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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cross-training and letting time heal

It has been a minute since the last post about pain and suffering and, most devastatingly, my inability to train Kettlebell Sport. Really I have nothing to say about the sport at this time. What I have to say is that cross-training can be every bit as challenging as KBSport training and time truly does heal. 

This is the second cross-training cycle since beginning my GS addiction. Last time I hired a non-GS coach to program a 6-week strength cycle. This time I asked my amazing Coach Sensei Sergey Rudnev to program for an undetermined amount of time. The only negative to this plan is that Coach still costs the same for off-season programming. Meaning I don't stand to gain credit from competition achievements to off-set his price, as in previous GS training cycles. Everything else about working with Rudnev Sensei is great, especially since I cannot live too many days in a row without a good crushing in the gym.

Rudnev Sensei has a unique perspective on auxiliary training. The objective is still strength/endurance, but not using typical "Stage 2" exercises (Deadlift, Squats, Jump Squats, Box Jumps, Bench Press, Military Press, Dips and running). You don't have to look far to see that Coach Rudnev is not just a great Kettlebell Sport teacher, he is an athlete on another level. He is creative with basic equipment and loves to use gymnastics-style exercises to keep up that enviable strength-to-weight ratio. Lucky for me, the rings and horizontal bars have become standard gear in most gyms. 

His three-part exercise complexes include nary a straight bar nor dumb bell. I'm lifting my bodyweight and kettlebells of 16kg or less. Use of the rings allows more versatile access to torso musculature than using a stationary bar for pull ups, push ups and hanging exercises. Rings also add the additional complexity of stabilizing against the swing. A few choice "Rudnev Specials" include moving weights through a plank position. Some of these exercises are featured in this short YouTube:
Not shown are the various abdominal exercises (Russian Twist is a new frenemy). Coach has a talent for highlighting one abdominal skill just long enough to make me hate it, then switching to a different one until I hate that one, etc. with about 4 different exercises. After 8 weeks I'm learning muscle up static holds which I will not be showing. My best attempts to date look like a cat that got stuck trying to use a telephone wire as a ladder. Very awkward. 

Because rowing has been my sole cardio for most of a year, I've started adding kettlebell juggling to get outside and mix things up. Overall my shoulders feel much more stable than before, I'm pushing my dip numbers higher, and am getting thicker around my mid-back and waistline (this is apparently a hazard of the mesomorph-dominant physique). Thanks to rope climb and bar exercises my callouses and grip training have continued to develop. A few weeks ago, while doing my third of three Russian Twist x 30 each side sets I realized the mental training is still in the programming, too.

Time heals and helps develop understanding. I can say there are at least three parts to this process. This is not new to the human awareness, and there probably are actual names for the phases of healing, but I'm going to refer to them as parts one, two and three.

Part one is the active management of pain. Managing pain is exhausting. All connection with myself as an athlete faded into a distant memory, therefore it was also active management of depression. Everything took longer to do because pain happened in all angles of movement. The fragile nature of comfort etched itself in the fibers of my consciousness. I made modifications to simple actions such as walking down stairs. It was less painful to do this backward. A natural pain relief  formula (Curica) became a daily supplement. I performed an initial scourge of all sources of inflammation from my diet. In terms of understandings gained in part one: health is valuable, irreplaceable, and if I have a tiny grain of common sense I will put my every resource into preserving health for the rest of my life. 

Part two is the stage that slowly dawns after a seeming endless time of treating the injury, be it pharmaceutical or through supplementation/diet. This is heralded by the glimmer of hope that there may be a day (in the distant future) when this injury is no longer the focal point of life. I put quite a bit of consciousness into part two because I wanted to remind myself of the improvement from "part one days."
Out of impatience I chose to push the edge a few times during this part (tried to run for cardio) and made the injury recur to lesser degrees, which struck the fear of God into me. The most recent time I did this it became clear that I needed to stay the healing course. I have been on the natural medicine route, rather than pharmacy/surgery, which may have prolonged the pain I experienced in part two, but served to re-build a solid foundation in my joint structure. It is a concept in Chinese Medicine that we reap benefits or punishments for the previous four months' habits, therefore I knew to get positive results I needed to buckle in for at least four months. This inspired the choice to detox from refined sugar and start intestinal cleansing. In this stage my understanding was: awareness of all the tiny mis-steps I made prior to the injury, specifically the many slips from my best diet choices; and the compromises of my inner need to balance intensity with recovery.

I'm fairly confident that part three is where I am now, which is distinctly different from part two. Almost all normal ranges of motion have returned and almost all signs of injury are gone. "Almost" is my nickname for part three. I found professional help in the form of an advocate for my body who has nothing to do with my sport.
I had to wait three weeks to see Physical Therapist Bob Cranny. He has a reputation for success here in Boulder, CO, home of hundreds of amateur and professional triathletes and himself an ultimate runner. At the intake appointment he was pleased with how far I had come on my own. He commended my focus on dietary support, specifically quitting sugar, saying it's a treatment strategy many people overlook. The homework he gave was foam rolling tensor fascia latae and iliotibial band for 3 minutes twice per day. This just straight sucked for 3 weeks, but I did and still do it religiously. Because I had done the intestinal cleansing for several weeks I undertook a liver flush with great results. (Here is an article describing the general cleanse protocol I used.) After five visits Bob has noted accelerated progress but has been unwilling to make an estimate on how long before I can run again. Bob is my part three guide, reminding me that "almost" isn't "all the way" healthy. My understanding at this point is: everything that I've integrated and added as self-care is here to stay, and wait longer than I want to start GS training again. 

I know there's little about the sport itself in this post. Three different posts developed since beginning to write this one, all with nothing to say about the sport.
Best wishes to everyone for safe and effective training,

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