It had never been my intention to do an Ironman in September in 2017 as I had wanted the late summer off. However the Lanzarote experience (food poisoning) had forced me to seek another one out and as it was the first event in Italy, and the food is so good, Karen was keen to get me to sign up.
So we arrived a few days before and settled into the hotel and the great atmosphere these events generate. Despite my gastronomic disaster last time I still played shellfish roulette at dinner. It wasn’t much of a risk as you could toss the shells and hit the fish market behind if you wanted.
The day of the race was perfect. Smooth warm water and a gentle breeze. I had sought out my first ever swim lesson 2 weeks before and this paid dividends as I was 3 minutes faster than my PB. So I was up for it, the target was a sub 10:30hr race, previous PB was 10:53. However the transition was over a kilometre long and the bike was 5k longer than usual so that was a big ask. Still nothing ventured nothing gained.
As I had exited the swim fairly quickly I found myself in a fast group of riders who initially worked together within the rules (no draughting) and the pace was high. However some soon started to realise that two brits, me and a chap called Duncan were pushing on and they started to draught. In fact there was a lot of draughting. This is very annoying as it wears you out but rests the opposition. So I had to pace myself to not be spent when the marathon started.
To make matters worse the top of my water container popped off and I was getting covered in sticky drink which should have been going into my stomach! Any small loss of hydration can have serious effects on performance. It also makes it hard to eat your food. This cost me time and I lost the quick group.
By the time I finished the bike I felt as if I had made up the deficit and my legs felt good as I ran up T2 with the bike. A quick change and I was off on the run with an expected finish time of sub 10 hours. I was feeling great and stoked by the time. Karen was cheering me on fervently and we were in for a good one.
That is the biggest mistake Ironman Triathletes make. They get carried away and run off too fast. First 10k, flying along (for me) at 8 min miles, next 10k just a little slower then BOOM my quads went tight and I was struggling to run. Stretching nearly gave me cramp so I gave that a miss and it was shuffle, jog, walk, curse, question my sanity at doing something so crazy such as entering and then being stupid to not run enough in training.
It’s tough being in the mind of an exhausted person when you still have a half marathon to race. You want to stop and give up. You want to swap places with the person being pushed around the course in a buggy. Wait a minute. Did I just see that or am I about to collapse? No I was not hallucinating. There really was a team who had swum with a less abled chap in a rubber dinghy for 3.8k, then towed him on a bike for 185k and now there they were, on the run smiling. Yep, smiling. I couldn’t give up now, so it was gels and flat cola by the bucket load, plenty of thigh slapping, swearing and gradually my legs returned.
With a huge effort I started to run continuously and pick up the pace again. I was hopeful that my target of 10:30 was still on but as I got to the final 5k I realised that was long gone. The next target was a PB of sub 10:53 and I managed to get to the line (which you feel may never come) in 10:42. Respectable, but could have been a lot better if I had paced my run. The run came in at 4:05 which was only 4 minutes slower than last year when I ran all of it. So I really had been the hare when I should’ve been the tortoise.
I am not doing a big one next year as life is likely to get a little too busy, but I can manage a couple of middle distance Tri’s and may have a pop at Time Trialling on the bike.
I had trained all winter, braving freezing dark evenings, plus bleary eyed pre dawn starts in the pool. May had come round all too quickly and it was time to head off to Lanzarote for the Ironman. Unfortunately, some under cooked chicken put me out of action for 5 days and so the less said about that the better. To rub salt in the wound it was my Birthday too, so not a great trip.
That left me eager to make amends at the Titan Brecon. This is a race in the Brecon Beacons and a half distance but a tough one. So I was ready for it, however it was also the hottest day of the year which proved a problem on the run.
I was doing pretty well overall, lying in 19th place after the bike. The heat meant that I ran out of fluids just before the big hill climb with a further 10miles of the bike to go. This left me dehydrated for the start of the run. The result was cramp setting in hard in both legs at mile 3 out of 13. Add in shade temp of 33c and you had a recipe for a true endurance test.
The result was that I had to keep stopping to gulp down lots of water at every chance plus pouring it over myself. In the end I gave up on a PB time and ended up getting to know some of the helpers quite well. So another disastrous race, only plus side was the pro female winner was also 15 minutes slower on her run than usual too.
The next big one was Weymouth Middle, after a bit of argie bargie in the swim that nearly saw my goggles go floating off it was onto the bike. My glasses rapidly misted up and I was riding practically blind up the first big climb. I managed to pick off quite a few of the faster swimmers and was well placed on my return to T2. It’s always a good feeling to see the leader still only just on the run as you come back into town. I also had my number one support crew of Karen and our friends’ dog Hero to encourage me.
The run went quite well and I managed to overtake a couple of runners ahead of me but was past by one other. The aim then was to keep him in sight and hope he fatigued. It was close at the end with him only 40m ahead of me. However I just didn’t have the legs to catch him in the final sprint so finished in 11th place overall, just 1 minute off 5 hours overall. So close. Still the home made organic speciality ice cream after was a real highlight!
July saw me fall off my MTB and slice my knee so the next race suffered from lack of training, less said the better. August was back to Swanage where my lack of training showed and I came in at my usual time of 2:30. A week later was a trip to Weymouth for the classic Tri. Despite my running being off parr I managed to go 4 minutes faster than 3 years previously, so I was quite please with that. The next step was Ironman Italy which you can read about here.
Take a look in a full length mirror at yourself and see if the following applies to you.
A commonly seen aberrant posture in clinic is one where your foot is turned out, the arm on the same side is held slightly flexed at the elbow and is rotated inwards so that you can see more of the back of the hand than the other side when looking face on. The same shoulder will also be held forwards. Typically this is due to weakness of the anti-gravity muscles down one side of the body and is a milder presentation than Pyramidal Weakness found in some typical stroke patients.
The anti-gravity postural muscles hold the shoulder back and rotate the arm outwards. They also lift the leg and foot from the floor. Commonly this pattern of weakness leads to rotator cuff problems, tennis elbow, hip pain, shin splints etc. If you have had any of these problems or get them repeatedly despite having had treatment then you possibly have a functional weakness of a relay area in the brain called the Ponto-Medullary-Reticular-Formation or PMRF for short.
You can have as much Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy or whatever other therapy you like, but if the weakness is established the problem will keep recurring. Why? Because the brain will keep pulling you into the poor posture. If you are exercising and getting stronger you will have less symptoms, but push it hard and you’ll be likely to get your injury again. This is because the area in the brain will fatigue one side faster than the other and your control will diminish. The result, yet another injury. Just think how many sports people have struggled through their careers with hard to treat injuries. The list is endless.
By specifically treating to enhance function in this area we can help to restore normal function. If we combine this with visual exercises we can help to hard wire the pathways to strengthen them. This requires repeated stimulation over a short period to get the nerves to express genes that lead to growth of new connections. It won’t happen without repetition.
So if you’ve ever had a car accident or a whiplash type injury from sports such as horse riding, skiing, boarding and obviously boxing then you may be prone to these problems. If you’ve ever had a concussion or been knocked out the chances of this are significantly increased.
Make sure you find someone who can look at these patterns to help you for the longer term and not just a quick fix.
Last week (April 2015) a study was published in the British Medical Journal that got a lot of headlines. An analysis of 13 quality trials showed that Paracetomol is no better than a placebo for treating back pain, arthritic pain and disability. What’s more, those patients regularly taking Paracetomol for back pain or arthritis were 4 times as likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests. So taking this medication for your pain will make you less healthy.
Similarly taking Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen can lead to health problems related to gastro-intestinal inflammation. Interestingly Aspirin did not cause inflammation of the small intestine (2). This inflammation leads to increased permeability of the intestine. If you consider that the intestine is the barrier between you and your food, bacteria and powerful enzymes it’s good to keep it healthy.
If larger molecules cross the gut wall they can stimulate your immune system to attack them. Unfortunately, this reaction can then continue on similar molecules within you. Therefore increased gut permeability (caused by expression of a protein called Zonulin) contributes to the development of auto-immune diseases such as coeliac disease and diabetes type 1. (3) It has also been recently hypothesised that joint inflammation in relatively benign osteo-arthritis is also a product of this process. If that is the case then taking Nsaids could actually contribute to the cause of the problem you are taking it for.
The research paper from the BMJ recommended exercise and manipulation to help stay pain free. Manipulation stimulates the nerves that regulate muscle tone and also inhibits pain. Most people will have pain from either over doing things or not doing enough. So if you are not active start by taking walks and then think about swimming, cycling and general workouts. Build up slowly over time and you will soon start feeling better. If you are a weekend warrior make sure you do regular consistent exercise to build up your conditioning or you will get injured. If you do have pain don’t take painkillers and NSAIDS. Use Ice, get help from an expert who understands biomechanics, athletic training, neurology, anatomy, diagnosis in other words us!! Don’t pop a pill, it will make you less healthy in the long run. If something’s wrong find out what and why and do something constructive about it. Your liver, kidneys and gut will thank you for it.
So, when you consider all of the above it is crazy to take paracetomol and anti-inflammatories as part of your training. Pain is there to warn you. If you listen to it properly it can be your best friend as it will keep you healthy and aware of issues before they become established. If you ignore your warning systems you are heading for trouble.
Yes!! Studies have shown the efficacy of taking a concentrated turmeric formulation (4). Turmeric contains Curcumins which have been shown to reduce inflammatory cascades in the early phases of inflammation. It is not heat stable so cooking will nullify it’s effects. So a curry on the way home is not good practice. It won’t act instantly like a drug but is a useful supplement to help with a number of problems caused by inflammation if taken daily. We stock it as part of our holistic approach to improving musculo-skeletal health.
For more information on any of the above topics contact us on 01202 733355 or email us.
(1) Machado GC, Maher CG, Ferreira PH et al. Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials.The BMJ 2015;350:h1225. doi:10.1136/bmj.h1225.