This is a pretty cool video that encapsulates the day last weekend. Some pretty emotional moments in here!
One really nice touch is that the last person shown in the video as finishing (the one bent double) was actually 8 minutes over the 17 hour time limit so technically was not entitled to a finishers medal - however she got one anyway. The person putting the medal around her neck was the woman’s elite race winner Meredith Kessler - and it was her own medal she was giving away! And the big guy standing right next to her giving her the finishers towel was Marko Albert the men’s elite race winner.
(And my race report is coming soon…probably this weekend!)
Before I launch into a bit more detail about the taper, first an update on the infamous right calf muscle. Following my very scientific diagnosis of a minor strain last week, I followed the prescribed course of action - being the RICE method.
All of the above are very good for soft tissue injuries and will help speed up the healing process. Now I’m not normally known for doing what is good for me, but on this occasion and given how close it was to Ironman day I needed to do this. So as hard as it was, for this past week I laid off the running (mostly) and focussed more on the bike and swim elements. (Ironically this past week was my highest volume in terms of bike kilometres ridden which would not have happened if I had been running too.)
This is a picture of how my calf looked most of this past week…
When I say it was hard, I mean that I knew that I had an injury that needed time to heal but running is now so ingrained in my psyche that not doing it felt very odd when apart from my calf I felt in fantastic shape! Patience has never been a strong virtue of mine so it was a very long week!!
I got to Friday which was a week after the original injury and I decided to test it out and see how it felt. My plan was just a very light, slow jog around Victoria Park for about 20 minutes. I had 20 minutes as the target but in my mind I knew that I’d know within the first minute whether it was improving or not. And those first few strides were very tentative but the pain wasn’t bad (more discomfort than pain) so I kept on going. I stopped after about 1/2 a kilometre to do some stretching and then kept going. I ended up doing 25 minutes at a very slow pace but afterwards it felt OK - about 60% right. I waited until Sunday and then tried it again for a slightly longer time - about 35 minutes. Where there had been discomfort on Friday, it was replaced with some tightness and I was able to keep on without having to stop and stretch like I had the other day. The only thing that approached discomfort was when I went down a slight slope, but that passed. As of Sunday, I’d say the calf was about 75% right.
So it’s looking promising that I’ll get to Ironman as close to 100% as possible. This coming week I’ll continue to take it very easy and not push the pace too much and reassess again at the end of the week.
Phew!!! Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk tapering!
So I have now entered the Taper period! There are 2 ways that people react during this 2 week period…
There is quite a common misconception out there that the taper period is where all training drops practically to zero and the intensity is very easy. That isn’t fully accurate. Yes the overall volume does drop when compared to what was being done up until that point but for at least the first week of the taper the intensity is still kept at a high level - in other words the effort is the same but the overall time will be lower. It’s the second week of the taper where the intensity level drops as you start to save yourself for Ironman day.
It is also very common for some athlete’s to become irritable, feel lethargic, or feel anxious during the taper. This is because when you go from swimming, biking, and running at high volumes for an extended period down to a reduced volume, your body rebels as it’s used to doing more. There is also a reduction in calories being burned which means some people feel like they’re putting on weight. All of this is normal and will have the ultimate effect of turning up on race day rested, refreshed, and ready to put all the weeks of effort in training to the ultimate test.
So to all of my family, my co-workers, and even the guy who drives like a nut and cuts me off on my way to work - I apologise in advance! I may not be the most pleasant person to be around for the next 2 weeks… :)
But what it means that come March 1, I’ll be ready to rock!!!
12 days to go…
A calf muscle strain is a partial or complete tear of the small fibers of the muscles. The calf muscles are located in the back of your lower leg.
The Calf Muscles
I think it’s fair to say that in the past 48 hours, I’ve done a lot of reading up about calf muscles and in particular what can cause calf strains and the expected recovery time.
If I’m being truthful, I think I’ve been very lucky up until this point with the body and how it has coped pretty well with the training. Aside from achy tired muscles, there haven’t been any niggles or anything of the like to slow me down. So it could be said something was due to happen…and from my perspective I’m glad it happened 3 weeks out instead of 1 week out from Ironman!
So how did it happen? I went out for a run on Thursday morning - nothing too major just an hour - and towards the end of it I started to feel a little discomfort in my right calf muscle. Nothing major and I put it down to a bit of stiffness that would resolve itself when I stopped. And it seemed to be that as I was walking around normally not long afterwards and there were no side effects, so I didn’t think anything more of it.
Saturday comes and the plan was to swim for about an hour and then go for a 2 hour run right afterwards. The swim went fine but as soon as I started running, the discomfort from the run on Thursday returned and as I ran up a hill it started to turn into real pain. I stopped and stretched it out a little and that seemed to do the trick for a bit, but the pain returned so I decided to play it safe and pull the pin on the run after 30 minutes - which unusually is very sensible of me!
I got home and immediately iced it and then started putting anti-inflam on it as well as wearing a compression sock. And then I jumped on the net to do some research. I discovered that there are 3 grades of strain
Being the qualified physician that I am, I immediately self diagnosed that it was a Grade 1 strain. The foundation for my “diagnosis” was that the pain appeared to be at the low end of the scale and it didn’t really impact me being able to move around and walk normally. I’ve had strains before where walking was an issue and this didn’t feel as bad as those so I figured I was on fairly solid ground. The expected recovery time for a Grade 1 is 7-10 days and it is recommended that sports like running are avoided during this time….great!!
Luckily for me, this injury does not affect my ability to ride a bike or swim so for the next week I will be doing a lot more of both to compensate for the lack of running. Fitness wise, if I don’t run for a week then it shouldn’t have too big an impact as all of the hard work has been done up to this point. From this point to the end, there aren’t any major runs that need to be done so I’m not missing out on anything. Timing wise it isn’t fantastic but it could be a lot worse…a hell of a lot worse!!