This week saw the coming and going of my 4th ‘Alive Day’ – the anniversary of my injury. It’s always a confusing time of year for me. I spend a lot of time thinking about the time leading up to my injury and I often experience regret – not about my injuries but the loss of my hard earned career. The enjoyment of the Army comes from the people you are with, those people you experience every kind of up and every kind of down with. The ones that you get out of bed for in the morning and the ones that will sometimes put you in it in the evening. The ones you risk life and limb to protect. I miss those people every day.
Inevitably, at this time of year, I always have those few seconds going through my head. Focussing on what happened and why. What I could have done differently. I’m the type of person that normally applies the ‘que sera, sera’ approach but it’s a little more difficult around the anniversary. Thinking along these lines always ends up with me thinking back to the people – the ones that believed me worth saving, the ones that invested in keeping me alive. Then I think about the morphine-fogged faces that performed my surgeries and kept me going the first week back, and the ones that got me swimming, walking and running. Then I think about the ones that weren’t as lucky as I was. It’s always Dave, Charlie and Rich – I count myself lucky and I push on.
Training this week has been a little up and down. In my first race last season one of the brackets that holds my carbon fibre blades in place shattered and I hit the ground hard – palm down, arm outstretched. It resulted in hyperflexion of the arm and rotator cuff tear and it is still giving me problems now. I started a second course of physiotherapy this week and the soft tissue manipulation left me feeling abused, in a good way. As a result, I was forced to take training a little easier on my Thursday and Friday sessions to allow for early healing, and have modified the programme with my strength coach in order to try and maximise the recovery, concentrating on stabilising and posture based resistance training rather than big weight. Easing off the training intensity did not mean cutting training time, and I took the opportunity to try translate the posture exercises in the gym into better posture on the track. The running style I developed when learning to run with prosthetics was very inefficient – curving my lumbar spine and rotating my pelvis backwards gave me my stability as a result of weak glutes and as a result I ran using the hip extensors almost exclusively with very little propulsion generated by the glutes. Spending more time recently with Roger, Tom and the coaches at the Academy is really starting to pay off and I can really feel the benefits coming through on the track. The muscle memory is not yet there so it still feels like quite an unnatural way to run, having spent so much time training with bad form, but it’s coming. The two screenshots taken from the Ubersense coaching app show the posture differences from last summer (left) to last weekend (right).
I also had to undertake some prosthetics maintenance this week and got the tools out. I’ve had a couple of new sockets made to cater for the muscle growth and expansion that takes place during a training session. Inevitably there are variations with socket length depending on exactly how much laminate is applied at the base of the socket. A few mm can make all the difference. Using my road legs as test platforms, I’ve got my new right leg adjusted to height ready and raring to go for a test run – coach Roger doesn’t let me do much long distance these days, have to wait until recovery week to see if we have a winner!
Finally, I’m also pleased to announce this week that I’ve been invited to take part in the Front Line to Start Line Transition Programme, a programme designed to better prepare military athletes for elite level competition. Onwards and upwards!