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Return from Injury - IronMan feasible?

Hi to all.

I have been out of tri for about 7 years - 2 x ruptured patella tendons, chunk out of shin bone, both shoulders dislocated etc. However, I have just completed (very slowly) the Rough Track Tri and discovered to my delight that my knees were stiff but ok. I have always aimed to do an Iron Man and want to give a Half IronMan a go in 08.

What I am trying to find out from anyone who has similar injuries is if this is a realistic goal? Any thoughts appreciated.

Age 45

Swimming is fine with the shoulders - up to 10 km per week.

Cycling - due to my job much of my work is on the turbo - spinnervals etc.

Running - slowly at present 2 x per week 4 - 6 miles (x-country). Use patella braces or bio skin supports when it is painful.


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    perosnally. i dont think you would be able to one. but you could go ahead and prove me rong. i suggest you should just stick to half as they are still a chellenge to coplete and you wont hurt as much compared with and ironman. if you were to do an ironman. pick a rather falt course and hills will hurt your legs
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    rpopper65rpopper65 Posts: 171
    I would urge you to seek medical advice and support from a physiotherapist with specific experience of working with triathletes (or at least with runners and cyclists, as those seem to be your most challenging areas). I would also strongly recommend that you build up the distances gradually. If the Rough Track Tri was your first race in a long while, then you might want to repeat that performance again before moving on to a longer distance. Sometimes the first time doing something is not an accurate benchmark by which to measure future activities, but if you repeat that first activity and achieve similar or better results, then you can start to move it up a notch.

    By my nature, I am a more conservative coach who would encourage you to do a couple of sprints and an Oly or two next year, while working in some longer distance endurance training in your base and build periods. That way, you'll come out of the 08 race season with some good racing experiences, a very good level of fitness, and an excellent base on which to build for the 09 season. If you had a good, injury-free 08 season, then I would look at some Oly and half-irons in 09. It may take longer and require a lot more patience, but I am sure that you could make it to a full IM some day, in a few years. But the question is: what kind of shape do you want to be in when the event is over? Do you want to be one of those people who has a once-in-a-lifetime experience of completing an ironman or a marathon and then never does it again? Or, do you want to be one of those people who incorporates the training, racing and learning experiences into your day-to-day life and keeps it going for the next 20+ years?

    I mean, it sounds like you have the determination to do just about anything you set your mind to, having overcome what sounds like a long list of significant problems. It sounds like you could even progress faster than I am estimating here. But, I don't think that would be the best for you in the long run.

    I say this as a 42 year old man who blew out both knees (a long-standing weakness of mine since a skiing accident when I was 18) over-training for the London Marathon 5 years ago and thought he would never do any long distance running ever again. My physio recommended I try triathlon, since it would be so much less taxing on those knees. Now, I've had 4 seasons of racing sprint and Olympic traithlons and I might just go for a half-iron next year. So, that's where I am coming from.
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    Thanks for the response, I was dispairing of getting any replies.

    I think that I agree that this will be a slow, progressive build up for an IM and my target for 08 will be the London tri and some x-country events. Physio is a bit of a bone of contention as in my job it is very much - get on with it. I have also encountered the problem of lack of knowledge about the injury - patella tendon rupture. My latest surgeon says tri is feasible, but I cannot find any detailled medical research on the matter - loads of stuff about ACL.

    In the long term, I hope that tri will continue as part of my firtness startegy and this winter will see a lot of turbo training at high cadence. Of note to anyone else out their with knee injuries I have found that clip in shoes lead to more stiffness and pain than considerably less trendy cages.

    On the subject of recovery from the injury (leg in cast for 6 months), I can thoroughly recommend haNd ergonometers - I used one of these for 6 months and found it an excellent way to do cardio and endurance work. Before finding the hand bike, I sat behind an exercise bike and pedalled with my hands - strange looks in the gym, but it worked.

    afetr the first rupture, I was able to the complete the Pembrokshire tri after 2 years and so hopefully a fuul return to longer events is possible.
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    rpopper65rpopper65 Posts: 171
    Well, good going, Hawkwind! You are doing about 10 times more than the typical triathlete has to do in order to train and compete in any race, especially an Ironman, so you keep at it. Drawing strange looks from people at the gym should be a badge of honour and get you farther, just on sheer determination and grit.
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    pigletpiglet Posts: 86
    Hi Hawkwind- your injuries sound dire. I had double patella tendon debridement and repair in Jan 2006 and the left knee redone in Oct 2006. Mine hadn't ruptured like yours but after the second op on the left knee I was left with only a small amunt of tendon stapled to the bone and then left to re-grow. In my case the patella tendons were damged by years of running/skiing (bad injuries at 16yr), hiking and long distance cycle touring. My rehab has taken an entire year- have just started to run again (on a treadmill only) and can do 45 mins now. I have also gone back to hiking. I have had extensive physio to retrain weak muscles plus treatment to align a crooked pelvis (which made me run funny and hence strain both knees). Like you, I have used the turbo at high cadence/ low resistence and concentrated on swimming too. You have the additioal challenge of shoulder injury to tacle too!

    I would agree with rpopper- take it easy for 2008 season. I also have long term gain of ironman, but think it sensible to do shorter distances to start. The challenge is to get your tendons used to consistent training. I think it would be easy to damage them by getting too ambitious to start with. I would say better 1-2 years of smaller distace and progressive build up, than completing an ironman through sheer grit and determination but then ending up back on the surgeons table and maybe 2 years recovery. Don't kow about you but I couldn't stand to go back to the beginning again[:@]

    If you could get to physio it would be a help- or even a good sports trainer to give you exercises to get your supporting muscles around the tendons strong.

    My programme included strength exercises for vastus medialis, gluts, hamstrings,thighs and calves. Core stability work also very important. I personally found yoga helpful too.

    I was told by physio not to use patellar bands as though they relieve pain they can put too much pressure on the tendon and restrict proper movement. He thought braces in general not useful once you have progressed beyond the initial rehab stage (ie still on crutches) except light wraps are good for keping the joint warm. I have found a simple elastic tube bandage (the white ones- you would have had some in hospital- like stockings without feet), the best for ease of use, comfort and keeping the knee warm.

    Anyway, hope this helps- I can let you know some exercises that I was given if that helps.

    Good luck[:D]

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    Thanks for the response. I have learned to live with the shoulders, I was due reconstruction (rugby and motor bikes), but can't face more time under the knife. I have found that swimming and hand ergo work keeps the surrounding muscles strong and I only get problems if I stop training.

    I do know what it feels like for it to happen again, after the 1st one (left leg) I swore never to play rugby again. Then the doc said you are probably ok - give it a go; wife said don't you dare; I ignored her advice and then had to phone her from the pitch - much humble pie has been eaten. 5 mins into the game the right tendon snapped - probably genetic and early years running in boots. Strangely enough the second time is easier as you know what is coming and that you will recover. However still had to get 1st full rotation by placing the leg on a gym bike and kicking the other pedal and I never want to do that again.

    Useful advice about the knee supports I will give it a go. I also think that I will have to aim low in 08 with at least one completed rather than competed oly. I have also found that 3 runs a week is painful at the moment and I think that ski machines may be a less painful alertnative at least once a week.

    On the issue of turbo training, I find that clip in shoes seem to have a detremental impact on my knees and I am going back to cages - how are you progressing with this?


    Sorry about the Hawkwind - aged hippy.
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