Be Careful What You Want. You Might Get What You Deserve.
In my previous post I covered in general some of the major changes that had gone on in the last year. Today I would like to talk about some specific events and what I learned from them.
The 2016 CPU Canadian Championships were scheduled for the third week of February. The 2016 IPF World Championships were scheduled for the beginning of June. In order to guarantee selection for Team Canada you essentially have to win your weight class at Nationals. With the growth and expansion of the sport over the last few years, this is no easy task. Although I had sustained a pretty significant knee injury the previous year, I had trained around/through it and had made a good showing in December at the 2015 Commonwealth Championships, winning my weight class. Looking back I can see how all of these factor were all building together to derail any plans that I had made.
First let's talk about the knee injury. In reality the knee injury was probably a result of a hamstring injury I got while playing hockey early in 2014. This was the event that set in motion all the other events that nearly took me out of lifting for good. The hamstring injury occurred about a month before the 2014 Nationals. Without going into too much boring detail, this was the sequence of events that followed all the way up to the 2016 Nationals. Though the hamstring injury was quite bad, I still chose to go to the 2014 Nationals. Here I qualified for the World Championships 6 weeks later. To add insult to injury, compensations I made in training for my hamstring lead to a back injury 2 weeks out from the Worlds. With the hamstring still an issue and my back injured, I still competed and won my class at the IPF Classic World Championships in 2014 in South Africa. With a compromised hamstring and back injury, both on the left side, the inevitable happened in the fall of 2014. I injured my left knee.
The arrogance that comes with success has a way of coming around to bite you in the ass. I will fast forward to the Commonwealth Championships in Dec 2015. None of the injuries I had sustained had actually been dealt with in any meaningful way. The knee was the worst of it though, but I had limped (literally) through my training and honestly felt reasonable going into the Commonwealths. It was afterward when the house of cards began to collapse. Your body will not be ignored.
A knee, that I had convinced myself was mostly healed, let me know otherwise immediately following the Commonwealths. Constant pain and swelling made squatting difficult and mostly counter productive. I pushed on. I caught a stomach bug over Christmas that held on for 3 weeks. This did nothing for my training or recovery. I pushed on. When I arrived at the CPU National in February 2016 I was incapable of doing a bodyweight lunge. With the support of both legs I could squat and had convinced myself that it would be enough. I pushed on. Then my body pushed back.
In a nutshell the Nationals were a disaster. It was my lowest total in many years. I passed on my 3rd squat and 2nd deadlift and could barely walk at the end because of the knee and a re-aggravated back. All of those cheques my body had been writing for the last 2 years all got cashed that day and I was broke(n).
Maybe you don’t know you're making mistakes when you're making them. Maybe you don’t care as long as you are getting away with it. Either way, mistakes are there to teach you and the lessons might be harsh. I saw a surgeon about my knee shortly after the Nationals. He said there was nothing he could do for me and offered no real option. This was the first time the realization set in that I may not ever be able to use my knee to full capacity again. This was, needless to say, a tough pill to swallow. Luckily, I found a practitioner who was able to provide some relief through his treatments. Once that relief came and the swelling went down, the atrophy in my left leg was very obvious. I had literally been squatting on one leg for over a year. As I began to build back the strength in the leg it became obvious almost immediately that my hamstring (the hockey injury) was essentially not functioning at any level. This almost certainly had led to the back/hip injury before Worlds, which in turn lead to the knee injury a few months later.
So all of this was supposed to amount to a lesson I had learned. I hope it has. Everything you do, every decision you make, has consequences down the line. My example is physical but that is not always the case. By ignoring signs and feedback my body was giving me I nearly destroyed my health for the long term. For what? Fame? Money? No. It was a result of the arrogance of invincibility that comes with getting away with dumb decisions, temporary as it may be.
Looking back as a coach, I never would have let a client get this far with this sidetracked short-term thinking. But I allowed myself, and I learned my lesson. Thankfully I did not completely destroy myself. With a newfound patience for training and competition, I am close to 100% physically and can start a methodical journey back to whatever strength level awaits me. This time though nothing takes priority over my long-term mobility.
Have you ever heard the saying “enjoy your knees, you will miss them when they are gone” Trust me, it's true.