Rest and recovery can sometimes be harder for me than full-on training. I just don’t do it very well. For that matter, I don’t do sit around and relax very well either. There is usually some excuse I can come up with to go out and do something physically challenging. I separated my left shoulder in a high-speed encounter with an oak tree trying to stay on the leader’s wheel in a cyclocross race in December when my front wheel washed out on a pile of acorns. I separated my right shoulder in an ill-advised meathead move on a “cool down” lap through a sand pit in Kingsport, Tennessee 3 days before my race in at Nationals in Asheville. Entirely avoidable, totally unnecessary – I just wanted to see how far I could get through the pit at full speed. Since Nationals was the focus of my entire year of training, that race was going to happen for me no matter what; in spite of whatever pain I was experiencing.
Here it is February. I finally went to see my doctor several weeks ago and he confirmed the extent of both shoulder injuries. Give yourself 3 or 4 weeks of gentle recovery and you’ll be fine, he said. It’s hard for me to keep a positive attitude when everything I do hurts – especially sleeping on either side or walking a few miles or reaching for a glass. Strangely, riding a bike doesn’t hurt too badly but I know it can’t be helping me. I’m trying to rest and recover without losing all of my fitness. There’s always a good argument to minimize down time but this is a huge challenge for me. Friends are calling or stopping by to go riding. I was even thinking of scheduling my long overdue third hernia operation now so that I would be absolutely forced to rest and recover in time for the spring cycling season.
It’s depressing to see fitness draining away out of your body knowing how much work will have to be done to get it back. I’ve been through this many other times – usually after one type of injury or illness or other life event – but recovery times seem to get longer with each passing year. Injuries from a year or two ago are still nagging me. I had one doctor a few years ago advise me to stop training and racing; just ride for fun. “You’re getting kind of old for this sort of thing,” he counseled. I had another doctor suggest that I amputate a toe that was chronically painful due to some torn ligaments.
Here’s an idea – how about we throw away our notions of aging and continue to live and train and race as long as it’s fun? When I get to the point where the costs far outweigh the benefits, I’ll consider taking up golf or darts or maybe even tournament Parcheesi. Just think of the bizarre injuries you could get doing that!