Visualizing the Problem

About 1 p.m. today I just couldn't stand being at home doing nothing.  Well, next to nothing, as I had just (finally) completed the single-player campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops.  I stared around the house, thought of the next game I should play (Red Dead Redemption or Mass Effect 2), and promptly decided it was time to brave the rain and knock my workouts off the schedule. Today's regimen called for a 45 minute light run on a soft surface along with an hour strength training session.  Because of the issues I've been having, Coach Gerardo has re-arranged my training schedule to be lighter and to focus more on recovery than pre-marathon build-up.  I think it's a wise choice, probably what I should have done all along.  Especially after my strength training session with Shannon illuminated what seems to be the real problem.  I decided to see Shannon today instead of working out on my own, primarily to ensure I was correct on form and wouldn't further aggravate any niggling injuries.  I brought my iPhone so we could take photos of some of the exercises, and to see if we could spot problems worth pointing out to my ART therapist and Gerardo.

Boy, did we find them.

As you can see, it's clear that my right leg bows outward while the knee cap over-rotates inward.  Further, you can also see in the following images that my right hip is not firing in alignment with my left hip.  My left side is generally stronger than my right, perhaps because the left leg is a full inch longer.

I think the next step is to re-examine my exercises, the weights involved, my training in general and customize a plan to allow me to regain some semblance of better alignment before I resume full-blown Ironman training. I'll admit that I'm a little scared about whether my body can handle the ultra-distance aspect of this sport.  Clearly, IMAZ and the training that led up to it took quite a toll -- far beyond what I expected.  These problems seem to be serious and I don't want to risk long-term damage to my body for short-term glory.  Then again, I don't think we did enough strength training last year or even yoga, so perhaps this is the logical effect of too much cardio and not enough strengthening.  Shannon even indicated she thought my legs looked thinner and that I've lost a lot of balance and strength since we were training together regularly more than a year ago.  Though we laughed about it during some of the exercises, it's still disheartening to hear yet I know she's right.  I can sense it for myself.  I'm not really using weights on some chest exercises, for example, opting for the lightest resistance bands and still having a hard time maintaining balance.

As I've mentioned this week, I'm doing my best to keep my head up and stay strong mentally.  I'm training myself to accept that I have a new challenge -- regaining health, strength and mobility -- and that my real goal needs to remain Ironman Coeur d'Alene. That means the LA Half Marathon, Surf City, Wildflower Long Course, and whatever else comes my way between now and June 26, 2011 are gravy.  One race matters this year, and I need to focus on being physically and mentally prepared for it.

Now that I can visualize the problem, I need to visualize a new journey while redefining what "success" may be.

It's tough to swallow at the moment, but if I've learned one thing from all this training and introspection it's that hurdles or setbacks make the accomplishment sweeter.

Who knows, maybe Ironman Coeur d'Alene will be even more meaningful to me than Ironman Arizona?

For now, I'll just focus on trying to get better and recovered, one day at a time.

183 days and counting.