An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya?

Often times people will decry their bad luck in getting injured while training, or blame luck for a mechanical mishap during a race.

However, I think that luck, the alignment of the planets, the month you were born (or year, if you're one of the 2 billion Chinese), or that cast-iron bitch named Karma have nothing to do with it (unless, of course, your name really IS Karma).

If you want some one to blame, splash your face with water and take a look up. Yep, that now-dripping visage staring back at you is the one to blame.

The fact is that most mechanicals in races are the result of one of three things -- lack of maintenance, forcing a shift, or not doing a shake-down cruise. A bike is a machine, like your car. It needs periodic maintenance. Cables rust if not greased, and will eventually fail. Chains wear (contrary to popular thinking, they do not "stretch", it's wear at the pivots that causes it get longer), and if allowed to go too far, will start skipping on the gears. Worn gears will skip. Brake pads wear. Rims get thinner as the brake pads wear away at them (especially when ridden in wet environments). Ignore these things at your peril.

Likewise, there's an adage that says "nothing new on race day". Installing that new whatever on your bike right before a race is a recipe for disaster. Are you sure it's in the right place? Are you sure that cable tension is dialed in? Bolts torqued properly? Many of these things won't show up until you get on the bike and put a few miles on it. You don't want to be half-way into a tri course when that happens.

And those training injuries? Ninety percent of training injuries are due to a very small set of circumstances, all of which are under your control -- training methods, or lack of attention. Step off a curb wrong or into a rut and twist your ankle? Well, watch where you're stepping! Overuse injuries? Back off the mileage build-up! Knee issues? Likely due to overstriding! See something in common here? All these things are under your control.

Lest anyone think I'm getting preachy because some whiner wrote me a long-winded sob story... Nope. I'm talking to myself. Full disclosure time. Remember that shin issue I was talking about a couple weeks ago? Turns out it's something between periostitis and a stress reaction (and if it had gone long enough, would have become a stress fracture).

Yep. That was totally in my control. I could have taken more time off before it got to where I could barely walk. I could have stopped when the pain first showed up, instead of thinking I could push through it and hit 1000 miles by the end of the year (I ended up 2.5 miles short -- so close and yet so far). I didn't need to do three long-ish runs in a row, especially since I was already chopping my stride to run at all. Now I've got another 3 weeks in "the boot" before I can even start walking normally. Another week after than and I'll start running again.

I felt that today was a good day to give you the good news and the bad news.

The bad news first: It's all in your control.

Now the good news: It's all in your control.

Happy Friday the 13th!

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