Sunday, September 12, 2010

Recent Lessons

1. I started this week yet another cycle of Syn-Visc type injections into my left knee (I actually use a different brand now). Another injection tomorrow and again on the 20th and I'll be good to go for another 4-6 months. Back in 2005 my orthopod said, upon examing my x-rays that it was time to move on from triathlon to something more appropriate for an arthritic knee--something like golf. Since Anders was just really getting into it with me and I felt like I had a lot more to accomplish I demanded a different answer. These injections (now numbering over 40) have been that answer. Since my golf prescription, I have completed 73 more triathlons including 6 Ironman and 14 half-Ironman. In recent years, as my knee pain flares up from time to time, I've contemplated that once I reached 100 triathlons that I would "retire" or at least dramtically wind down my triathlon commitment.

A strange blessing this year has been all the issues stemming from my bike accident--especially my hip problems. These were significant limiters this year but they did cast in a clearer light the limitations that my knee places on my triathlon training and racing. Bottom line--those limitations are not really that much. Sure, I have to run a lot less than "I should" or want to but I have been able to enjoy a modest level of success over the last few years despite this limitation. Further, the injections work well enough that most of the time my runs are relatively pain-free ("knee-wise"). Lesson learned, retirement is not imminent and while I am focused like a laser on Kona, I've also begun to think about an aggressive 2011 season.

2. If you define fitness as the ability to do well something that you want to do, then in terms of swim racing in a triathlon I am fitter than I have ever been. Over the last couple of weeks, I've learned that my time away from the pool has cost me 2-4 seconds per 100 on my interval work, but my focus on tempo based, long-distance open-water swimming has really refined my ability to do just that. Further, as my last two races indicate, while I've become very competitive at the sprint distance (400 yards), my real strength is now in longer swims (1 mile+). In other words, my emphasis on distance training has cost me some top end speed, but as the distance gets longer, I don't slow down as much as others and I become relatively more competitive.

My swim fitness is approaching my bike fitness and I think I'll probably begin to play around quite a bit more with the Olympic distance next year.

3. Specificity, while a central tenet of training philosophy, is not the only thing necessary for my future success in triathlon. I'll still mostly SBR, but I now know, from this summer's lessons, that I'll have to incorporate an on-going program of core-fitness and flexibility training to maintain my ability to get up every day and do the training work I want to do. So that will be a more important component of training in 2011--not as a response to an injury like this year, but as a preventative measure and perhaps as a way to build my ability to perform at a higher level.

4. After yesterday's race, I know I'm on the right path and that I will be ready for Kona--bring it on!

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