Sitting in a dark room recovering from yesterday’s right eye cataract. A 20 year old engine in a 65 year old body…stuff just wears out! I wanted to provide a summary of this past years race season one year after my THR.
Background: I twist broke my leg while cross country skiing in 2011. It was during a winter training season as I was building fitness to try and qualify for the 2011 Ironman Championships in Kona. Nine years later after multiple PT sessions, doctor visits and painful runs off the bike….it was finally diagnosed that my twist break most likely resulted in a labrum tear and I now needed a THR. So in June 2020 I had a right posterior THR with a titanium post, ceramic head.
I grew up as a competitive swimmer and switched to Marathon running in my early twenties switching again to triathlon in my mid 40s. I have run over 135000 miles, biked over 100,000 and swam over 10,000.
Following the surgery my goal was to return with “no setbacks”. Consistency is the key to recovery and training over any one big day, week or month. My surgeon didn’t allow me to leave the overnight following surgery with anything but a cane. He wanted me moving and said let pain be the guide. He also said with today’s technology, larger parts and ceramic head, that I couldn’t wear it out. He said I would wear out first….sad but true! My surgeon and surgical center is home to many professional and university sports team in Minnesota.
I progressed slowly walking around the neighborhood three times per week and gradually built up to 6 to 8 mile walks over the first 6 months. I also added in indoor biking and swimming once my skin healed and bone was set (after my six week check).
At the 6 month mark, January 1st 2021 I started slowly back to running with 5 minute jogs and 1 minute walks. As I felt strong enough and didn’t have pain, I would add another 5/1 minute interval. I also started a mobility and balance routine 3 times a week to strengthen my body to adjust to the new hip and proper running form after 9 years of favoring my injured leg.
My first race back was a 5k that I walk/jogged with my wife. The race was at altitude and I hadn’t raced in two years so the goal was to just enjoy the day and run. Funny….I won my age group, the advantage of getting older….less people in your age group.
My second race was a sprint triathlon. Again the goal was to just enjoy the day. It was the first time running off the bike that I wasn’t in total pain, but my fitness was such that I walked a good portion of the 5k run. Still it was just great to be back and gave me new benchmarks on my fitness and things to build on like my run off the bike. I was 2nd in my age group so that was a nice bonus.
My third race was also a sprint triathlon and the goal was not to walk during the 5k run…..I didn’t care how fast I was.…mission accomplished placing me second again to the same guy:-)….oh by the way…he went to nationals this year and placed 11th in the age group so I was pretty satisfied with my fitness level.
The next three races were to prepare for next year when I will be traveling to try and qualify for the IM 70.3 World Championships. This meant going a little longer, traveling to a race and doing the 70.3 swim/bike pacing. I did a Olympic distance which included a 10k run placing 1st. I traveled to Atlanta to do a sprint distance, placing 2nd and the did a swim/bike aquaman race at the 70.3 distances (1.2 mile swim / 56 mile bike), placing 2nd.
Finally this past weekend I did a sprint triathlon on the same course as my first race this year to check my progress. I swam, biked and most importantly ran faster….but the same guy beat me again as I placed 2nd.
Over the winter I will be slowly building my run so that I can run 13.1 miles in 1:45 off the bike and build the bike so that I can average approximately 225 watts for 56 miles. That should give me a qualifying slot for the 2022 World Championships.
In summary I would say my success so far in the return to fitness and racing with no setbacks is building slowly and staying consistent. Now looking back since January 1st I have run 700 miles, biked 3500, and swam 70. If I was to go too far, too fast, too soon I would have had to take multiple breaks and never been able to achieve my results. Plus I now have a great base going into the off season to build upon for next year with some solid bench marks to build off of to be competitive and reach my new goals.
I hope this summary is useful to those considering or coming off a THR. I am open to any comments or questions you may have. My left eye cataract surgery is scheduled for September 28th, so I have plenty of time to answer questions before I get back on the horse.