.  But frankly, what's the point of asking these people if I'm going to disregard what they say.  To a man they all advise rest and a structured process of rehabilitation as being the best way forward.

So that's what I'm going to do. 

You seen the only thing I haven't done over the past few months is accepted that I have serious injury and given myself over to a structured rehab program which will last for 12 weeks.

Unfortunately that means no Ironman Switzerland this year for me. 

But just as I have to HTFU (for those of you unversed in such niceties, this stands for 'Harden The F**k Up) in Ironman races and battle through all manner of adverse problems, now I have to treat my ongoing athletic career as a race in itself.  I need to HTFU and make the tough decision to take a breather.  This is a long race and I'm not even halfway through it.  If I pull up now, rest awhile and take my penalty box medicine, I'll get back on the bike and be stronger, faster and ultimately more successful for the rest of the race.  (sorry for the tortuous Ironman analogies but it all makes perfect sense to me and will do to most of the triathletes reading this).

I am turning this into a positive. 

Watch me.

I'm going to re-charge my batteries, stay fit and focus on the future.  See... I've started already.

And finally.  Please.  No sympathy.  This is a minor issue.  People are dying.  Families lose loved ones.  Hopes and dreams are regularly dashed by unforseen events. 

I am a super-fit, healthy middle-aged bloke with a great life and an irritating injury.  That's all.  Let's get these things into perspective.

Thanks for still being here on the journey.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a leg to stretch.