Since October 28 I’ve been recovering from a fracture in my 3rd metatarsal. I had a cast and crutches for 4 weeks, a weight bearing cast for 2 weeks, and then a walking boot for the two weeks after that. I found a cast cover about the same time I got the walking cast and started swimming again, albeit with a pull buoy. Once I got the walking boot, I resumed swimming fully. By the end of the week I felt really good in the water, with barely a noticeable difference from my pre-injury fitness, and swimming was really helping to restore the strength and mobility in my ankle. I also started cycling on my bike trainer, albeit in the small chainring to keep the gearing light. This helped my ankle and my hip. After this two month process, I saw the doctor yesterday, had my foot x-rayed, and got the good news that my foot is now healed and I can start moving back into weight bearing activities like running and pushing big gears on the the bike. My foot was feeling good and I could bear weight, without the boot, without pain, but confirmation from the doctor that my foot is once again healthy gave me a lot of confidence in moving forward once again.
It has certainly been a challenging two months. Gloria (a.k.a “Dr. G“) and I had planned on taking it easy after Austin and until the end of the year. When I thought of “easy,” I thought of rides on the American River Trail up to Beale’s Point with coffee after and runs limited to maybe and hour. After a long race season of coping with a lot of aches and pains I wanted to let my mind go for a bit. Two months of nursing a broken foot was not what I had in mind. While many athletes, when injured, will probably agonize over workout withdrawal more than anything, I felt worse about putting addition burdens on my wife more than anything else. Since I was on crutches I could not carry anything and move at the same time. She had to carry the groceries and my dinner plate, take out the garbage, mow the lawn, and more. Of course, worse things can happen, it was only for a few weeks, and I could at least still drive. Nonetheless, I don’t think this is something we really think about when we’re rocketing downhill at 40mph on a 15 lb bike.
Moving back into weight bearing activities does not mean I can immediately go out and run 8 or 10 miles. I have to work back into it over several weeks. For running, (thanks to my friend Katie Nyby, a great running coach) I plan on using the Pfizinger Program in conjunction with stretching and mobility training, strength and balance training, and form drills. Swimming is exactly where it should be; probably better than last year at this time. I have to move the goalpost for half-Ironman swim splits now and shoot for times in the 25-minute range (as opposed to 26’s). Cycling, at least on the trainer, is feeling better and better, with significant improvement in my hip strength, to the point that the strength imbalance is barely noticeable. I’ll get a better idea of where my cycling is over the next few days when I start riding outside again. I’m looking forward to it.
All in all, things are finally moving forward again. Ironically, several people have told me this may actually be a good thing for me in the long run, because the “forced rest” may have been the rest I really needed. While I certainly don’t advocate “unplanned” breaks from training due to injury and similar occurrences, I strongly believe in the importance of a true off season. Off season doesn’t mean letting yourself go. , but it does mean keeping your activities in context. You don’t need to be in race shape in December when your A race is in May or June. You need to rest your body and your mind, because hammering on can easily lead to burnout and injury. Focus on running drills, strength training, and mobility. Do something you would normally not do during race season, like mountain biking instead of road biking. Go on the Sunday coffee shop ride, rather than the hammerfest ride. Do some road races (i.e. running) for fun and to stay sharp, but don’t worry about PR’s. Those are for race season. If you worry about racing in your off season, then it’s not an off season. As for me, now that my foot is healed, off season is over and it’s time to think about racing again.