Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taking 2nd Helpings of the Good with the Bad

I’ve been here before. Comparing the good with the bad, I mean. Everything is finite, prone to change, and never guaranteed.

I got some bad news last Saturday, the morning of what was to be 6 glorious hours of events training. For several weeks now I’ve been having regular physiotherapy sessions, which typically include dry needling. My physio told me that he was 99% certain the ongoing issue I’ve had with my right shoulder is damage to the rotator cuff tendon.

It isn’t clear whether it’s just inflammation or a tear, and I won’t know till I’ve got an MRI scan performed. The best scenario is a second opinion from a sports physician ($) recommending a cortisone injection ($), which might enable me to continue on and compete at the Strongman Amateur Nationals. But it would also likely result in further damage to my shoulder, consequent surgery ($$$), and months and months of rehab.

So I’ve pulled out of the competition for this year, lost several hundred ($) in non-refundable airline tickets, and anticipate losing more in the coming weeks as the bills for consultations, referrals and treatments roll in.

But the upside… the upside of all this is pretty good. In fact there's a lot of good to look back on... it has been a long while since I used this process to assess my situation; actually taking the time to write down what’s really going on in my training, in my diet, in my overall direction and ethos. 

When the invite to nationals arrived I weighed in at 125 kilograms, and had been sitting there for a couple of weeks, from memory. My progress in most things had slowed, in some cases to a barely perceptible crawl. It was there, but you had to look for it.

The invite made me re-prioritise. I wanted strength and mass. I needed to be as big and as strong as possible. And I went about it in grand, grand style. First I doubled my daily caloric intake. My weekdays were still somewhat constrained to the two litres of milk, with roast meat and veg lunches whenever I had the time and spare cash. But in the evenings I would gorge on protein shakes, extra helpings of dinner (usually dead animal with some vegetable matter) which now often included rice, berries and cream or ice cream for dessert and even cake – through the week! I was in heaven. As of tonight I weigh 133 kgs – an increase of 8 kilograms in approximately 6 weeks! And the results show not all of it is fat.

Instant gratification aside, the more important strength gains that my 4000+ calories p/day diet provided were soon to follow. Progress on my favourite exercise – the deadlift – increased at a rate I’m still coming to terms with, and my squats have also really turned a corner! Looking back on my previous months of training logs, it’s hard not to see at least some of it as treading water. If I’d been 100% strength-focussed from the outset I’d possibly have that 300 kgs deadlift already. But there’s still time for all that.

So now where am I? Having bowed out of the Amateur Nationals for 2012 and heading into possible surgery and rehab, I cannot make the claim that I’m a nationally competitive Strongman anymore, only that I want to be one. But there are things I used to aspire to be that I now am, and things I wanted to do that I’ve now done. I’m looking better, feeling better and (when not injured), I’m stronger than just about any lifter I've met outside of the Muscle Pit. Stronger than I thought was even possible when I started brah-training all those years ago.

So yeah, 2013 will be my year. It will make 2012 look like arrested development… partly because it was. 

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