Monday, July 28, 2014

IMMT Training Weeks 26 and 27: Learning from my mistakes

I am tired, but not from working out. I barely exercised in the last 2 weeks and many times I felt like I've literally fallen off a wagon and I've kept looking at the train as it was moving away from me and I just could not get up and run after it. Depressing, I know. Don't get me started or I'll bawl my eyes out. I'm tired because I have been sitting on my butt trying to figure my pain out. I am completely exhausted mentally, constantly juggling with information being thrown at me, with very good intentions of course, but which doesn't help me find peace of mind.

With Ironman Mt. Tremblant being just 3 weeks away, I should have finished another solid 3 weeks cycle, yet all I could do was to stare at my legs and wish for a miracle. I did not want to call it an injury, it is such a dirty word. Besides, athletes are known for pushing the limits of their pain threshold and let's be honest, it does NOT hurt like an injury. It's a nagging pain, that's all, but it's been haunting every single one of my runs. And since I'm the only one who's been inside my head, playing with the pain knobs, I tried to err on the side of caution and not make it worse. It's only in the last week that I started listening to people around me and notably to coach who ordered a proper bike fit, acupuncture and about 0.5% intensity in everything I do, with the condition that I keep moving. And yes, he was the first one to call it an injury (and it got me furious).

So I went for the bike fit. And guess what? Although the seat was at the right height by the books, once I sat on it, my legs would completely stretch out while at the bottom of quadrant, locking my knee. I know for sure that I do not bike like this, at least not unless I try to stand up and stretch my legs, but I end up pedaling with my toes down and heel up and that never gives a break to my legs. I must also be rocking my hips. So my seat was ONE INCH too high all this time, which is huge in terms of bike adjustments. Can you say LOSER? That is me by the way. I remember 10 months ago when I went on a bike ride with coach just after I bought my bike and he looked at me and said: "your seat is too high". He kept repeating it for a month, then he gave up. Did I believe him? Of course not, because my ass knows best. Some think with their head, others with their ass. I'm in the latter category and really not proud of myself.

By the way, for those interested in knee pain that may be due to biking, I found this website that explains the causes very eloquently.

I had the cleat angle and seat adjusted to address #1 and #5 and when I came home Zin told me that #3 is most likely a factor as well because I've always complained about how hard it was to unclip from my Shimano SPD SL pedals (and I'm under 65kg). Given that the leg that I unclip is the one that hurts the most... It cannot be just a coincidence.

So let's assume that I finally know the root cause. I came back from the fit with so much hope, that I imagined my pain going away miraculously in my sleep. Just that it didn't. And here's where I should probably go into recap mode because I'm already back to spinning bad thoughts in my head. Let's go.


Aaaaaah, that's better! Swimming has been awesome... most of the time.

 I did one pool swim that ended prematurely because of chaos at Mayfield Rec Centre. Someone must have messed up the schedules and I found myself with 40 people in the pool instead of the 4 regulars. I had to get out after 30 min. There was no way to swim properly in a lane when all I was doing was trying to avoid head on collisions.

But going to Professor's Lake was a treat. First week I swam 3 loops on Thursday, and the following week I swam 5 loops (3800m). I was feeling so down, that conquering the Iron distance swim that day was the only thing that could cheer me up. At least I know that I'm going to finish the swim at IMMT, if nobody knocks me out with an elbow to the head that is. I also managed to swim under 1h20 and that's another #win! Exactly where I hope to be on August 17.
The watch stole about 50m.
The only other swim left for this recap was at the Belwood Tri race (separate post to follow), so I will skip it for now.


Alright, so let's rewind for a minute. At the beginning of the week #26, I still had no clue where my ITB/knee pain was coming from, but I was decided to find out, just that the only method I knew was brute force. I had stopped running the Thursday before, as you may remember from the last recap, then on the following Tuesday I hopped on my bike for a hard trainer workout. THE hardest this year. In my defense, I was following coach's schedule and it was asking for a "sub threshold workout". I chose Aniakchak from Trainer Road because it looked challenging enough, without knowing that I was going to spend more than half the time AT threshold (according to my HR). And it was such a sweet, sweet sweatfest, I loved every minute of if (ok, maybe not the first 5 minutes of the last interval where you can clearly see how I bonked). But a salty ball to the rescue, and a few minutes later all was good with the world again.

Nothing hurt while I was doing the bike and certainly not my ego. But of course, those 6 smashed records were going to keep it inflated for the rest of the season. However, the next day... my IT band woke up screaming. Rub, rub, rub with every step... I could feel it so tense on the outside of my knee, it would snap back in place whenever I'd sit down and stand up. Nasty!! So biking had something to do with it after all...

I had to take it easy for the rest of the week since my knees needed some TLC. Did an easy spin on Friday, but raced on Saturday. The following Monday I had the bike fit and since then it's been easy spin after easy spin every other day, no more than 1h at a time. Pathetic. But at least I am listening to coach now and he ordered that I stay put.


The first week I knew that I was going to run in Belwood, or at least I hoped I could. But before the race I wanted to take a real break from running, just in case it was the culprit for my knee issues. So on Thursday, after swimming 3 loops, I decided to run in the water for 30 min. That was hard!! I came out of the water, legs were shaking and my heart was beating out of my chest. But at least it felt like a workout. Alright then, I can do this.

After racing on Saturday, I returned to the lake for more water running. This time I did a full loop and it took me almost 40 minutes to water run 750m. Everyone was lapping me and the lifeguards were all wondering what the hell I was doing, but I managed to keep a straight face and convince them that my apparent doggie paddling was a serious athletic endeavor that had to be admired. I seriously wanted a medal. This was NOT a jog in the park and I was in serious pain out there. Yeah, it was becoming apparent that water running wasn't going to work for my IT bands either. After reaching the first buoy I started feeling the rubbing outside my knee again. In the middle of the freaking lake!! Get me outta there!! I continued stoically until I completed the loop, then put on my goggles and furiously swam with a solid kick the whole time because I couldn't get my legs to shut up.

And so I had to find yet another way to keep moving, and I found the elliptical. I did 2 more "runs" on it this past week, thankfully without pain around the knees. Hey, if that's what it takes, I'll elliptical myself until my arms and legs fall off!

In a nutshell

I am learning from my mistakes. I am almost 40 years old and I still make monumental mistakes. How many times in life have I told myself that "I'm too old for this shit"? Well, it appears that I can also be "too stupid for this shit". But I got it now. I think.

I went to an all-in one massage therapist, acupuncturist, ex army guy martial artist. He does not mess around!! I may come home with bruises all over, but I believe that his treatments WILL make me better. I need patience, and a lot of it. I wish I went to see him a month ago when the pain started...

I went to Via Ciclante and saw JP who did a bike fit. We may have found the cause of my misery. Again time will tell. He also promised me a 20 watts gain after the fit. Yeah, right. Not sure I believe that, but I haven't tried either.

I went to a chiropractor/ART specialist. He found a thousand spots that hurt when he pokes at them. He gave me treatments that turned me into a wet noodle, just like the massage therapist, but with a slice of nausea on the side. My friend Matt, who just finished IMLP, swears by him. He may not fix my IT bands, but my body sure needs a hard reboot. I feel that ART does that wonderfully.

I am listening to my coach, but I no longer have a very precise schedule. I just know that I have to keep moving and keep the workouts short and not very intense.

What else can I say? I am a mess, but I want to believe that I will heal eventually. Injury or not, I got handicapped to the point that I can no longer run without pain, but I hope that it will get better before I get to toe the line at IMMT. There are no shortcuts to this finish line. This is my journey and it's too late to look back and start having regrets. Next recap will bring better news, I promise!


  1. Always a pleasure to read your blog... I've been guilty of lurking many of your articles, so here's a shout out! ��

  2. Gahhhhh I am so sorry you are dealing with this right now. :( Your mistakes are ones we all make (and probably will again) so don't beat yourself up too much. But good to learn from it!

    In December/January when my knee started bothering me a little (but not enough for me to use the dreaded "i" word), I ignored it and kept running for a few weeks. I needed to avoid hills because they really bothered it... should have been a pretty clear red flag and yet I kept running. And then... boom.

    It seems that something ALWAYS hurts or twinges a little here and there. How the &%^$ are we supposed to know when we can/should work through it and when it's time to warm the bench?!

    All that being said, GOOD LUCK getting to the other side of this pain before your big day. Regardless of how much your training has been interrupted, I know you will kick serious butt out there.

    1. Thank you so much Marlene for your words of encouragement. You are so right, there is always something, and we always walk along that line. I will get better!!

  3. I agree with Marlene - how the hell are we supposed to know which twinges we can safely ignore, and which ones are big ol' warning flags? When you do endurance stuff there's so often twinges and pains that end up being nothing, until you get one that's a big fat Something.

    You are awesome, and your training to date will carry you through, I'm sure of it. Get healed up!

    1. Anyone knows a medium? ;-) It would definitely be good to know which ones are the ghost pains. Working on it, thanks so much!

  4. Ugh! I really hope your appointment with Steve on Friday sheds some light on your run issues! I'm sending you healing vibes!!!

    1. I actually cancelled my appointment because I just can't deal with so much info right now. I am trying to put all my focus into healing now, assuming that the bike did it. All the signs point to it, not as much to the running, although for sure imbalances helped making it worse. Steve will want to work with me to fix it, but since I'm leaving for IMMT on the 9th there will be no time left. Better to make this a mission after the Ironman and work on my core and glutes in preparation for the next season. Thanks for the good vibes, Phaedra!

  5. *hugs* Hopefully now that everything is fitted well, the pain will go away! Well done on the swim!

  6. Sometimes stubborn is good, sometimes its not. This was the later. You're still going strong, doing what you can do and I'm sure you'll figure it all out for the best. Eye's on the prize!

    1. Smack me next time you see me, ok? You can use the crepes pan if you want to.

  7. Really really sorry to read about the set back over the last couple of weeks. Been a bit of a lurker for a while and just wanted to lend my support!!

    You have been through an amazing journey to here and you will get through this stronger in mind and body than ever!! Positive thoughts!!!

    And thanks for following Left foot, right foot, left foot.....

    1. Yay for delurking!! Many thanks for your kind words. I also read your blog and saw that you had some "mechanical" issues as well. The return to fitness must be an adventure again, but I'm sure you'll do great! I will be following your journey. :-)