Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 29: Review

Now at the end of my first week back into training and the foot is feeling much better. It's still not 100% and I have to be careful with it, but getting the ankle moving again seems to be helping to make it more comfortable. I'm thinking that a lot of the discomfort last week wasn't so much the bone itself, but tightness in the connective tissues around it as they've basically been locked in one position for a month and a half. Fortunately, I don't appear to have lost nearly as much strength as I had expected so getting back into my routine is going to be easier than expected. I'm by no means as strong as I was before, but it is nowhere near starting from scratch.

In the water this week, I managed to squeeze in two sessions (Tuesday and Friday). While I'm a good deal slower than I was before the interruption, my stamina seems to (mostly) be intact and swimming for the entire session at my previous effort levels doesn't appear to be an issue. As this is the one sport where I can go full bore if I'd like, this is good as it will allow me to use the pool to help rebuild my cardiovascular strength ahead of ramping up the other two disciplines.

In an effort to train a bit smarter, however, I've taken to breaking my swim up into smaller bits and doing a more structured workout. My approach for the last few years has been to stick to long sets, but the more I read about this sort of training the more I get the impression that that was a mistake. Prior to the injury I had been stuck at a 2:00/100m pace for a long while, so I'm hoping that this new approach will allow me to eventually break through that barrier.

On the bike, I started out with an easy ride around the subdivision on Wednesday. That allowed me to stick with flat ground for the time being (as I was advised to avoid big hills as I started up) and test things out safely. Fortunately, everything felt great on that ride so it also helped to buoy my confidence a bit. It wasn't, however, a good ride to evaluate my fitness as the nature of residential streets doesn't lend itself to that (too much starting up and slowing down to get a feel for what is sustainable).

As such, on Saturday I headed out for a longer ride on some rural roads to get a better feel for where I was at. As it's nearly impossible to avoid hills from where I live, I drove out a few kilometers to get past them and headed out from there. Needless to say, it felt great to get back out on the open road. While I've certainly lost some degree of power, I was still able to comfortably maintain cruising speeds above 30km/h so I'm not too far back. My stamina at higher speeds (~40km/h+) has definitely taken a hit, but at this point I'm just happy I can still hit those speeds.

The one tricky part with the ride was that I wasn't able to get out in the morning, and it was a hot and humid day with full sun. When I broke my foot in mid-May, it was still the early days of summer so the downtime meant that I didn't get a chance to gradually acclimatize to the full-bore summer weather. As such, fighting through the heat was, and will continue to be, a challenge over the next little while. For the time being, I will have to redouble my efforts to get out early and keep it as cool as possible.

The other caveat is that my gears are still acting up on me. Shortly before my injury, I had my front derailleur cable replaced but when I took it for a ride the chain was rubbing when in the big ring and anything smaller than the 6th cog. I didn't get around to getting that addressed until last week, and it was working fine when I tested it outside of the shop. Unfortunately, on both of my rides this week it was doing the same thing so it's likely going to have to go back in. The result is that I basically have a big gap in my gearing and riding anywhere between 28 and 40km/h requires sub-optimal cadences.

I'm not sure if it's just the cable stretching out on me, or if it's something to do with how I'm putting it in the car but I'll have to talk with them about it when I go back. I've picked up a book on bicycle maintenance and am working on figuring this stuff out, but I'm reticent to mess around with the shifting until I have a better understanding. With that said, I'd like to take a more active role in keeping it in good condition as doing it yourself is always the best way to be sure that it's done right.

Week 29 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Cycling: 56.7km (35.2mi)
Swimming: 6.2km (3.9mi)
Total: 62.9km (39.1mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 758.6km (471.35mi)
Walking: 28.4km (17.6mi)
Cycling: 2127.1km (1321.7mi)
Swimming: 148.9km (92.5mi)
Total: 3063.0km (1903.3mi)

Longer term, I'm hoping to get back together with my normal group for a ride next weekend. As most of them did races in Peterborough last week, they're still in a recovery phase right now so it's a good match for my rebuilding. Naturally, we will have to avoid the bigger hills for the time being, but I don't think it will be necessary to avoid them entirely as there was no hint of pain on either ride.

If I have the time, I'd also like to give water running a shot as it might be a good way to rebuild that part of my fitness up without having to worry about the foot. While it looks like an incredibly boring way to spend a workout, it's about the only way that I'll be able to keep my running strength up. I will probably be adding some walking this week which will help, but that doesn't cover all of the muscles that running does.

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