August 2008

House Of Pain

It had to happen.

My initial enthusiasm at the start of my IronMan training in May blew up two weeks ago in a spectacular orgy of pain and sickness. First to say howzit were my lungs when a head cold took up residence and refused to be evicted. It then invited all of it’s relatives to move in and eventually my entire sinus/head/throat/lung system had been colonised.

This invasion was closely followed by the failure of my right knee, which in sympathy with my head developed a level of ITB pain unknown to man since the end of the Spanish inquisition. My shoulders, not to be outdone, decided that they no longer wanted to swim and individually both of them gave up the ghost, displaying different symptoms but with equal pain levels. I was reduced to moving around like a slug with the sniffles.

Apparently my cardio vascular system has outstripped the ability of my muscular skeletal bits to keep up, and all the aches and pains are a result of my body saying STOP! Like a sucking chest wound, this is just nature’s way of telling me to slow down.

Coach Claire  immediately prescribed a rest period and the ministrations of well known Physio Benita De Witt for my knee. “It’s going to be painful” Claire told me, “But what she does to you will work very quickly and very well.” Benita’s house of pain beckoned. Benita by the way writes for Runners World magazine and knows a thing or two about running injuries.

When I arrived at her rooms, Benita and her colleague Francois Retief led me through to a consulting room where they explained the Lyno method and what they would be doing. The Lyno method was developed by Benita herself (more info at ) and she has presented her research at the Harvard medical School. She has also treated none other than Kelly Holmes so I felt I was in good hands. Good but very firm hands.

The start of the session was a bit off-putting as they kept referring to me ‘doing some bankies’ . I didn’t really know what to think about that. I mean, I’m as open to the suggestion of a spliff or two for pain relief as the next man, but a couple of bankies worth in the first session seemed to be taking it a bit far. And would they throw in some munchies afterwards? It turns out that the bankies at Benita’s are actually just a different kind of torture session and the name comes from the Afrikaans word for bench. Just use your imagination.

So anyway, add the ‘bench’ to the ministrations of Francois, a very large (and friendly) muscle bound torture master of note, and you can start to understand how painful the session was. At one stage during a particularly evil prod at my leg he had the good grace to thank me for not insulting or hitting him. I compromised by swearing at him from the safety of my car as I drove home. (He really is a large guy)

Three hours later I feel like a new man. My legs are loose and my knee has no pain. The miracle has begun. Roll on Friday and session two.

Progress? Maybe.

I think that my training load may be getting to me. Yesterday I tried to PVR my life.

Let’s be honest about this, one of the greatest inventions and training aids known to man is the PVR (personal video recorder). If I’m on the indoor trainer and miss what’s happening on the TV screen during a particularly intense cycling interval, I can simply pause the program, rewind to the bit I missed and continue watching from there. If I’m out running or swimming then I can record up to 100 hours of TV and watch it later.

I fear that I may have started to rely on the PVR a little too heavily though. Increasingly I find myself wanting to rewind the radio station I am listening to in the car or the film I am watching at the cinema. Yesterday I took the final step toward PVR dependence when I found myself wanting to rewind real life. I was at a presentation and I didn’t clearly hear what someone had said and my immediate reaction was to rewind it. I bet I’m not the only one to have done it either so don’t laugh too loud…

Anyway this got me thinking about how technology has changed the way I cycle since I was a young ‘n.

When I was a kid, riding my bike was a means to an end. If I needed to be at point ‘b’ where the current adventure was happening but I was actually at point ‘a’, the quickest way to get there was usually on my bike and that was what I did. I simply jumped on my bike and rode there.

Fast forward a good few years and the situation has changed somewhat. If I want to ride my bike today I have to change into cycling clothes consisting of shorts, thermal base layer, cycling top, buff, helmet, shoes with cleats and of course a ‘cool’ par of sunglasses. Any ride over 30 minutes also requires me to wear a hydration pack with at least 2 liters of water, a spare tube, full set of tools, 2 x CO2 bombs, a waterproof top, safety whistle and cell phone. By the time I’ve managed to get all of that sorted out it only remains for me to lube my chain and check the tyre pressures before I hit the road.

Usually this getting dressed exercise/ritual will take me a minimum of 30 minutes to complete so I certainly wouldn’t consider riding to the shops or running an errand on my bike because I just don’t have that much time available. It’s a little sad really, because now I only cycle to keep fit whereas when I was a kid, keeping fit was a byproduct of having an adventure on my bike.