Moaning tendons

You’d think they’d be happy. “Have 2 weeks off”, I said. “No, make it 3. We’ll do nothing except for a bit of walking, and not even much of that”.

Did they thank me? Did they make the most of their time off? No.

After breaking my clavicle I didn’t run for 3 weeks. For the first 2 weeks I didn’t do much at all, and for the first week I was as immobilised as my shoulder. “You’ve got to let the bone begin to knit together”, my body told me, through the medium of PAIN.

Running isn’t much fun with a broken shoulder. You try not to tighten & bunch everything up around your neck, but you have to use the muscles to support the bone. Your arm can move forwards and backwards, but never down. Dropping your elbow sharply feels horrible. You become entirely focussed upon technique; either floating as gently as possible down the road, or single mindedly moving the arm of the broken shoulder back & forth.

I’m not doing much. I’m just jogging, shuffling, testing it out. Finding out what the pain says. I can walk if I want. I don’t need to run. I’m not training. But straight away my damned tendons (of the muscles of my calves, various big and small) are pissed off. They don’t like running any more. I’m trying to convince them, to talk them round to my point of view, with rest, and stretching, and ice. They remain unconvinced. Tough. They’ve got a lot of running to do this winter so they’d better toughen up. I’ll give them a few weeks to get the idea but after that they’ll need to get back to work full time. I daren’t let them know how much I rely on them as they’ll use that as a bargaining tool.

Maybe they’ll appreciate some muddy, soft, off road running.

Swansea Health Solutions

Swansea Health Solutions
I spend quite a bit of time in here. Gareth has been looking after me for a few years now, and with my broken collarbone I think he’s going to be seeing a lot of me over the next couple of months. The NHS nurses, health care assistants and surgeons have been great and I’ve been well looked after. The bone seems to be mending well (now 2 and a half weeks in to repair) and I’m back off to the fracture clinic this afternoon to get it checked over.
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The pain from the fracture is much less, and much less common now, and a lot of the discomfort is in the muscles of the shoulder which have been immobilised for a couple of weeks. My back is sore too, as I often drop my right side to support my elbow and take the weight off the shoulder, and I’m not using my right shoulder as I normally would. In the last couple of days I’ve been able to use my right arm again, and I’m using my right hand for typing and mousing. Leaning forward, tilting and twisting to accommodate my shoulder is making my back sore. Backs are Gareth’s bread and butter, so I’m hoping if the surgeons are happy with it that I’ll be able to get him to loosen all these muscles off a bit and advise me how to rehabilitate the shoulder.
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I’m not in any hurry to get back in the pool, but it would be nice to get back on the bike soon (my primary mode of transport) followed by a bit of jogging. The shoulder muscles are very weak right now, and movement is limited (a good thing for bone healing, but not for muscles).
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Swansea Health Solutions are sponsoring me for my 2012 triathlon related exploits, which is a big help. I wouldn’t say I’m injury prone but I haven’t completed a triathlon season yet (broken bone in my foot in 2010, achilles & flexor hallucis longus tendon tears in 2011, broken bone in my shoulder in 2012). Before that I was running a lot, so Gareth has been a big help! With the new Swansea Health Solutions practice the team has expanded and you can get directed to the person most able to help you with your pain or problem: physiotherapy, osteopathy, sports massage, soft tissue therapy, acupuncture, etc.
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You can see more on their website:

A week or so of repair

I’ve been good, keeping my broken shoulder immobilised (well, the pain helps with that) and staying wedged on the sofa in front of the Olympics on the telly. The iPad is very handy & I’ve been able to read a lot but I got sick of talking to it. Sitting at a desk & typing & mousing with my left hand sucks & gets very uncomfortable quickly because of the way my right arm hangs. Staying away from work has been a good thing but there’s no backup to what I do, so stuff still needs to be done, broken bones or not. That also sucks.

I’ve spent an enormous amount of time with my family, so I hope they haven’t watched or read Stephen King’s “Misery” and got any silly ideas.

After about a week the break & the shoulder felt a bit more secure, and I was able to cut out the painkillers. Mornings & getting out of bed are the worst; changing the orientation of the shoulder from horizontal-ish to vertical-ish. If the shoulder gets pulled or pushed slightly it immediately let’s me know. If I drop something I reflexively try to catch it. With my right arm. Stupid reflexes. I’ve learnt to stop shrugging my shoulders though.

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a week and a half. That’s wearing. I stay propped up on pillows to try to support everything but you can only stay in one position for so long. Movement or numbness hurts and wakes you up. Needless to say, I can’t sleep on my side. With rubbish sleep comes tiredness, and a sore, thick head.

My chronic training load score on Training Peaks has dropped into the 80’s, which my tendons are probably enjoying. I have been dreaming about running, and in the dreams there’s no pain & my right arm works fine. My stupid brain also tried to get my arms to do a hands in the air victory salute just as I was dropping off to sleep one evening last week. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Stupid brain! Yeah, that really hurt. Good job the arm was strapped down with a sling.

Today is 10 days post-crash & a callus is forming & the bone is healing. I feel like crap but I’m counting the days off & feeling the improvements. It’ll be a couple of months or more before it’s strong but I’m hoping I can get out of this sling & on my turbo trainer or the fixie next week. The pain will let me know what I can do I guess. I’ve got another 2 weeks of taking it easy anyway before I need to think about training in any organised manner. Some walking on the Gower might be good, if I avoid carrying a rucksack.

I’m running resit exams next week & the only shirts I can get on are loose, short-sleeved, and somewhat Hawaiian. So that should be a bit more fun than usual.

An early break

I had a little tumble on my bike on Sunday. I was doing a tempo segment followed by a nice longish aerobic portion and the 12 minute tempo reps had gone really well. Lots of power coming out of my legs and I was having a nice easy spin around Tewkesbury to warm down. It started to spit with rain so I put my arm warmers on, and pulled my gilet out of my back pocket. The sort of thing we do week in week out, which we pay attention to but don’t really think about. Riding none handed I guess I was looking at my gilet rather than the road, but I wasn’t doing anything weird or tricky, when my front wheel hit a pothole and I guess it careened left straight into the curb. I’ve never stopped so quickly or crashed so hard in my life. Bang!

I went to pick myself up off the floor and couldn’t. Ah. I recognise that symptom, I thought. I reached out to touch my right clavicle and yes, there was a bump that shouldn’t be there. The driver of the car that stopped behind me pulled over to park and helped pick me and my stuff up off the floor. Thanks, mate.

“I don’t know what happened there”, I said, “but I’ve broken my clavicle”.

“You were all over the road”, he said, just referring to the crash part, I hope. “Do you want me to give you a hand over there?”

It turned out that I’d crashed right outside Tewkesbury General Hospital. Very handy. I had a look around and worked out what had happened. A pot hole was clear marked with blue paint. I guess I was still feeling a little stunned. My front wheel and forks were bent. There wasn’t any pain after the crash, that took a little while to develop. The hospital is very small and quiet and it took a little while to find out where the minor incidents unit was. I was glad it was very close and very quiet because a nurse and a healthcare assistant took very good, very quick care of me. They checked me over, cleaned my grazes, confirmed what I thought I knew and fed me some great painkillers and a cup of sweet tea before trying to take off my jersey. Wow, that was fun.

I needed to go to a hospital in Cheltenham for x-rays, and Kim and her dad and the kids came to pick me up. Lots of pain. Don’t move, lots of pain. Cheltenham General Hospital was nice and quiet and pretty quickly the x-ray radiographs confirmed what I thought. I prescription for painkillers, and I went off to see mum and dad in a sling. Putting the sling on that last time was a whole new impressive level of ow. An appointment at Swansea Morriston fracture clinic later in the week had my shoulder reassessed and we chatted about options given my triathlon training and race season. The fracture was not displaced so it seemed most sensible to me to end my season there and take a six week break from training now and have a long winter preparing for 2013. Everything else in the shoulder seems pretty much okay. I don’t really fancy surgery on my shoulder and if I’m careful it should heal well. I had two races left this year: the club championships and a European championships qualifying race, but I have pre-qualified for the European champs next year already. I don’t fancy the idea of trying to get my arm into a wetsuit in three weeks time at the club champs but I might pop down to watch.

Everyday since the pain has been a little different and five days into repairing my shoulder feels like it’s starting to get a little more solid. It’ll be a good couple weeks before I even think about moving it though I should think. Any movement is not good right now. Really not good.

Anyhoo, so a lot of sitting around has helped me think about what I need to do for next year in terms of swimming, biking and running. And the Olympics on the telly with lots of swimming and biking, and next week running, is helping. And I’ve got to fix my training bike. It might be time for that respray. I’ve been in a fixed position on the sofa all week to keep the pain down. Even using a computer is no fun (right shoulder, right?) and this blog entry has been written (spoken) using the dictation button on my iPad 3’s keyboard. Kim is, as always, looking after me.

It’s not the end of the world; it goes with the territory really. After such a great season it’s not even that bad a time to break a bone. I need a big winter to do what I want to do next year and I was wondering how I was going to organise myself. Well, decision made for me.

Christian Malcolm – track sprinter – Mizuno Seiei

Here’s another South Wales athlete (Cardiff) who will be running in the 200m & 4x100m (fingers & toes crossed for that one) events in the Olympics. Keep an eye out.
Here’s his Power of 10 history of data for the stattos reading:
Mizuno are running an elite athlete performance centre in London while the Games are on, so if you’re knocking around you might want to pop in to see what elite athletes have to do to be at the top levels of their sports and give some of it a go yourself (it’s free):
Mizuno Performance Centre