#1 pitfall in self coaching

About a week and a half ago I had a little mishap at the gym. I was about to finish my 4th set of squats when I felt this small sting in my groin. It turned out to be a slightly pulled adductor. This whole thing did not come out of the blue. I had already been given an early warnings few days before (small cramp in the same area) and a red flag (tightness in the adductor) after the 3rd set that very same day. Why did I fail to listen to those early warning signals?

IMG_1908The other day I read an article about Do’s and Dont’s of coaching. The punchline “the training session begins the second the athlete walks in the door” caught my attention. The accompanying text discussed about coaches’ need to probe the athlete’s readiness – physical and mental – to define the best training session for the athlete today. I couldn’t help feeling a little sting when thinking about discussions I’ve had with myself at the gym door. The topic has rarely been about should I do the planned session or not. If I have one,  it is to give myself a swift kick in the butt in order to reach the desired state of mind.

Why is it so hard to listen to yourself? And even harder to adjust, or totally alter the plan? For a self coached athlete the time for discussions and plan changes has long passed when you’re at the doorstep of the training facility, all pumped up and ready to go. In general, to me any discomfort related to plan adjustments are related to what the plan stands for. It is the path to an achieved goal – to win something or someone, usually myself. Doing anything less would mean you’re not up to the task. Recognising this personal attribute hopefully helps me in further increasing the built in wiggle room in my own planning. The other side of the coin, equally important one is the nature of the sport. Being a stressed out wreck makes a killer cocktail when combined with heavy sprints or barbel training. I learned this the hard way.

What about those red flags during a training session then? This late mild groin injury of mine is a perfect example of why those red flags are meant to be taken seriously. In a worst case scenario I’d be working my way through a significant adductor tear. The initial recovery and rehab period would probably be two weeks or so. I’d be on the second week now. supercompensationThen I’d face a period, maybe from few weeks to couple of months, trying to get back to the point where I was before the mishap.
Instead of missing a set at the gym and perhaps a tiny bit of super-compensation, I’d be looking at missing several weeks to few months of steady progress. How about that for a trade off.

So heres a mental note to self: In the case of mid session red flag the answer to the question “Should I try to finish the session as planned?” is always “NO!“. End of discussion.




Knee trouble

For the past two months or so I’ve been having issues with my right knee. The whole episode got started from a little sting in the inner side of the thigh right below the kneecap while doing squats.

Tracing down the root cause of this problem has been Pes Anserinusa dive into a pandora’s box. Let me address the first assumption: No, squatting was not the problem, it just brought the matter to surface and led me to the first real issue. My sartorius muscles were a big sore mess.

By now I have gone through a couple of off periods, an active rest period of foam rolling, trigger point therapy, stretching and RICE, and a slow ramp up back to my regular training routine. Tight sartorius muscles were fixed with the daily routine of foam roll – trigger point ball – stretching and RICE. Unfortunately the already developed tendinitis in the right side Pes Anserinus required a cortisone shot and another week off. After that the inside of the knee was finally back in shape.

Getting back on a bike and gym felt great for a small while. My knees still felt really odd. Just like having sand or something inside the knee, especially when walking up the stairs. I realised that even through my ITBs did not feel sore they were really tight and apparently kept pulling my kneecap out of its normal route (patellar tracking disorder).

What is going on in here? How did this happen as everything seemed to go so well? I’d been making a steady progress both on and off the bike since I got back to training. It seemed I had a well balanced program. I was fairly diligent with my maintenance routines, although this is an area that seems to require an ever increasing amount of attention. The cost of ageing, I suppose). So what on earth can be the root cause behind this mess?

I was on my bike wondering this whole episode when I suddenly realised the slight pressure against the inside of my heel… CLEATS! It turned out that my cleats had either moved a tiny bit or I had originally aligned them wrong. Not by much but enough to cause problems in the long run.

Do I feel stupid or what! Well, I have more than enough time to dwell on it as I now have a nasty flu to get rid of. Always something!

PS. Check out the below link. This one is about recovering from Pes Anserinus injury (or over use injuries in general). The site has interesting info on other topics too.


This has been one memorable training year – not all in a good way – and it ain’t even over yet!

It was the first week of July, three weeks before the Nationals. I was taking a shower at home after my gym session when I suddenly realized something wasn’t quite right. I found a small soft bulge in the upper right corner of the pubic bone. Oh bloody H… Hernia!! Just what I needed here!

The situation called for an expert opinion: How serious problem this was considering the demands of my sport, what kind of workouts/training would be safe to do, and the biggest of all, can I still compete?! I booked the first possible appointment with a sports medicine specialist. The news I got was not good but fortunately it was not as bad as I through it would either:

  1. Anything training that does not cause pain is ok.
  2. Cycling should be ok due to bent posture, as long as I can do it pain free.
  3. No heavy lifts that require belt, preferably no lifting at all. I had no problem leaving the weight room for now but it might become an issue when staring my preparations for the key goal of the season.
  4. No maximal exertions. This ruled out standing starts and hence eliminated Kilo from my Nats program and 750m TT until the hernia gets fixed.

Oh good. I can still compete! I was pretty optimistic at first as the bulge did not seem to trouble me much. Unfortunately my discomfort increased as the training days went by. At the eve of the Nats my left side and back was so stiff and sore I was afraid I’d have to DNS the whole event. I was feeling a bit better at the day of the comp and gave it a go. I’m glad that I did! I rode a new clear PB on F200m that earned me the 7th place on the National all time top 10 list, at the age of 43!

mandarin-citrusAlthough the hernia itself was not painful it caused a lot of discomfort and secondary issues. Week and a half after Nationals I had an appointment with a gastroenterological surgeon to discuss my options. My plan had been to wait until the season was over in mid October before getting the surgery. This plan was rewritten a minute after I finished telling it to the surgeon. He gave me a glance and explained that by that time there was a good chance the bulge would be about the size of a small tomato, or mandarin. Oh hell… Ok so the only option is to get it fixed and soon. “When can…” “How about next Thursday?”

I was on the operation table on Thursday three and a half weeks ago, back in training four days later! It took me about a week and a half to catch up, get rid of the stiffness caused by the extra days off and rapid ramp up of training volume. My lower abdominal feels stiff due to 3 extra holes below the belly button. But at least the hernia is fixed, and I can continue with my preparations!!