Monday, February 27, 2012

The hidden benefit of my back injury

I promise this will be the last post about my back.  I am not a winer, nor do I seek attention for injury however, in this case, this specific SI Joint injury may have been a blessing.  I won't know for sure until I do my race but if yesterday was an indication I may have lucked out.

So periodically to make sure my training is doing what it is supposed to be doing and my specific workouts are based on where my physical abilities are, Jennifer at trismart assigns me tests.  Yesterday was a Functional Threshold Power Test or often referred to as FTP.  Riding with a power meter is the single best way to improve your cycling ability.  The reason being is that it is constant.  When you think about cycling, there are many variables like wind and hills being the two biggest.  Both of these greatly affect speed which is what we all strive for (yesterday was a great case in point).  The reason power is so important is it actaully measures that amount of force you apply to your pedals.  Power doesn't care how fast you go or if the wind is at your back or in your face, it only measures how hard you are working.  About once ever two months I do an FTP test which is loosly defined as the average power I can generate for an hour.  Once FTP is determined, my coach can calculate all of my Power Zones for racing based on the distance of the cycling portion of the tri.  For instance, for my Ironman I will bike in Zone 2 - the aerobic zone and regardless of wind and terrain, I will be instructed not to apply more power (as measured by my powermeter) that we determine I can handle.  THIS IS EXTREMELY important when you race because you always feel jacked up and like a super hero during a race.  If you go too hard especially in a race that is 12+ hours long your body feels great at first but all of the blood rushes to your legs to help them pedal.  During the bike, especially the first 60 miles you need to take in a lot of calories to fuel you bike and run and recover from the swim and if all of your blood is in your legs, you don't digest your food and when you don't digest your food you have no energy and you bonk.  Here is a great video of a famous dual "bonking" in an Ironman.  It isn't because they didn't train, it is most likely because they didn't get enough nutrition during the race or raced so hard they couldn't process it.  For us inexperienced racers who have not gotten the "feel" of the right mix of effort yet, power is the only way to tell. This is one of the most famous of all bonks but it happens every race .

Anyway I digress....  The reason my back injury may have been a blessing is because I wasn't able to run so spent a lot of time on the bike doing very specific work to increase my FTP.  If I increase my one hour FTP the trickle down is that I also increase my aerobic zone allowing me to apply more power over a longer period of time in the Ironman making my relative speed faster.  The FTP test is pretty simple.  Do a time trial as hard and fast as you can go wihtout "blowing up".  Your power over the first 10 minutes should be less than the last 10.  Instead of doing this for an hour (because that really really really sucks) do it for 30 minutes.  Most experts believe that your FTP is 5% lower than your 30 minute average power.  I did this test yesterday and was able to average 274 Watts for the test.  I mentioned above your power meter doesn't care what your speed is was demonstrated yesterday.  My test was into a 20 mph wind the entire time.  That is the most power I have generated but my average speed was only 15MPH!!!  My previous best was 240 Watts so my test yesterday was a full 14.2% gain compared to the test that I did outside July of last year.  My extra time in the offseason on the bike (assuming I can maintain it) should help me come June at IMCDA.

Now, I need to make sure I get my aerobic engine and endurence where it needs to be along with my swimming.  I feel great about where my biking is right now for this time of year.  The other two things are a little scary but we will see.

T-Minus 17 weeks and counting.

All for now...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My back is finally healed

What a wake up call for me.  I have never really had any back issues to speak of in my life until now.  Since before Thanksgiving I have been dealing with lower back pain.  Doctors, Oral anti-inflamatories, No Running, and a lot of grumpiness has finally came to an end.

Last Tuesday, I woke up, back pain as normal, and was getting dressed for a breakfast meeting.  I bend over to get my shoes and all of a sudden I feel a pop and my left leg goes limp.  I can't stand up, I can't straighten up and I am laying on the floor.  I cancel my meeting and can do nothing but literally crawl on my stomach back to bed.  To say I was sickened would be an understatment.  The Dr. that is seeing me doesn't get back in the country for another week and I literally can not walk.  I am hoping laying down would help so I tried to sleep.  Of course, I was in too much pain to sleep so at 8:00am I call the Chiropractor that I have been to a couple of times, Dr. Dykeman in Rosewood Heights.  I have known him for a long time and Rene goes to see him periodically.  They were able to get me in, assuming of course, I could get myself there. 

It takes me what felt like 20 minutes to get out of bed and then I still couldn't walk.  I called Rene and she had to come home, get me dressed, and help me to the car.  The only thing I could think was that Ironman Coeur d'Alene is over for me and I actually said that to Rene.  With IMCdA in 20 weeks I am getting really nervous at this point. 

I get in to see Dr. D and explain history.  After confirming, reconfirming and reconfirming again that there is no disc issues (thanks MRI) he puts me on the table.  Then he proceeds to crawl, literally crawl on the table with me.  An arm through my legs, a hand on my shoulder and with one quick motion I hear and feel what sounds like a shot gun go off in my hips.  I literally let out a "Son Of A B$%#ch", quickly realizing that I just yelled in the middle of a busy office I apologized and then realized I had almost instant relief.  He told me to stand up and I could.  I could walk again.  He then proclaims what I have been dealing with this entire time was my SI Joint.  It has been off and on all the way back to IronMan Arizona in 2010 and I never realized it.  Everyday since I have gone back to him for an adjustment with each one getting less and less until I can actually do it myself.

Sunday was the first time I would even attempt to workout last week with a semi-easy 1.5 hour bike ride on the trainer.  I was still feeling good so I quickly transitioned to the treadmill for my first run in over a month.  My goal was to get 15 pain free minutes in.  50 minutes later running at this time (8.5 min/mile) I thought it was time to stop.  Still - ZERO pain. 

Had a great weekend with KGB having a great basketball game and Dance competition rehearsal and NBB having a great Upward basektball game as well.  He is fighting a weird cold right now (slept through recess yesterday) but other than it it is a great Valentines Day!

More to come but I should have a full week of training this week with hopefully no issues.

Until then, have a great week - T-Minus 19 weeks to IMCdA