Part 1: A Dark Road

October 27th, 2018 by Kaitlyn Patterson

By Collin Snyder, Team Athletic Mentors cyclist

On the first Saturday in November, I will line up for the most important race of my life. I’ve raced Iceman every year for about a decade but this year will be different. I know for a fact, I will not even be close to my results of last year, however this will be my biggest victory ever.

Alice and I on the top step for Single Speed at Iceman in 2017 after finishing 2nd in wave 1

One thing most people don’t know about me is back in 2012, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. It’s an autoimmune disease that attacks the digestive tract, and can ravage an otherwise healthy body. That year, I had a bad attack, known as a flare, lost a ton of weight and strength which forced me into the hospital for a few weeks. When I eventually got back on the bike, I had to step back from 100 miler MTB races and temporarily move down a category on the road. However, I got on the right medications, and eventually returned to a normal life. I was symptom free for six years, however good things sometimes must come to an end. This April, I started to have GI issues after taking an antibiotic for a chest infection. After I finished the prescription, I figured the issues would go away. They didn’t.

For the next three months, my symptoms kept getting worse. My GI doctor started giving me stronger and stronger meds, but nothing seemed to help. By late June, it was hard to be focused at work as I would have to stop what I was doing nearly every 20 minutes to run to the bathroom. On 6/22, my anniversary, I had had enough. I called my GI doc and he said to come into my local hospital to receive IV steroids. Steroids are used as a strong immunosuppressant to keep my body from attacking itself. During my last flare, these were the magic bullet and stopped my symptoms nearly instantly. This time around, I wasn’t so fortunate. For the next two weeks they kept loading me up with steroids with little success. I was eventually discharged on July 3rd with nearly the same symptoms that I came in. Five days later, I woke up with a fever of 103.8F and told my wife it was time to go to University of Michigan to see their GI specialist.

After some imaging and analysis of my past medical history, the team at U of M re-diagnosed me with Ulcerative Colitis or UC. In the grand scheme of things, this is a slightly better diagnosis because UC can essentially be cured by surgery while with Crohn’s, a diseased organ can be removed only to have the disease pop up somewhere else in the digestive tract.  

For the next two weeks, they did everything they could. At first, things were looking promising.  I was given a super powerful drug (at nearly $20,000 a dose) and some of my blood tests started to improve. There was talk of discharging me the following week and they decided to give me one more dose of this drug for good measure. However, the day before my second dose, my blood markers started to go south again. The second dose did nothing. The team repeated some imaging and came to me with some devastating news. The medical and surgical team sat down with somber faces and said I had exhausted all medicine options. They had given me two doses of their biggest guns and imaging showed zero improvement. There was nothing left except for surgery. They would remove my entire large intestines and give me a temporary end ileostomy which means an external bag. I held it together for 2/3rds of the consultation, then I broke down in tears.

I knew that this would result in a cure, however, I was terrified of all the limitations this would lead to.

The day before surgery

For the past 12 years, my life has revolved around cycling and I couldn’t comprehend how those could coexist. The number one reason why people with this surgery end up back in the hospital is due to dehydration. With a healthy body, dehydration is already a constant concern when racing. On the family front, I have two toddlers and I worried how this would affect play time, and even how they saw me. Would I still be their superhero?

 

Check back tomorrow for the next chapter of my story.


From runner to triathlete; from injury to strength

October 26th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Chelsey Jones

“You will never run again”. “You should probably find a different sport”. “Have you thought about swimming?” Were the words I heard from numerous doctors 4 years ago. I had suffered from chronic tendonitis for 2 years up to that point and although I had been able to train through it my body had officially hit it’s breaking point. I had come to a place where I thought I was no longer going to be able to run.

Up to this point I had had many great moments as a runner. Races won, P.R.’s, pacing people to Boston qualifiers, qualifying for Boston myself, having great conversations with my friends on long runs, but oddly enough my most memorable moment as a runner was not when I was running.

It was in 2015, the day before the Grand Rapids Marathon. It was a perfect fall day. The temperature was in the 50’s, leaves at their peak color, sun shining, and I was injured -not able to run at all. Feeling extremely sorry for myself, I took off on a long bike ride. I was angry, discouraged, feeling defeated, and just very bitter. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. At this point I had been dealing with chronic tendonis in my Achilles for 2+ years and no one could seem to find an answer. I had seen multiple doctors, tried all the new and upcoming remedies/procedures, and still it wasn’t better. It just wasn’t fair.

As I was riding all I could of think of was poor me, why me, how is this fair? Heading down Kal-Haven I saw a man biking, and as I took a second look I realized that he only had one leg. Hmm. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite as sorry for myself. I still was a very healthy person, and was even able to be out biking. I kept riding and pondering things, until I came across a sign in front of a church that read “How much do you trust me?”. I’m not sure if it was fate, just good timing, or a greater power, but all of these events happening made me have an “a-ha” moment. I suddenly realized that although what I was going through was frustrating, and I didn’t understand it, everything happens for a reason. Even though I couldn’t see the big picture, everything was going to work out the way it was meant to be. I realized challenges are opportunities to build strength and character, if I choose to face them head on. In the midst of my struggles, I was learning some very important lessons. A few weeks later, I met with a surgeon in Chicago who promised me I would run again, healthy, strong, and pain free.

  After a somewhat invasive surgery where they removed 3cm of bone from the back of my heel I began the long journey to recovery. Determined and motivated to gain back all of my fitness and become a stronger athlete than what I was prior to my injury, I began cross-training. Biking, swimming, strength, and core were my main focuses. Slowly, I began getting better at each one and before I knew it I was back running again, and pain free.The day before my first triathlon, I decided to give triathlon a try. Never having swam in open water before and riding a bike that I found in my friends garage, I went off-excited and eager to just be participating in some type of event. With zero expectations I began my journey into triathlons. Each distance and discipline a new hurdle to overcome. I have been very fortunate to not only grow stronger as an athlete, but also as an individual. Setting new goals, reaching these, sharing my knowledge with others, and building amazing relationships along the way. Sometimes the things we most fear in life lead us to the greatest blessings.


2019 Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc review

October 14th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Elaine Sheikh
As I entered my first full year of competitive cycling, one thing was certain: I was due for a bicycle upgrade. This became very evident in April at the Tour of the Gila when there were no neutral wheels available to me as I was the only woman in the peloton with a 10-speed cassette! Since Liv, a sister company of Giant featuring women-specific bicycles, is a sponsor of our team, I knew I wanted to start there with my bicycle search. Fortunately, Liv offers a comprehensive line-up of race bicycles, so I knew I would find a bike that would meet my needs. After much research and vascillation, I chose the 2019 Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc. With an advanced-grade composite frame, Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset, and Giant SLR-1 Disc 30 WheelSystem, I knew I would be getting quite an upgrade from my previous race machine.

The first thing I did was upgrade the crankset from a compact to a mid-compact with a Pioneer powermeter. I knew that with the 11×30 cassette, I would have no trouble with the larger chain-rings. Otherwise, the only other change to the original product was the saddle. The wheelset comes tubeless ready, which is how I ran it.
First impressions: The bike is gorgeous, with a sleek black finish and small dark purple and gold accents. I expected the bike to be light, but I was still surprised with the lightness of the bike when I picked it up. Riding over chip seal, I found that my wrists, arms and shoulders felt remarkably less fatigue than n my previous bike. The shock absorption of the composite frame lends itself to a smooth, comfortable ride. The bike accelerates quickly, with enough stiffness to be responsive. Additionally, it is also stiff enough in the lateral planes to corner confidently. Overall, I have loved my first week with the new bicycle and can’t wait to represent Team Athletic Mentors and Liv bicyles for the rest of the road season!

 


(Re)Focus – Part I

October 9th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Todd Anthes
(Multisport Team)

2018 was to be the year of the bike for me.  Late last year I stopped regular running for the first time in my life. It had been a couple years since I really focused on triathlon; and I was just kind of going through the motions.

I had never biked more than three of four times a week before and was enjoying more and more the time on my mountain bike. So, after a short break at the end of 2017, it was all bike.

I changed coaches, was properly fitted on my mountain bikes and started a base training program.  By the middle of February, I was having some serious sciatica pain. I figured it was just adaptation as I was biking every day.

I saw my physical therapist, massage therapist, and eventually my doctor.  The pain I was experiencing when I would get out of bed in the morning and touch the floor was extricating and getting worse day by day.

I backed off the bike for awhile, and the symptoms got worse. Back to the doctor I went.  After much persuasion, I agreed to an MRI.  I’m glad I did, it showed a L5/S1 disc herniation/bulge. I was crushed. The year of the bike might be over before it even began.

I don’t really know what will happen at this point.  A significant portion of the population has a disc protrusion, but it really isn’t an issue until it hits a nerve. And while there are a many proven non-surgical methods in which you can heal from a disc injury like mine, everybody is different.

I plan to try to rehabilitate this injury for some fall mountain bike racing, so stay tuned.


Bike Lights. Use them on every ride!

October 7th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Todd Anthes
(Athletic Mentors Multisport Team)

Bike lights have come a long way. It used to be the case that any decent unit needed a separate large battery unit. However, all but the “Seca” units discussed below have a self-contained small rechargeable energy source.

And given the rise of distracted driving, the proper light set up is no longer just something for rides in the dark.  In my opinion, lights are now a necessity on all rides.

I have three primary light set ups, as follows.  I tend to favor the Light & Motion brand, but given the output/lumens and other features, I am sure there are other acceptable options.

  1. The All the Time, Every Time, Set-Up (“ATET”).
  2. Whether it’s a bright sunny day or cloudy flat-light conditions, I run one of the Urban series lights on the front handle bar of my bike (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/urban), usually with the light under the bar, which is my personal preference. The light is set up in the “pulse” mode.  I have a number of these units, either 800 or 1000 lumens, and these are very bright blinking lights that can be seen from a great distance.
  3. On the rear I run the Vis 180 Pro (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/vis-180/vis-180-pro), strapped to my seat post. Even when I rode a tri-bike, I found a way to strap this to the aero post.  I always run it in the “pulse” mode, and you might think that 150 lumens aren’t that visible.  But try and ride behind this light in “pulse” mode in a pace line and it is blinding.  There are other settlings, but when in a pace line, I usually just turn it off. Note that some of the people I ride with regularly mount a Vis unit on their helmet.
  4. The “It Might Get Dark” Set-Up. I complement the ATET with one of two modified set-ups.
  5. If I am going out and my return might be at dusk, I put another Urban light in my jersey pocket. If it gets dark, I strap it to my handle bar on the other side of the bar from the “pulse” unit. I use the light in one of three of four intensity setting.  At the highest lumens setting, this will get me home safe if I have under an hour and a half or so left on the ride. The other settings preserve the battery life longer.
  6. If I go out and I know that it will get dark, I carry or pre-install one of the Tazi units (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/taz). I have a few iterations of this unit, but the new 2000 lumens Black Pearl unit is incredible.  It is brighter than a car headlight.  I usually strap this to my handlebar and on its highest setting, I can get an hour of really bright light. You can also mount a Tazi on your helmet but read below.
  7. The “It’s Dark” Set-Up. When I am leaving in the dark, and if the ride is going to be on a trail or involve a lot of turning, I mount a Seca unit (https://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/seca) on my helmet. It can be mounted on your bar, but this 2000 to 2500 lumens unit makes night riding like riding in the day.  The reason I mount in on my helmet is that the Urban units set on a low angle provide light 7-12 feet ahead of the front wheel, but the Seca unit helps me see around the turns. At its highest setting, which I rarely use, you can plan on an hour and a half of really really bright light. The Seca units also have a separate head band you can purchase that fits over a hat.  This a great for hiking or walking the dogs in the dark.  The Seca unit does have an external battery, but it is not that large and easily fits into my jersey pocket. I often run the cord under my coat or jersey and then into the pocket.

I ride a lot in “darkish” or dark conditions.  I am kind of a night owl, and often find myself heading out later than expected for a ride.  In the fall and winter, a proper light set up can make the difference between Zwift and riding outside.  And let’s face it, Zwift is cool, but we would all rather be outside . . . provided we can see (and are not too cold . . . but I have another blog on that).

 


Wireless Headphones Round-up

October 3rd, 2018 by Marie Dershem

I have tried at least two dozen or so of wireless Bluetooth headphones for running and biking. And before you start, this is blog is not meant to be commentary on whether this is a good idea or not.  I do it, in a safe manner, and that is the end of the issue herein.

To date, the best unit has been the Jabra Elite Sport.  It’s important to note that I am a heavy sweater and have burned through EVERY pair of Bluetooth headphones, except this Jabra product.  However, in all fairness, I did have an issue with a unit, which Jabra replaced, but they withstood a year of my extreme sweat and keep on working great.

I use Bluetooth headphones for the convenience of not having to trouble with wires.  It’s helpful whether it is a 21F degree winter day and I am wearing a hat, or if is a sweltering 87F degrees sticky workout.  Most headsets simply can’t handle the moisture, but he Jabra unit has a unique constriction that keeps the moisture out of the electronics.

A drawback of Bluetooth units is that they require a charge.  Most run for two to three hours, and the initial Jabra Elite Sport struggled to make it slightly past two hours.  As I understand matters the new units promise 4.5 hours, and two full charges with the charging case.

The Jabra Elite Sport has a charging case that stores and charges the unit.  And note that this product it two separate ear buds, not one with a connected wire around the back of your head or neck.

One other concern of the Jabra unit is that it fits entirely in your ear.  I never had a problem with hearing other noises (e.g., runner, bikers, vehicles, etc.), but if this concerns you, there are other options.

Second place goes to Plantronics Backbeat.  I have and use the original, but there is now a “Fit” version that promises 8 hours of use.  This is a one-piece unit connecting around the rear of your head.  It never really worked well with my bike helmet, and in my opinion the sound quality is poor.

The real plus (or minus depending on how you view it) to the Plantronics unit is that it is a one-size fits all unit that leaves a lot of room for ambient noise.  So, if that is a concern for you, then this might work for you.

Another unit that fills your entire ear is the Yerbuds, now owned by JBL.  I came to know this brand by a partnership with Ironman.  They offered a in the ear “enhancer” that you twisted into your ear for a tight fit.  Again, if you want ambient noise, this unit will be problematic.  And regardless of which size enhancer I used, it ultimately would slip out on long runs.  I remember twisting the unit in harder and harder each time, until ultimately, I had to see my doctor to clean out some accumulated ear wax.  Really.

The Beats by Dr. Dre were the best sounding Bluetooth unit, but they barely lasted two months of mainly gym and dreadmill usage.  It was never a product that made it out on the trail/road.

Near the back end for “sport” usage are the Apple Ear Buds.  They look kind of goofy to me, but the sound is great, and it lets in ambient sound.  And the Apple produce is excellent ear piece for a phone.

I often use the Apple buds for strength workouts in the gym where I don’t sweat as much as a long run or ride and do supplement the unit with some aftermarket rubber pieces that keep sweat and water out of the unit.

And to end with a pro tip, running with a phone is a PITA and I don’t do it.  I use a second-generation Apple Watch to link the ear buds.  When apply did away with not allowing Apple Music to sync with the Nano and Shuffle, I was really upset.  Apple effectively pushed active consumers to the Apple Watch.

If you choose to go this route, you don’t need the fancy most recent Apple Watch, it doesn’t hurt, but if you are an Apple user, especially an Apple Music user, the system works very well.


Zwift Killed the Fatbike

October 2nd, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By: Todd Anthes

I was an early adopter on the fat bake craze.  I absolutely loved the idea of something that would provide with me an incentive to continue to ride through the winter months.  Incidentally, this is the same reason is also why I started cyclocross so many years ago; to keep me riding later in the year than I otherwise would.

For the most part, the fat bike fit the bill.  I went through several fat bikes that got lighter and nimbler, almost like a 29er mountain bike.  But don’t get me wrong, it is still a royal PITA to get all the proper gear and stay warm and interested in significant long winter rides on a fat bike.  I could write an entire blog on the types of boots and gloves that I have tried for winter riding.

I also have the benefit of the Lake Michigan shoreline to spice up my fat bike rides. The shoreline in the winter is like riding on the moon, not a soul around, beautiful views, and sometimes floating rides.  But when Zwift came on the scene, my interest is suffering outside dwindled.  I know find myself routinely opting to Zwift rather than suffer in the winter conditions.

Zwift provides the benefit of quickly prepping for rides, especially if you have a dedicated trainer bike.  So, when faced with riding at night, in very cold conditions, or wet conditions, I hate to admit it, but I often pick Zwift.

Zwift is perfect for monitoring my effort, especially with a “smart” trainer, and gives me that added nudge to keep my limited attention span . . . especially when someone, or a group of riders, pass me.

Also, to support my limited attention span, on very easy trainer rides, I also often watch a movie or TV show.  Which is another draw.  And while I always look forward to riding, I got hooked on Peaky Blinders, Ray Donovan, and countless other shows and movies. I watched all four seasons of Peaky Blinders last February while on the trainer.

Like the old song goes, “Video killed the radio star . . .”, for me, and likely many others, my fat bike is getting far less use in favor of Zwift.


3 triathletes, 1 race. Read about MITI with their race reports!

October 1st, 2018 by Marie Dershem

 

By: Jeff Nordquist

Kathy Braginton, Olympic Distance, 2:40.42, 5th OA, 2nd AG
Going into Miti weekend, I was feeling fatigued and was not overly confident on what I would be able to bring for race day. A wetsuit legal race combined with cooler temps and overcast skies made for a very successful day. The swim was a fairly normal swim for me. I was able to conserve a little energy with the wetsuit and it felt so good after several non-wetsuit legal races. The first half of the bike was slower than what I had anticipated, so I was concerned I was showing some of that fatigue. I had forgotten the Olympic course was constant rolling hills. I was pleased to find the return portion of the course rolled much faster. I averaged over 3 mph faster on the return and was able to complete the bike with the overall average pace I had anticipated. It was the run portion of the race that really surprised me. I exploded out of T2 with a sudden burst of energy. I’m not sure if it was the roar of the crowd or what. I had a good first mile, but spent the next 2 trying to slow my breathing and my heartrate. After the turnaround on the run, I began cheering on other teammates and runners. This helped to push through the last few miles and I was able to post a negative split on the return route. The organizers and the volunteers do a great job with the aid stations on the run course providing hydration, nutrition, and lots of encouragement every mile. I finished 5th overall female and 1stin my Age Group. My race time and place made for a very satisfying closeout of the Triathlon season.

Chelsey Smith, Half Ironman, 5:36.37, 9th OA, 1st AG
MiTi was my first half Ironman distance event and I went into with very little expectations. Not having ever raced any endurance event longer than a marathon I really had no idea how my body would respond to the time and distance. I am happy to say I had a great race. The swim went well. I was strong and steady on the bike while enjoying hills, and the run went as expected. I ended up running down the girl that was first in my age group to finish ahead of her and take first. I followed my race plan to a tee, and ended up at 5:36 finish time, and top ten overall females. It was a great race. I enjoyed that both the bike and the swim had out and backs on the course to it was easy to see many friends that were also racing. The course was also very well supported and the volunteers were great. I am looking forward to doing this race again in the future.

Jeff Nordquist, Olympic Distance, 2:12.56, 7th OA, 2nd AG
With the cooler weather and the overcast morning, the conditions couldn’t have been better. I knew going into this race, I hadn’t spent the time training as much as I’ve had in previous years. My wife and I welcomed our first child into this world in June and as you may know the training schedule looked different in years past.
It all started in the water with wetsuit legal temps (thank goodness). After the first minute passed, found a rhythm and a set of legs to follow, allowing me to conserve energy for the remainder. Transitioned well onto the saddle in 5th place. The ride out was nearly all climbing and made sense considering the 6mph difference in the speed on the way back. But the hills were relentless and having a disc wheel may have caused more harm than good. With the run approaching, I started to transition my legs to be ready to hit the street. Jumping in to the shoes, I was in 8th place. I normally make ground on the run, but today was not that case. I couldn’t get the legs to turn and it costed me a few chances to move up as much as I’d like. I finished the across the line in 7th, and 2nd in my the AG.
I had higher hopes than my finish, but overall satisfied with the effort. I suffered, but ran the race that I had in mind. Looking forward to the rest of the season and the months to come.


Just “TRI”

September 27th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By: JoAnn Cranson

“Just Tri” has been my motto for the last year and a half.  That’s when I started to think about doing my first triathlon.

But my first hurtle was learning how to swim!  I knew how to tread water and float on my back, but I had no clue how to swim freestyle.  Sooo…. I signed up for a beginners swim class for tri-athletes with Athletic Mentors.  We all know it can be nerve-wracking to try something new or different.  Well that was me the first day of this swim practice.  I struggled to even get my swim cap on!  Walking out into the pool area with many other people was intimidating but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until I was in the pool. As we went through the first class I felt like Lucille Ball in her sitcom (some younger people may not even know who this is!)  Every activity they asked us to do I struggled.  I can laugh now but at the time, I wondered how the young girl next to me could hold her breath and just sit on the bottom of the pool while I looked like I was having a seizure just to try and stay under the water while holding my breath!

As the class progressed I pieces started to fall into place and I finally began to learn how to swim.  I joined a local Y to practice swimming. At first I had to ask to be in the lane next to the pool’s edge so I  could hold on if couldn’t make it the whole way to the other side. But, as time went on, I became comfortable to swim in any lane.  It’s was not easy (at least for me) to swim.  It took going to the pool over and over again, but I was determined.

After the swim it’s time to ride.  Since I’ve been biking many years, this was by far the easy part of this challenge for me.  You get on your bike and pedal as hard as you can for 20K (about 12.8 miles).  Ideally you need a bike that is made for pavement with tires from 23-25 cm and get in the most aero position you can to go faster.  Practice riding that distance or farther.  Join local group rides and just get out there a pedal.

Next, the run.  I hadn’t run in over 20 years and I have never run competitively.  I started out trying to run 20 minutes right away, but it was too much. I started to get shin splints and a sore knee.  I found myself questioning if I could do this… wondering if I should give up. Instead, I decided to just start slower. I ran just 10 mins.  Who doesn’t have 10 mins to do a jog slow?  That’s what I did almost every night or every other day for a week, then next week go 12 mins., then gradually built up and it was so much easier and no shin splints!

If you are considering a triathlon, here are some thoughts after I did my first one.

Don’t think that, just “tri” by:

  1. Getting off the couch.
  2. Join a Y, or a tri-club, run club.
  3. Get a friend to do the triathlon or exercise with you.
  4. Tri’s are about doing your personal best.
  5. All sizes, all ages, all abilities do Tri’s, so can YOU.
  6. Setting a goal to stay motivated over the winter to enter an event next Spring!

“Tri” something new, challenge yourself.  Preparing for a Triathlon is hard work, but the reward is so sweet.  This will motivate you for a healthier lifestyle, gain confidence and be content with who you are.

 


Stay Loose and Fast: Injury Prevention

September 15th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

When I ran Cross Country and Track in High School, I thought stretching your quads, calves, and hamstrings were all you needed to do to prevent injuries.  Now, 12 years later, I’ve learned that continued athletic performance relies on one’s commitment to keeping your body limber and prevent injury. Thankfully, there are far more techniques and tools that can be utilized than my high school self believed.

Since my youth, I have been introduced to a foam roller, massage sticks, and massage balls (aka tennis ball) and learned about key muscles in my sport such as hip flexors, glutes, abductors, and IT bands.

When I say “injury” I’m referring to little nagging injuries (such as a tight muscle) or overuse injuries (such as tendonitis).  Over my career (so far) I’ve dealt with patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, osgood slaughter, peroneal tendon pain, calf pain, hamstring pain, groin pain, achilles pain, and the list goes on. In the past when I was injured I would start stretching the muscles around the area of pain and hoped that it relieved my symptoms.  For example, if I had calf pain I would use a foam roller and stretch my calf like crazy. When my injury went away I would go back to my old habits and did not consider changing my stretching routine.

Today I have changed my habits so I’m more “proactive” instead of “reactive” when it comes to injury prevention.  There was one particular injury last year that has led to my daily stretching and recovery routines. In August, I experienced calf pain a few days before the Michigan Titanium (MiTi) race.  I was planning on doing the Half Iron distance at MiTi. I did everything I could to relieve my calf pain before the race. I foam rolled and stretched my right calf in every possible way. Unfortunately I still had calf pain leading up to the race.  The day before the race I had to drop out of the half Iron distance and instead registered for the Full Aquabike distance. The Aquabike was a swim-bike Ironman distance so I could avoid running, which aggravated my calf.

I ended up having a great race at MiTi but it still bugged me that I had a nagging injury that seemingly came out of nowhere.  In addition, I wanted to be injury free since I was racing in Kona in mid October. As luck would have it, when I was at MiTi I met a licensed massage therapist and I scheduled a massage appointment the following week.

At the massage appointment, I expected the therapist to work on my right calf for the majority of the time. Instead he worked on my entire body and only spent a few minutes on my calf.  The massage included stretching and massage of my quads, hamstring, glutes, lower back and back muscles. Later that day when I went for a run, I did not have any calf pain!

That experience helped me recognize the connections in the body’s muscular structure. My therapist and I believed that the calf pain was likely due to very tight quads/hip flexors which caused my hips to tilt forward.  When my hips tilted forward it caused my hamstring to become tight which pulled on my calf. As a result I felt pain in my calf since it was the “weaker” muscle.  The calf was the symptom but the cause was likely my quad and hip flexor.

I’ve continued to get massages on a regulator bases to prevent further injuries and also to learn more about my body.  My stretching routine has included static stretching and rolling. When I stretch I go in a order of priority as shown in the list below.

  1. Quads

  2. Hip Flexor

  3. Glutes

  4. Abductors

  5. Groin

  6. Hamstring

  7. Calf

My first priority is to stretch my quads and hip flexors unless there is a particular area that is bothering me.  My quads take the most pounding from biking and running so this gets the most attention. My hip flexors are always tight from being in a seated position at work and on the bike.

Below are a few quad stretches that I do on a regulator basis.

Quad Foam Roll – use roller to roll up and down the quad to find tight areas.  Keep roller on a tight area to help it relax. Try not to force it to make it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Med Ball Quad Stretch – rest leg on ball, push knee away from body, and raise foot up to get a further stretch.  Repeat this cycle 5 to 10 times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross-Leg Glute stretch



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