Monday Musing 22: Detraining

Monday Musing 22: Detraining

The metric my Garmin has been spewing at me for the last month. In the first few weeks, it was easy to swallow, having just come off an 85-mile vision quest followed by a wedding the next weekend. But every morning since, my watch reminds me that I’m underslept (usually) and letting my fitness fade.

These metrics aren’t completely accurate or productive if you are at risk of the data-wormhole like I am; but in this case, I am definitely letting fitness seep from me with every passing day, even though the running season is just around the corner.

On Friday, March 24th, I get stem cells to repair a torn labrum that was damaged in the 2021 CCC, and for the degenerative discs in my low back that undoubtedly aided the labral tear.

Since CCC in 2021, when I discovered the labral tear, I have received over ten different treatment plans spanning from, “nothing a little PT won't fix” to surgery with an 8-month return to running period post-op. Phew.

After almost two years of trying to manage pain with PT, I am opting for a solution somewhere in between the extremes. A long recovery, but not so long that I’ll be out for the summer racing season. And a solution that I am fairly optimistic about. But one that also took a lot of trial and error to come to.

The tricky thing is that sometimes, if I am not traveling, not working on anything other than training, and not sitting or standing for too long, my hip doesn’t even hurt in the day to day. In a perfect world, my hip is just fine. And with a normal amount of exercise and activity, it would also probably be fine.

But my lifestyle is abnormal. I run a 100-mile race and try to run them fast. I also hold multiple jobs and am pursuing projects outside of professional running. I also have to travel a lot as part of my sponsor contracts and to race internationally.

My doctor described it as a weak wifi signal. It works, but throw a t-shirt over the modem or stress it with more than one user, and your wifi signal is going to fail.

I can walk and even run a little and live a normal life. But anytime I have pushed my body, it has failed. Or at the very least, held me back from performing at my best.

No matter how many hours I spend doing PT and strength training, my left side doesn’t have power. It feels like it’s dragging or, best case, just doesn’t feel right. When I run for more than I few hours, even on my best day, my left side starts to shut down. When I am racing, putting my body through the max of what is possible for me, it’s clear that I need to fix these injuries somehow and that PT alone is not going to cut it.

But after a good night's sleep, some bodywork, and a run, it’s easy to forget my mid-race or workout frustration.

Going in for a voluntary six(ish) weeks off running, while still being able to run is hard and more confusing than I could have known. I am choosing to walk into a procedure that will take away the best part of my day for over a month, even though I ran this morning and felt fine. I am choosing to detrain in April when my I should be deep in a summer-racing training block. This is hard.

For a long time, I have been talking the talk. Setting big, audacious goals, followed up with training hard, and exclaiming how badly I wanted to achieve them. Committing to this procedure, this time of voluntary time off, might be the first time I’ve walked the walk.

To be truly committed to a goal, or the pursuit of a goal, which is ultimately what is most fulfilling, is to sacrifice for it. Taking these 6-weeks off, while I am otherwise healthy and able to run, is showing true commitment. Anyone can set a goal and work for it. The hard part is to sacrifice for it.

Wish me luck as I embark on these 6-weeks of productive detraining. If you need me, I will be flexing my new-found maturity or trying to remind myself of it when it all seems for not. And if you see me, remind me that patience pays off and that talk is nothing without action.