Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Crunch: Knowing When to Get Help

I had a physical a few years ago during which the doctor said, “You have to be careful when you train.  You know, you’re not Lance Armstrong.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “but I can train as hard as he does… at my level, anyway.”
Sally liked this shot with the cables.
“Not really,” the doc said.  “He has a whole team around him.  Nutritionists, sports medicine doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists…  You’re just out there by yourself, working a regular job and exercising whenever you get the opportunity.  It’s not the same, trust me, and your spending time commuting doesn’t help.
This was not something that I wanted to hear.  So I ignored it and wound up with a case of athletic-induced pneumonia after a particularly brutal month of training that I capped with a long series of high-intensity bicycle intervals out by Stratford’s Short Beach.  When I then caught the Swine Flu later that same year, I relapsed.  I was out for nearly a month right in the middle of triathlon season and again for a just over a week after getting hit by the flu.  
Since then, I’ve implemented the three working weeks/one rest week training cycle that I currently use, managing it via a points-based system that equivalences effort across the various disciplines of triathlon.  The problem being that since triathlon trains a different discipline every day, you don’t tend to get sore or tired in the same localized ways you do when you’re just swimming or running.  Instead, your whole body breaks down systemically, so that you just sort of wake up one day, and you can’t move or breathe or even think overmuch.  If you’re not expecting it, it can hit you out of nowhere.  Managing overall effort is therefore paramount, and that’s where the points system comes in.
The points equivalence goes like this:
1 point = 100 yards swimming = 1 mile cycling = 1/4 mile running
I’ve realized over the years that I don’t get sick or hurt because I’m training too much, I get sick or hurt because I’m training too much without having built a proper base first.  Which is to say that I can put in 150 or 200 points in a week if I’ve built up to it, but if I go from nothing straight to 200, I can expect to hurt something.  That does more harm than good.  Add in weight-lifting, as I have this particular season, along with occasional sleep problems, and joint stress especially becomes an acute problem.
My last month-plus.  There are lots of fitness tracking apps, but I just use Google Drive & the points system.
I’ve been hurting lately not so much because I’ve been over-training or training too quickly as because it’s been a bigger load on my elbows and shoulders than I’m used to, and it’s left me with tightness all through my upper back and neck.  Honestly, I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until I finally went to the chiropractor and let him treat me, but man, do I ever feel better now.  He’s been treating me with a combination of electro-stim therapy, heat, and adjustment, and it has made a huge difference.  
I haven’t quite had a breakthrough in the pool just yet, but I felt much better in the gym last week, and I’m moving better both in the water and when I run.  That helps.  The fact that this has been a scheduled rest week helps as well, though I’ve got to get back and get after it later in the week.
But as the doctor said, it really does help to have the right people around you.  
This, then, is my plug for the classes and/or personal trainers at Crunch.  If you don’t know quite how to approach your fitness goals or what exactly you need to do to get where you want to go, my advice--learned through hard experience--is to get help.  Crunch has folks who can get your started and keep you on the path to success, and it’s not a sign of weakness to allow those folks to do their jobs.
As they say, train hard, get plenty of sleep, and go like Hell.  But do it correctly and with the help of experts when you need them.


  1. This is excellent advice, especially at the end.

    I think some people don't have the scratch for a full-time personal trainer, but its been my experience that you can get a 5 pack, so to speak, or a 3 pack, and then use those sessions for starting a new routine, or learning new techniques.

    1. Thanks Alan.

      I definitely agree that most folks are not out there hiring their own trainers and/or nutritionists. But I think most gyms offer classes, and if you're just starting out, that's a good way to get into it.