The Roman Road to Sparta
This is not the article that I planned on using for this particular publish date, nor is it one that I thought I’d write. This is a by product of several different aspects of my life all conspiring together and ending up in a pretty big idea. Like many big ideas that have gone before it, there is the opportunity for adventure and the joy of personal success. There is also the chance of failure, disappointment and battered ego.
There are a number of circumstances that have lead me to need this adventure and the single most influential is the fact that I got 110% sick of the dehydrated disc problem that I’ve had for the last few years.
Whoa…before you roll your eyes and think of pressing the back button, I’m not about to start boring the bits off you with some ‘woe is me’ saga. In actual fact quite the opposite, it’s about making a crap storm into the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (or something). After all I got into mountain biking because I had a bad back. I thought that riding would hopefully strengthen the muscles that supported the injury, and I was right (my Doctor was wrong) Not only did it help my pain issues, it got me a new vice and for that matter career. So what was a potentially awful scenario has been pretty rewarding. Whilst on the subject of making the most out of a crappy scenario, I’ve met some incredible people and learned a huge amount about how to take part in healing yourself. A crucial factor in healing yourself is learning to listen to your body and filter the information that it gives you. For the last few weeks that internal information has been shouting loud and clear that it wants a challenge and doesn’t want anymore back pain.
The thing is, once you start hearing the call it manifests everywhere ! Amazing pictures of true adventure rides, rediscovering old articles on back exercises and even some astounding new information that may well be a game changer for so many. This article that was recently published will mean that 40% of the people who needed disc fusion surgery will be cured with only standard antibiotics.
I’d decided about three weeks ago to go back to basics and revisit every single trick I’d learned on the things that can assist with disc issues, I also went about gathering any new information and posted on Google+ that I was in need of any tips/thoughts people had (huge thanks to Louis George and Davor Maksimovic for their hugely beneficial help and support). The arsenal of old and new was going well and I was gaining confidence that I was going to nail it this time, that confidence was about to receive another boost. A very dear and valued friend has been studying to qualify as a weight loss coach and needed a case study at the 11th hour, after a let down. No I’m not particularly over weight (half a stone), but it was a good opportunity to help her out and as it happened proved to be great at focusing on the whole idea. Ultimately I was going to play it strict for three months, if it didn’t work I’d have the operation to fuse the discs. High stakes and a really good motivator.
|The Brecon Beacons|
Much stricter attention paid to flexibility and stretching means that I get all over body benefits and not just my bad back. Win, win.The severe amount of pain had meant very little bike time recently and the fitness had slipped to all time low. The only way I was going to start getting my fitness back was going to be a trip to the swimming pool. No joint impact, loads of core strengthening, plenty of cardiovascular and it’s a great way to work loads of the muscle groups. My first trip to the pool was a total success, the feeling of being about to get the blood flowing and the heart racing was a real boost, and those happy brain hormones that exercise gives you were pretty cool too. I was still in loads of pain, but happy and stoked that I felt that I was back in the driving seat. That feeling of taking control is essential and very important to the healing mindset.
Reward the Resolve
|Guilt free forks !|
|The Brecon Beacons|
The BIG Reward, Treat Time!
Motivation by Failure
|A moment of fun on an awful ride.|
The next day was a busy blur and by the time I got home it didn’t feel like training time, more like sofa time. I talked myself into doing half an hours flexibility. It was a tonic and sent the energy levels just high enough to make me get changed and get on the Cross bike. The evening was cool enough to make you pedal for warmth and bright enough to smile. As my legs woke up and the brain settled I pushed harder and ‘wanted’ the ride. It ceased being about pain in my back, it was now open for me to enjoy. I willed my way up the hills and got home elated. As I reached up to put the bike back onto it’s hook in the shed I realized that the familiar ‘twang’ of pain wasn’t there ! Respite was the reward ! I had about three hours of a lot less pain than normal and it was followed with a deep sleep, bliss. There may well be a long way to go yet, but what more encouragement could I ask.
I discussed my goal with Rachel, the lady that did the nutrition plan and case study with me. It was productive to make my goal ‘public’ and discuss it with someone who is honest enough to tell it like it is. She pointed out that a trip like that had a wealth of variables and there the chance of failure. She asked the direct question “how would you deal with that possibility” I’ll have to take something from it and get the hell back on the bike. Isn’t it great when people don’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.
It’s all about timing
There are a number of things that will lend themselves well to making the present time a good time for this adventure. A crucial one being that the atmosphere at home is one of vitality and health. My good lady is training for a half, followed by a full marathon. Booked and being trained for with huge dedication. The kids are all busy with lots of vibrant/healthy activities also. We also have lots going on and projects like a house extension that are making me more conscious of detail and the need for solid planning. My trip will need vast amounts of time, training and resource planning. This will be a great skill to incorporate into the life and hopefully be a welcome break from my self imposed chaos. The other skill that I’ll have to re-visit is that I’ve been at peak fitness before in my life and enjoyed it tremendously. It was a few (several) years ago though ! When I was in the Royal Navy and in my mid twenties, I trained to compete in the Field gun competition.If you are not aware of this old and brutal event, it’s an assault course that requires two teams to race with a cannon and gun carriage. Fingers are lost and injuries are frequent, it’s intensely rewarding and rich in history. It was a challenge that ended in an internal bleed and no chance of making final selection, although it was a massive disappointment at the time, it was an amazing lesson in pushing my boundaries and how to train for endurance. To this day I’ve massive respect for the guys that made the cut.
|Field Gun crew.|
Next time I write about the Sarn Helen I will be discussing the planning required. Detail on training and some of the wealth of wonderful sights that I’m hoping to experience along the way. Who’s up for a ride on the Roman Road !