A slow recovery – is there a reason?

I should be packing up for the National Championship race in Gothenburg this weekend (a 24 hour race on Sweden’s beautiful west coast). But instead Thule Adventure Team is forced yet again to find a replacement for me – I’m just not back to form yet since my bike crash.

To take my mind off the stress I took a “just for fun” paddle tour through the ÅEC rapids this weekend in a whitewater boat. Nisse and I had a great time on a beautiful summer evening, floating down the river enjoying the bumps instead of avoiding them to maximize speed …
IMG_1556Gone paddlin’ …

 

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Practicing my roll just before the take-out. Yep, a hell of an “ice cream headache” …

 

Injuries are frustrating. But as I sit here and try to push away the self-pity (why me? why now?), I’m reminded that perhaps there’s a reason for all this … or, perhaps I need to re-learn something.
Just over 13 months ago I wrote a blog post called “Faith and Stagnation” where I talked about my overtraining syndrome and the need to rest. It was just a few weeks after my disappointing Coast to Coast race, which was preceded by a HUGE (and perhaps un-balanced) focus on training in preparation for the 12 hour race. After the race I started up training as soon as I could to prove to myself that “I could do better than that …” The result was not surprising: a total collapse and lack of interest in training.

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Pondering my future in New Zealand on a slow lazy bike ride during my recovery from over-training.

 

The rest period in early 2014 was tough but it came with a good payoff: I had a great season of racing upon returning to Sweden and was even invited to join Team Thule.
But when I found myself in pain in late march, just weeks after flying over my handle bars on my bike and breaking my ribs, I should have remember the positive payoff I received from ‘investing’ in rest before a big season. But I didn’t.

Instead, I let my fears and anxiety take over. I filled my head with irrational thoughts, such as convincing myself that if I came back quickly, I could salvage some of benefits from my successful winter training season. I also convinced myself that I didn’t have the luxury of sitting and waiting — I put pressure on myself to perform in 2015.

So when my ribs felt better after two weeks I started my comeback instead of “listening and feeling” my body’s signals. I allowed my brain to override those “harder to measure” feelings of fatigue. I should have known better after 16 years of racing, but some things need to be re-learned.

 

A MIX OF THERAPIES …
So what am I doing to get better while training is out of the equation? Resting. Resting. And resting. But I’m also including some different therapies …

 

FOOT THERAPY …
I just read a great book (thanks to Johan Skärskog for the tips) called the Cool Impossible, which fits in to my recent interest in re-learning how to run. The author is the running coach for Christopher McDougal (the “Born to Run” author) .

cool impossible

The best part of the book is the focus on “true strength” which the author defines as “the ability to use stored up energy in our muscles to create power, to propel and stabilize movement as efficiently as possible.” True strength requires better equilibrium across muscle groups, which ultimately means we need to build the smaller muscles to allow the big ones to work well.

The author suggests a series of strength-building exercises for the foot and the core. For the foot he suggests a slant board, a little device you can use in your family room to build a stronger foot. I almost bought one from his website, but created my own version after finding the perfect block in the forest near my house.

IMG_1516Strengthening my left foot by stimulating the forces on the small muscles when running uphill.

 

Just like most people I have a front foot that has been “smashed in”, i.e., tight fitting shoes have led my little pinky toe to be forced inward, instead of being able to flex outward.

IMG_1509Check out the right pinky toe …
But now after I’ve done these exercises for a while, I’m starting to see improvement. I can flex my little pinky toe outward.

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But it’s not just the exercises. I’m also walking barefoot as much as possible and wearing these “correct toes” that Anders Nordström gave me recently. Some nights I sleep with them and most days I walk around the office with them (search “toe separators” on Amazon and you find a lot of options).

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MASSAGE THERAPY …
I’ve spent a lot of time on the massage table at Jamtkliniken, among other things to stimulate recovery of my sore achilles heal (a natural side effect of barefoot run training – which is why everybody should start easy with this new run technique!).
Andreas at Jamtkliniken has given me several shock wave therapy treatments, which addresses a host of ailments like plantar fasciitis and anything derived from having short muscles (endurance training!).

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Here’s a little video of how it sounds and looks …

 

FARMING THERAPY …
I’m putting my “money where my mouth is” and getting my hands dirty. I’ve always had a strong appreciation for good food and now it’s time to create my own. I hope to be harvesting kale, fennel, pumpkin, squash, carrots, radishes, red beets, and spinach this summer. And yes it’s possible to grow all this at 63 degrees N. Latitude they tell me! Thanks to Karolin for her farming tips :)

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Tilling my soil, so to speak … :)
farming pre plant

 

ACUPUNCTURE THERAPY …

I’ve gone to see my acupuncturist in Östersund, Krister Praglert, who runs Alternativ Praktiken. He’s helped me come out of “slumps” before and I have faith he will do the same this time. He’s a great resource to have here in Östersund.

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The most commonly stimulated point in Chinese Medicine – and one of the most important for generating and stimulating good health – is the point called Zusanli. Just below the knee cap. It’s been used to treat everything from fatigue to bad gas. I’ve been to many acupuncturists and as soon as I explain that I’m an endurance athlete, they all go right for this point! (right Michelle?)

zusanli
My Zusanli …

 

Krister also taped my ribs, which provided a surprising amount of relief from the classic broken rib ailment. It’s the stretchy kinetisk tape, not the stiff medical stuff (which is not recommended for broken ribs, by the way).

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So what have I learned? I’ve learned I need to slow down and recover in order to be able to speed up and race later this summer … And yes, this is not the first time I’ve learned that. But hopefully it will be the last ☺

Train smart …

Scott
PS You are welcome to my presentation (in Swedish) Monday night (11 May) at Friskis and Svettis on Frösön, see below

 

inspirationskväll löpning

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3 Responses to "A slow recovery – is there a reason?"

  1. Michelle Craw says:

    Yes :-) that is right!!!

  2. Carole Burnett says:

    Wishing you a successful recovery, Scott! I am glad that you are using a variety of approaches. I’ll be sending good thoughts to you.

  3. Otis says:

    Sounds like you have it all under control!! Just a matter of time, now, I suppose.

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