Go big or stay at home

A fitting title for a fitting event, but not with the outcome you’d expect from some of my previous exploits. This time, I really am staying at home.

Well sort of anyway.

Rewind a little

2010 with the marmotte, hitting my weight goal, winning my first race, well it was a year to remember. In no small part, my performance was helped by the National Champion himself, Ryan Sherlock, and for that I’m grateful. Who knew were it would all end up.

Shortly after writing the year review, I developed some knee pain. At the time we put it down to the hard year. I had lost over 20kg by this point as well as having trained (hard) through the previous winter including some pretty insane mornings on 3 Rock in dense fog and ice. So after the month break it was left for another week or two to try get back into it. A physio trip helped things and it looked like that was it until the first week of training again and bam! Gone again.

That marked the end of the real training as I really couldn’t muster anything consistent. Trips to the physio helped and I would get a week or two without issue before it’d start going down hill again, but each time I’d never be back to the level of consistency I had before.

2011 Race Season

With the knee problem sort of bouncing around, the year started uneventful to say the least. Ok my first race was plagued by two punctures meaning I only got 7km or so, but otherwise the races I did do had me placing 7th or 8th, always just behind where I knew I could be. I did place 3rd in the Swords GP but that was about it. I’d missed quite a few races from waking up on the morning with a sore or weak knee too, and even more training than I could count.

An answer to the question you don’t want to ask

Eventually enough was enough, I’d done a few physio sessions, rested for longer periods, even done directed knee strengthening exercises without improvement. It was time for an MRI. I didn’t bother to self diagnose as I’d gotten it so well with my previous consultant visit on an unrelated matter.

Long story short, a visit to the sports clinic and a referral for the MRI revealed the issue. Micro tears in the meniscus above my patella. In short, I’d damaged the connectors of the muscles into my knee. But here was the real kicker. It wasn’t enough to warrant an operation, and I’d need to stay away from pain shots or I’d risk damaging enough to warrant an operation. Worse still, I was advised to go back training but strict instructions to watch the intensity level and pain. Pushing too hard would cause pain and possibly rip more. But if I do it right, it’ll heal by itself and come back to the normal level.

What it all means

In short, my training sucks. It is really difficult to get anything consistent out. Planning in advance doesn’t happen as I’m forever worried about damaging my knee further. I bounce between being perfectly fine somedays – to having pain while cycling which disappears when off the bike, to days like today where I’ve pain while not moving but none on the bike.

Admittedly this is a post I’ve written in many forms over the last year but never published. Probably because things change so quickly. I regularly switch between the days of great training and days were sitting around is a sore knee, and others when the knee is sore but I feel great after training. Really, a total mind jerk.

I’m still cycling, just not as much, often, or anywhere close to as hard as before. In reality, no racing up hills and no interval training, especially no interval training on hills. Normal people may think something like this is a god send however I strangely enjoy interval training on hills. Yes it is a painful, but the measured goals seem to work.

A day of new goals – aka What next

One thing I had been instructed to do was cross train and get my other muscles to build up. Strange as it may seem, this has meant running to improve a knee injury. Well it was that or swimming and I’d get a bit too wet while swimming.

With previous small steps in goals, I’ve signed up to the Dublin Marathon Series including the full Dublin Marathon. All after completing only a short 5 mile christmas run and some short training runs otherwise. Ok so that is a bit of an understatement, but then not really. It does mean upping the distance considerably but even starting a marathon training plan too.

Will I get back cycling? Yes hopefully. I do really intend that the increased endurance will help building on the longer cycles and I’ve a few 100km+ rides without knee pain completed as well. Time will tell.