Bike to Allaire, Part 1: Injury

April 2, 2013 § 9 Comments

This weekend was spring! Like for real – so much so that I got a sunburn all over my face. It was awesome! I had been thinking about a weekend overnight bike trip for a few weeks and decided to take this one to bike from Somerset, New Jersey to Allaire State Park. My brain is packed full of thoughts on the experience (if one half hour run = one post, than how many posts does a 30 hour trip warrant? I guess we’ll see!)

Today’s thought: I’m getting old and my body just doesn’t do what it used to.

I know, I know, I’m just turning 26 this month – I’ve got years of living ahead of me if luck is with me, right? Probably true. But the ongoing theme of this year continues: I am not, unfortunately,  invincible.

For years, I’ve been able to go hard – like really hard – hike miles, bike for hours, drink for days, wake up the next day, rinse and repeat with feeling tired as the only ramification. I read training schedules that warned about the dangers of overexerting and “listening to your body” and wondered at what they were talking about. What’s overtrainig? Is that like, when I feel extra tired? I figured that stuff didn’t apply to me and just tried whatever seemed awesome.

Fast forward six years – same mindset, different body. Last Wednesday, I ran the farthest I’ve run in awhile (maybe ever) and ended it feeling great. A little tingle in my inner ankle, but for once my lungs didn’t feel like exploding at the end of it and I felt like I could go even further. A breakthrough! I was going into the weekend feeling strong, thinking nothing of the ankle twinge.

Friday night, I packed up my panniers and got ready for the ride. I pound out 50 miles at 9 miles an hour (7 miles on a flat on account of having already used my spare tire on the first flat I got) and get to camp feeling exhausted, but pretty good. A couple of folks came down from north Jersey/NY to join me in an afternoon hike and that’s when the trouble started…

We decided to just go do some good ol’ fashioned bushwacking and wander a bit in the woods – it was all good and fun until we couldn’t find a clear path back to the campground (thank god for Google maps on iPhones for general location identification). Four hours and probably 10 miles later, my ankle was sore at every step and bruised/tender to the touch to boot. I walked in some cold rivers and streams to cool it down and popped some Ibuprofen, but there wasn’t much else I could do – I had biked out to the woods and had to get myself back the next day.

2013-03-30 20.28.52

Saturday night Peeburr. Kickin’ and a gougin’ in the mud and the blood and the beer, as they say.

I got lost and added another 10 miles and some serious climbing to my route on the way back, and by the last ten miles I could feel my ankle somethin’ serious and my IT band was acting up too. I thought “Whats happening?? I didn’t run into anything or fall or get attacked by bears…! Why??”

I brought the problem to my almost-doctor friend, Ben, his blog here, and here’s what he said:

“What happens is that when you over-exert yourself, the muscles become exhausted and in order to move, the joint puts more and more of the impact into the ligament or tendon (which is what attaches the muscle to the bone where its anchored), but because those aren’t supposed to be weight bearing, you can develop tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon) and as you keep working on it, it builds up scar tissue which is brittle and even less elastic and forgiving than the original tendon/ligament. Really what you need is to stay off of it as much as humanly possible for at least two weeks, and then really slowly introduce dorky-looking physical therapy exercises to build up the muscle mass around it so that you don’t continue to aggravate it. There’s no ‘cure’ except for keeping muscle mass around it to protect it. A little biking is probably fine in a week, but nothing over 20 miles.”

Needless to say, it’s not much better today and my ankle is now on a strict R.I.C.E. diet. Dammit age! I lost so much stupid over the last 6 years, but I was hoping I’d keep the resiliency.

Alright, alright. I’m done complaining. Time for a beer.

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