When scrolling through my results from last year, it may be hard to believe but the triathlon sport I had a background in prior to 2012 was swimming . I vividly recall as an 11 year old swimming 11 sessions in six days while building up to Australian schools nationals. Throughout my triathlon career I have relied far too much on this swimming background rather than putting in the work. That became very apparent to me last year when I began racing as a professional and made the main lead group out of the water in just 2 of 9 races. With that being the case, it goes without saying I have never again come close to swimming the volume I did as an 11 year old…….Until this week.
Following a visit to the doctor two weeks ago, it was found that I had torn my gastrocnemius (calf) muscle. Apparently I was running too fast through the streets of Toledo, but that is neither here nor there! The injury left me with an initial two weeks of absolutely no running or riding and a hesitant approval from the doctor to swim- providing I didn’t push off the wall. Upon receiving the news of the injury, as well as warnings of its severity from several doctors and fellow athletes, my head dropped. I was just starting to feel good about where my fitness was and had meticulously planned out a season of racing with plans to do some big damage during the European summer. I was deflated, but I also had a choice to make. I could let my injury get me down and lose any fitness I had gained by sitting on the couch and eating ice cream or I could go out and do what I could. I have to thank some of my training partners for getting me off the couch and into the pool. The first swim was demoralizing, but as my friend Ryan put it- at least I was doing something. By the end of the week my yardage was at 34,500 over 8 sessions.
In a sport where consistency is the name of the game, this is the first real injury I have had. I like to think that being faced with this adversity, I have learned a few things. I hope by passing them on I can help others in the same situation.
1. Use your injury as an opportunity to improve your weaknesses with whatever you can do.
2. Talking to people about your injury can be helpful. I pride myself on being a mentally strong athlete and human being but my friends and training partners have been the ones that have really helped me stay focused.
3. There is always something you can do. Doing something is far better than doing nothing. For both your fitness and your state of mind.
I have my next appointment with the doctors this morning and am hopeful to get some good news. I am sure that even if that is the case, it will be a few weeks or more before my running and riding volume is ramped back up again. For this reason, I am certain to be spending some more time in the pool. Rather than be disappointed I am now excited to get out there and improve on the area that needs it the most. Now time to practice my T1!
Stay healthy and keep warm!