I hurt my back a few weeks back picking up some kids socks off the floor. Actually, it reactivated an old track bike injury. For the first few days I couldn’t stand up straight or put pants or socks on.
Sadly the injury put me out for both the Onehunga Half and Waihi trail champs, both hotly contested by the MEC. The main concern, however, was getting back on the steady mileage for the +70km Isthmus run, 115km Auckland TMK Traverse, Tarawera, and Northburn.
Did the sensible thing and pushed on each day to try to restore as much normal daily motion as I could. Physio concurred with my suspicion that I need to continue core work even if cyclocross or fixies aren’t in play.
A week or so after the injury I managed to get on a bike to ride to work and felt rather more mobile afterwards (the injury itself wasn’t the issue so much as the overprotective muscular spasming). A couple of days after that I tried running, felt not so bad for short periods. Though I set myself back a little with an overenthusiastic return to the club runs.
While the back had pretty good mobility now, the legs felt like they had perpetual fatigue as result of back stabilisation, like day 3 after racing a marathon, but constant. Pushing through this was possible, but only for short periods. I needed a means of upping volume without undue stress and risk of re-aggravating anything.
The solution came to me when I was looking at the revised course of the Northburn 100 (now over 10,000m climbing with the last 60km being the most brutal) – employ a run-walk-run protocol or run with wizard sticks. As both are already potentially injurious to the ego I wasn’t going to combine the two.
Preparation was key to minimising impact so I donned a hat and sunglasses (would have also grown a beard if I was capable) to limit potential recognition. The walk-run regime was great, the rolling active recovery really helped with endurance. Though what was even more impressive was the effect of running with poles on my condition.
I can’t say for certain but it felt like the wizard sticks improved posture and reduced the load on the legs and lower back. When the legs were really heavy it almost felt like I was getting a bit of an assistive push. The assist doesn’t come for free, you are working elsewhere for sure, but it does redistribute the workload.
Aside from looking like a lost Norwegian, obviously you lose use of your hands to drink, eat, wipe bodily secretions, gesticulate, etc. But for expedition/adventure type events, where you are carrying a load, climbing big hills, and inevitably going to wreck your legs it may be well worth the cost. Will be breaking them out for the Isthmus run and Auckland Traverse to validate.