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Entries in Health (5)

A more than subtle reminder | Lessons in idiocy

I have taken, taken more, and taken yet again….way more than my proverbial fill. Consider me a glutton who continually would take from my body’s resources…and never gave back.

And to think the only thing I want out of all of this bike stuff is to pop wheelies and shred with my friends. To be the 50+ year old dad some day railing with my sons in Fruita or God knows where.

The past month I had a wake up call. Extremely scary and all demonstrable of the fact that living in fast forward for almost 20 straight years of riding, training and racing yet never giving back to my body what it needs to continue doing it. What happened? Well, let me explain…and I’m sure many of you will immediately know what I am talking about…

Race. Train. Ride. Race. Rest a bit. Train. Train. Ride. Eat Well. Race. Race. Train. Ride more.

Notice anything here? Lots and lots of on the bike volume. Some rest and thankfully due to my unbelievable wife, supreme nutrition.

But all this time: NO BODY CARE. No stretching, massage, yoga…NOTHING. And all the while my muscles getting stronger…but only in their repetitive planes of motion. Yanking, pulling, melding with one another into singular masses of muscle doing the same repetitions over and over. My regular routine was this…

  • Train my butt off during the week…typically before work hours.
  • Immediately shower and get back into work, slumped over my computer, or trapped in a tortuous seat on some airplane.       
  • Race on weekends
  • Rinse and repeat for, oh ~20 years.

About a year ago, I’d finish a cross and my back would essentially be seized. As in ‘Robotic back.’ No real pain per se, just effectively rigor mortis of the back. Stiff as a board. It’d ‘fade away’ eventually so I never got concerned. I’d had no serious bike fit changes so attributed it to a case of the O.L.D. ™ Michael Robson.

Fast forward. About a month ago, the pain settled in. Truly (like I’ve heard it said before) like a stabbing pain. Right in the “Q-L” (quadratus lumborum) above my hip bone (the iliac crest).  It was immobilizing. No sleep, difficulty walking, sitting, lying, bending over. A cripple.

And yes, like a child I was scared and freaked out that “this is it! I think my racing is done!” (Ha…).

And yes, this is exactly why I married my wife. She did the equivalent of the bitch slap of my small brain saying: “Dude…you need to give back for everything you take. Duh.

Um, what?

And thus began my story of “The Obvious” and all the things I’ve done this past month to get back on track with the help of my wife and good friends here in town.

Here is a list of the things I am incorporating and integrating into my life which I would implore you all to do if you feel cycling is going to be one of those lifer things:

  • Stretching – I do not know about you, but I was brittle. As in could not touch my toes. I began to slowly and steadily begin a DAILY stretching routine. 
    • 20min in the AM (first thing, before breakfast). Hamstrings, IT, QL, Glutes, Psoas and back. In addition getting my thoracic area to open (e.g. to work on preventing back rounding and better breathing)
    • 40min in the evening (same pattern but integrated in strectch bands...e.g. HUGE rubber bands to help pull my legs farther)
  • Massage - OK, I admit it's a blessing having my wife be a massage therapist...but even I have to beg to get time on her table! 
    • Trigger release therapy...to essentially fire the most problematic muscles literally 'releasing' them when they get into their defensive postures to protect the body when it's reacting to muscle issues. 
  • Back Stregthening via Foundation Roots - I am on my 2nd full week of this but it is rather mind blowing. See here for info. Get yourself to a class. DO NOT fool yourself that you can watch the YouTube videos and just do it. You really need to be assisted before you go on your own so you do not wreak havoc on your back muscles. CRITICAL for lower back strength. Especially for 'cross when your back is going UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN for 60 minutes violently. 
  • Core Stregnthening – I am not a fat guy, but not a ripped 6 pack-core guy either. It all comes down to what’s under the surface not only of your stomach, but also of the back (see Foundation Roots above). But for core, I am doing a ton of strengthening to breath better and to generally support my body for longer periods under duress (think: a cross race). 
  • Physical Therapy - This was SO instrumental for my recovery. I visited my good friend, amazing PT and fellow 'crosser Charlie Merrill as he is the 'guru'. I was crippled and his treatment of physical therapy was amazing. I am working on plans with Charlie for 'maintenence' as well. The core of his work was:
    • PT via deep manipulation of my muscles via slow and methodic pulling and stretching. 
    • Dry Needle Therapy- 6cm acupuncture needles deep within the muscles to literally/directly trigger and release them. It was the spark to get them to release deeply along with my wife's trigger release massage (deep...but not as deep as the needles can go). 

So what does all this mean: More work. I need to put back in the till what I take out. It means that I need to tack on and carve out times of day where I need to focus on this. More balance needed so I can ensure my family and work needs are met, but allowing time for these critical things I need to do to keep rolling. And that means what you see above is now a forever part of my life. Many of you will read this and undoubtedly say: No shit, dumbass. But what can I say? I'm a full-gas guy and thus am paying for my sins blazing in fast forward all these years. But alas, I see the magic to this type of body maintenance and the benefits are already surfacing. 

Hope it helps you in "planning for prevention!"

Balancing act

I just got through reading local boy Jason Sumner's latest update on VeloNews about his exploits as a worker-bee and bike racer. He's got a multi-part series dedicated to how getting a coach and working on his personal performance while having a job can all work out. Sound familiar? I'll have to pick his brain when we hook up.

His coach, Neal Henderson is an old friend and former RockyMount'r and in the article says some prolific things regarding obsessing. Trust me, I am the uber-candidate for obsessing. To be frank, I am called 'One Speed' by family and close friends. Not because I ride a single speed, but due to the fact I do everything at one speed: fast and frenetic. It's only as of late when the very first grey hairs started popping out of my head that I suddenly realized that chilling a bit actually allows for a better overall 'experience' on all 3 parts of my precarious teeter totter.

Before being coached properly, I would ride virtually every ride full gas. EVERY ride. More more more!! I wasn't thinking slow may = quality because my identification with training was throwing down with friends until we made our ears bleed and we were shelled. Then, of course, when I'd try and race, i'd get demolished and get psychotic and pissed. I'd be the surly monster in the house and 'that grumpy guy' at work. ALL of which is NOT me! I am still the boy who is the human equivalent of a Labrador Retriever who's fat tail is always wagging. Right? (say: Right, Greg)

So a change of focus on MANY areas of my life has significantly helped me. First getting coached...and by a real coach who appreciates my psyche, my real condition...my world. More specifically, one who isn't obsessing in parallel with my obsessions such as solely focusing on my wattage, heart rate, body weight and and caloric data each week. I love the fact that the first things we discuss when we get together to talk about my training week is to understand how I am sleeping and what my external stress is like. When THAT is discussed first...and often occupies the core of the conversation...it proves that the understanding of my situation when trying to be at the top of my game is clear and deeply factored in. I feared that getting a coach would be paramount to being put on some boiler-plate plan, when the plan was likely modeled after a successful (likely pro) athlete who does NOT have the life condition I have or most 37 year old daddy/husband/worker bees. My plan is constantly tweaked and course-corrected week after week while keeping the goals I have in mind and in focus....and on target.

Second, stepping back and embracing my Type A-ness helped. Again, my WHOLE life from being a 6 year old kid who would go from hockey to soccer to baseball practice in one day (and LOVING it) has seemingly not changed in 30 years. So, realizing I can chill, that my 'racing' side of the teeter totter doesn't mean I need to be at the pointy end of the pro ride here in town (and being n Boulder is ridiculous by the way when the pro ride is essentially Toyota United, Health Next etc...). I needed to get real! Also, realizing that going for a ride...I mean a ride where my heart is not in my throat and am cross eyed is amazing and utterly needed. Seeing the trees on my 29'er or single speed...and by intent not affixing a power meter or wearing a heart rate device on my MTB rides was a saving grace. I preserve my MTB-ing for assurance of grins. I also injected running into the frey. I HATE running. But now I...holy crap...I LIKE running. Yikes. I said it. It changes things up tremendously for me vis-a-vis my workouts and the muscles used to stay fit.

Third, I'd say that communication has played a HUGE part in the over-all chillness. What I specifically mean here is that I never in the past communicated or would think to give advanced notice to my wife about my plans, my goals...even what kinds of rides I would be doing in the upcoming week. Example: the LAST thing a young mother who also wants to work out, have some alone time, etc wants to hear from me on Saturday morning: "Oh, yeah, um honey, I was going to do this 6 hour training ride today. Um, can you like have the kids again all day?" Being a shit head and not being sensitive to anyone outside of ME was a continual recipe for disaster and definitely wrecked what could have been some fun weekends. Bike racing is utterly one dimensional. You have to have total focus and unfortunately it is very selfish. Getting real about who I am is extremely important to my success. So, my wife and I TALK. She knows EXACTLY what I have planned for the week, and I know her desires, and there are NO surprises. We balance out our personal time and create and communicate the need for windows where we do our 'work outs' and ensure we have full on kid/together time. HUGE positive impact for all of us.

Fourth, I'd say that getting some help for my aging body has helped IMMENSELY! Working with Dr. Dave and spending some time on some ailing bones and muscles is helping hugely. I wish I hadn't waited! It has helped immeasurably so replacing a workout session with some chiropractic and massage TLC is so core and key, I can't recommend it enough.

Lastly, life is short. And while I like to play hard, being 'present' for my family and my wife and not a surly obsessive weenie is what is going to ensure the cement at our core is unbreakable and will carry us through until we are crusty blue-hairs in a retirement home together being spoon fed applesauce by a nurse. The winner of the 'race' is who is truly happiest at the end with no regrets.

Right?

Comin' back around again!

Dr. Dave: Muscle Whisperer. Things are radically progressing with each visit. As Dr. Dave works on opening up muscles via the nervous connections which provide messages to them....and return messages from them providing key feedback to the brian on how they are performing. I see and feel more and more results. I actually WALK different now! Crazy CRAZY.

I am not "training" but staying fit and riding most lunchtimes until I start burying myself in a month's time. So I did a Lunchtime ride up Betasso. The beginning of Betasso, called the 'Link Trail' launches straight up from Canyon up this 20% dodgy, technical, rock strewn path for I would say roughly 700 meters or so straight up. It's a slog for sure. With a couple of visits from Dr. Dave in me, I launched up this thing and felt so precise and balanced....with no leg pain to speak of and with a lot more continuous power. Absolutely crazy. Smiles abound. The section was cleaned and I kept tempo throughout the ride feeling great throughout. More work to do for sure. The soreness after the visits is there...good sore, not pain, but enough to show me that there is real stuff going on.

So why do I write this and the prior posts? Listen to yourself! In my case, I listened to my wife...but I digress. If something's going on, don't wait. Go work on the problem.

Disregard this post if you are racing me this season.

Photo Credit: TrailCentral

Freight train

Yesterday was my first post-data gathering visit to Dr. Dave. Progress!!! I am a sore mo-fo this AM. Like a freight train hit me. But in sincerity, not 'pain', but rather a balanced 'soreness' like you feel from a deep workout.

Dr. Dave got me settled in at lunchtime yesterday and we began with strengthening exercises and tests. These sessions are like mini workouts! He gets my legs in various positions and has me push back against the force he is laying in on me with. Left side = weak/ right side = strong. He's going all out with his body weight, and I am going full guns against him. Again, full on work out.

He then got me into position and did some adjustments. My God. I did not know I had bone/cartilage where the settling and re-positioning came back into line after his adjustments. Think of an itch you need to scratch but could never get to. Dr. Dave nailed it. We then proceed to do his well known laser therapy followed by some final strengthening exercises and tests to gauge the impact of the treatments. Immediately the power is coming back!! It is amazing. That left leg felt like it had another 30% 'depth' to push back on. Like a light switch. After I was finished, I basically hi-fived with Ivan Stevic as I got off the table and he jumped on for his treatment. Sorry about the sweat, Ivan.

So, more treatments to come but the time Dr. Dave spends with me on telling me EXACTLY where I am at, what's going on and how step by step he's going to correct the problem is amazing. He wants me back to peak performance ASAP...which means getting the treatments clustered together to ensure he and I see results. His goal is to get me OUT of his office for good in lieu of making it a need to have permanently....although an adjustment now and then will be good. Everyone needs a Dr. Dave in their corner.

Broken...but not out!

Tons to tell sports fans. A day of 'awakening'.

So as previously blogged, I'd been having this awful left leg pain. Sort of centered in the ass but down the hammy and into the shin. Listening to friends, I went and saw Dr. Dave Boynton at North Boulder Chiropractic. Long story short: the guy is awesome. On my first visit, we did some bench marking tests on stregnth and some data gathering. No corrections, just getting to the cause through data gathering.

Today, as he suggested, I did a light recovery spin in the AM before my next lunchtime appointment. The leg wasn't too troublesome. It never is when going easy. Today would be another day of more advanced data gathering in my hour long visit at lunch.

I showed up and he's prepared for me. We go into lab-like room and I strip down and he proceeds with the first series of tests to look at what's firing and what's not. Dr. Dave affixed a number of electrodes to me and I proceeded to do some movements to look at how the muscles were firing. Amazing. Absolutely imbalanced. One 1/2 of my back firing madly, the other virtually NOTHING. Dr. Dave continued with more tests to look at temperature readings and other like tests to look at balance of the muscles to ensure there is a discrepancy in their work load. Again. all tests showed again that one 1/2 the back is working overtime, the other 1/2 as if it were dead.

The the 'test of truth': The X Ray. Dr. Dave takes a bunch of pictures and low and behold, there in all it's digitized beauty is obvious sources of my problems:
See that red line? My spine should be following that fairly exactly. So, now you can see how hard my muscles in my back are compensating to pull and keep corrected. There is likely a nerve being pushed on due to all this which is wreaking havoc on my left leg and Dr. Dave is going to get me sorted out over the next few visits. The curve is likely due to a number of things but exacerbated by my crash in the first week of last season. That followed up within 2 weeks with another spectacular beauty crash.

So, now I know. And I THANK Dr. Dave for all his attention. He is the 'Muscle Whisperer.'