Technical Break Down
Triathlon is an endlessly technical enterprise. Swimming is the most technical sport I know — fluid dynamics is a mindbender — yet it is almost equipment free. From hand placement, kick rate, body position, where and when to breathe to the dynamics of flowing right over the water instead of plowing through it, swimming is a head game and an exercise in constant adjustments.
If I were a better cyclist or runner, I’m sure I’d be more aware of the technique involved there. There is certainly elements of posture that matter in each. Smooth cycling has a pedal stroke that literally glides around the bottom bracket. I know enough of cycling to know that it attracts some of the most gear-centric techno geeks I’ve ever encountered. How aero, how many grams, which component set, where are your bottles, what frame material and on and on, the questions don’t end. When you add on top to each of the disciplines, there are the effects of endurance training and cross training muscles. Good cycling legs are not necessarily good running legs. A strong torso to pull through the water is dead weight going up a hill. Even so, I don’t think much about triathlon so much as I do triathlon during training.
Sunday I had a major breakdown during my long run. The plan for 2:45 of running turned into 55 minutes running and 1:10 of limping back toward home and civilization. I thought a lot of bad thoughts. Do I have a stress fracture? Have I pulled a muscle? How will I get home from here? Is this all down the drain — the training, the time, the money, the energy?
Subsequently, I was picked up by some Samaritans and delivered to safety after limping along for more than an hour. I spoke with a therapist and got instructions for treatment. I’ll check in with him again tomorrow. I’m icing my leg now. I’m almost certain the problem can be resolved. But that, and more details on the breakdown, is another post entirely.
Ironically, the problem is probably the result of training and technique. All of the volume — the miles upon miles — can lead to poor form. When you are tired, perhaps more tired than you even realize, small tweaks in how you run and where you place a foot creep into your stride. Stress than didn’t show up on a joint, muscle or tendon for the first 100 miles of a month can evidence only after the technique falls apart. Does your neck ache? Well, did you run for two hours looking down five feet in front of yourself instead of with your shoulders back and chin up?
If you see me limping along this week, don’t ask how I’m doing. The answer is frustrated, a little upset and impatient. Also, if my pant leg is wet it is from the icepack. Honest.
There is less than four weeks until the big day and I just discovered this little gem is available. Perhaps I’ll read it tonight since I won’t be out doing the regularly scheduled run.