Tag Archives: Sport-Fitness

Running at Shawnigan Lake Triathlon

This one weird trick will change the way you run

…and you’ll never guess what it is!

Just tear your ACL, get knee surgery, and be forced to teach yourself to run all over again. Easy-peasy!

No really, if there was a blessing in disguise for being off running for a couple of years, it was that I had to learn to run again.

Recovery was slow but steady, but running and triathlon training have been a different kettle of fish.

The fact that I am now regularly running 10k – and have signed up for a fall half marathon, is a miracle of modern medicine. And, to be honest, a testament to my following my physiotherapist’s instructions.

I began by “running” only the straightaways on a track, walking the curves, but it was clear from the very first foray that I would have to run differently.

I would have to run more efficiently, on my forefoot, the way Victoria runner Marilyn Arsenault tried to teach me years ago while I was training for my second or third marathon.

I had signed up for one of her clinics, then got impatient and left the group because I felt re-learning my running gait was interfering with my training. So I remained a heel-striker through my journey into triathlon some years later.

Then the knee injury and the surgery and the recovery.

So there I was, on the track, ready to run for the first time in two and a half years. I started out tentatively and immediately felt pain shoot up through the newly-reconstructed knee.

Discouraged wasn’t nearly a strong enough word. My tears said it all, and Ken could only commiserate.

Then I remembered the two or three Mindful Strides sessions I did manage to get through years ago in Victoria.

Then and there, I switched my running gait to land more on my forefoot, with my bodyweight firmly under me.

Quite frankly, it was the only way I could run without pain. I was astounded that by switching up my gait, there was no pain at all.

I was running again!

I was slow as molasses. It was deliberate and exhausting, but exhilarating. It was a total of about 2 kilometres. But I was running, and it was pain-free.

I’ve been slowly building up fitness ever since. I’ve been incorporating strength training into my routine as well.

I haven’t been working on speed in the last year I’ve been running – just putting in some mileage, getting used to the idea of running and doing triathlons again. I’ve done a few hills now and then (they’re hard to avoid, living in Vancouver).

I’m still slower than I was pre-injury, but I’m hoping that’s because I haven’t deliberately trained for much of anything except completing a couple of 10k events last year.

Training starts in earnest mid-July for the Victoria Half. Then next year? Bring on the 2018 triathlon season!

Photo credit: Connie Walters Dunwoody

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Doing the right thing

I’ve been doing a lot of swimming these days.

Last week I was in the market for new swim goggles and silicon earplugs. I had lost my goggles somewhere, and they were the best ones I had ever used, so I needed to replace that exact brand and model.

Triathlon Swim Start by GasMunkySaanich Commonwealth Place (where I do most of my swimming) has a good swim shop. I selected a set of earplugs, but was having trouble finding the right goggles. There I was, peering at their selection, then digging in my swim bag to find the case for the old ones, just to make sure I got the exact same model. (Yes, they are that good. They are seriously comfortable, leak-free, fog-free goggles: AquaSphere Kaiman. Try them out if you’re in the market for swim gear.)

I asked the staff person for help. She couldn’t find that model either, so she offered to go look in the back. No luck. So I said thanks and left the store, on my way to the other really good swim shop downtown: HTO. There I found the goggles I wanted.

In among all this searching I forgot all about earplugs, but when I got home I discovered a new set in my bag. OMIGOSH I had taken earplugs form SCP without paying! Guilt! Shame! However, rather than drive all the way back to SCP, I decided to pay the next time I was there and the shop was open.

So today after swim practice I went to the shop and explained what had happened, and handed over my $5.50 for the purloined plugs. Transaction done, the staff member disappeared into a back office and I paused in the hallway looking at my phone. Presently there was a tap on my shoulder; it was the staff member.

“Thanks for doing that. You didn’t have to. Here, have two free passes for the facility,” she said, pressing two passes into my hand.

Photo: “What a Swim” by GasMunky, used with permission via Creative Commons license.

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How being a multisport athlete means you never have to say you can’t work out

You know how I came to be a triathlete? I was a runner who had to start cycling and swimming because of injuries; it was a natural progression. These days, yet again, I am very glad I’m a multi-sport athlete.

A week and a half ago I was hiking Mount Finlayson with a friend. It was a foggy, wet day (although not raining). The trail was slippery in places, but otherwise OK. I had vibram-soled day hikers on; the same ones that have taken me up this hike, and others, many times.

We stopped at the top for some water and a photo, and started to make our way down. Not far from the summit, I stepped down. My foot twisted in, my leg twisted out, and in a heartbeat I was down on the ground writhing in pain.

My friend helped me hobble slowly down the mountain; but I fell two or three more times; my knee just gave way. At one point it made an audible, sickening crack sound, which was not (thank goodness) accompanied by pain. My doctor says it was probably my knee cap sub-luxating (or something like that). My physiotherapist says I kept falling because after that initial trauma my muscles were tensed up and not working properly.

The next day I hobbled to a walk-in clinic with my now-swollen knee and got an order for X-rays, tensor bandage, crutches, and ibuprofen.

It became apparent to me that my training plans are now put on hold. I spent last week trying to hold off a funky black cloud of misery, weight gain, longing for my bike, and longing to be out running trails, and being unable to even do household chores properly (pro tip gleaned from Twitter: hook a bag onto a crutch to carry things in. Pack food up like a picnic for taking it to the dining room to eat).

My friends were fantastic. Crystal came over to clean my place. Another friend took me out for dinner. I had offers of meals and help that I was so grateful for .. And my friend Yukari sent me a sweet note. All very welcomed and which brightened my spirits immeasurably. I drove up to the Cobble Hill 10k race to help out and cheer from my crutches on the sidelines. It was a gorgeous day and I was inspired to not lose hope.

First good news came a few days later when I saw my own doc. “Have I lost my triathlon season?” I asked her.

“No, no, not yet. I think you should heal. No broken bones, no ACL tear, possible meniscus tear, but we’ll know more after a month of physiotherapy.” So, I made an appointment with my sometime torturer – er – physiotherapist – Matt.

More good news after that first physio visit. Matt thinks it’s not torn, that it was a painful sprain/stretched ligament, and it’s on its way to recovery as long as I do a few things right. I can start spinning on the bike indoors for 10-15 minutes at NO tension. I can swim with light kicking (no paddle board, kick drills or frog kick). I have gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to do for the next 4 weeks.

The other interesting thing Matt said was to hold on to my crutches: either walk correctly (meaning slowly) or use them – but AVOID LIMPING at all costs. If I walk with a limp I’ll be teaching my body bad habits that I’ll just have to un-teach once things progress.

So – there it is. Hope reigns. Things are looking up. I might not get the times I hoped for, but it looks like I will be able to do all the events I signed up for on 2014:

  • April 27: TC 10K
  • May 25: Subaru Shawnigan Lake Triathlon (Sprint)
  • June 15: Subaru Victoria Triathlon (As the swim leg of TriStars Scrambled Legs Relay team-Olympic)
  • June 29: Tri of Compassion (Sprint)
  • July 13: Cowichan Challenge Triathlon (“Challenge” distance)
  • August 4: Self Transcendence Triathlon (Olympic)
  • Later in August: Maybe Tour de Victoria 140K, but entry fee $$$ is spendy!
  • October (if all goes well) – Victoria Half Marathon

UPDATE May 25: I have edited this post to take out the name and photograph of the person with whom I was hiking, because reasons.

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