Training and Injury

Dealing with injury.

There are many things that motivate me to write my next blog and at times it isn’t always following a positive experience. I think the clue is within the title here and I’m hoping I am able to turn a frustrating situation into a positive.

As is the case with any athlete, or recreational exerciser, it is very likely that at some point they will have to deal with injury. Some more than others depending on many factors, but I am sure you can all relate to it in some way. There are also many variables here of course and every individual will have their own way of dealing with it from complete rest to working through it at all costs and ignoring symptoms.

Over the course of my professional career you may be able to guess which camp I fell into as I have had multiple injuries and operations, maybe not more than average, but certainly my fair share. As a younger man I had no real regard for my body and in many ways that trait has been hard to shake off as I have got older.  My approach to their rehab is not necessarily the advice I would give to others in the same situation as I have trained relentlessly for the last 25 years and am dealing with a very real addiction. I will continue to exercise in any way I can until I am unable to do so. My compromise is that I will alter things if necessary, but I will never rest. This has obviously got me a fairly long way, but has also put me in several difficult situations.

Most of us have had some sort of back complaint in our lives and I  am no exception here, but have always seen and felt the symptoms early enough to be able to manage things. Well a few months ago I had a few back twinges, nothing out of the ordinary. I followed this with a few long drives which seemed to be the start of my decline now that I look back on it all. It was bearable (drugs are amazing things!) so I continued to row for the next 6 or 7 weeks until 12 days ago where I simply couldn’t pull a single stroke without pain on the drive and extension. What also was apparent that training through the injury initially had developed a painful left elbow issue where I was obviously compromising my rowing technique. With race season fast approaching this wasn’t great timing and very frustrating for me, although technically I promised myself and a few people close to me that I wouldn’t be racing for a while and It seems that I will end up being true to my word now!  However in the scheme of life this was really not important and I needed to find some positives and refocus myself.

I have an MRI scan pending in a few days to give an exact diagnosis and I will continue on my treatment plan. Mentally and physically I have stepped away from the rower and am fortunate to able to swap it for time on the Wattbike which, in the absence or rowing, is an excellent replacement and gives me no obvious pain other than a savage leg burn during nearly every session!! I am working at a high enough intensity and building up a resistance on it that will hopefully ensure I don’t lose too much rowing power if and when I am able to return.  In addition I am still able to do weights for conditioning, although the pool of exercises currently possible is shrinking somewhat !

I know my way of dealing with things is far from conventional and I have consequently left myself in a difficult place so my mindset had to change. I now look forward to my sessions and progressing on a different piece of kit believing that this enforced time away from rowing, however long or short, can ultimately bring me back hungrier than ever to make progress. So the next time you are in a rowing session and wishing it away because it is too painful, remember when the option is taken away from you that you will more than likely want it back.