This is not an easy blog post to write, I’ve been putting it off for a long time. Despite the pretty photos and attempting to put on a brave face, my time in Switzerland hasn’t been going according to plan. On and off last season I experienced some problems with tight calf muscles and hoped that an off season break would put a stop to things. After a month off and some physio they still weren’t perfect so I reluctantly put off starting winter training until the legs were 100%, assured that it was nothing serious and I’d be ok in a few weeks. It’s now May and I’m still not training. I don’t know what’s causing the problem, I’ve no idea what I can do to fix it and I’ve no idea how long it’s going to take. I’ve rapidly gone from loving being a world cup racer full of ambitions and dreams to being a Sunday cyclist the same as everyone else and I hate it.
I’ve seen masseurs, physios and several specialist doctors. Each person I’ve seen has initially said the problem is fairly minor, the muscles are a bit tight but in good condition, a few weeks and I’ll be fixed. They gave me possible solutions, nothing definite but something to try, and all requiring ‘just’ a few weeks to see if it was beneficial. Suddenly months have disappeared, I’ve wasted a lot of time and money and I’m no further forwards. I’ve tried complete rest, gentle exercise, lots of stretching, ice, heat, anti-inflamatories, eccentric calf strength exercises, a bike set up test, supportive insoles, magnesium supplements, vitamin D supplements, iron supplements, K-tape, killer deep tissue massages, acupuncture, dry needling, swimming, core strength work, foam rollering, an ultrasound scan, MRI scans of my back and legs… the list goes on. I can confirm that every other part of my body works perfectly but I still have no definite answer as to why my calves hurt and suddenly loose all power after a certain amount of time.
I wish I had a broken bone, at least then there is a definite time span until it’s fixed. I’m used to working towards goals, you can do anything with a target and something to aim for. As a cyclist you learn to suffer, to challenge yourself mentally. This has been far harder to deal with than any painful training or racing. On the bike suffering brings progress and improvement, I’m just going backwards with no end in sight. Riding in the Alps is all very well but I came here for racing, the world cup season is in full swing and I want to be there. I can’t help but feel by locating myself in one of the best places possible for racing I’ve put myself in the torture chamber and thrown away the key. For anyone lacking in motivation for the next hard training session I can give you a million reasons why you should appreciate being fit and able to race.
A process of elimination means I’m hopeful that I’ll have a proper diagnosis very soon, there are very few things left that it can be at this stage. Maybe then I’ll be able to do something about it.