At the eleventh hour, I signed up for the 10 km classic race at the North Creek Nordic Fest last Saturday.
In October, I’d torn a hamstring during a hard interval workout and limped back to my car. It’s been a long road with careful, and dare I say, banal rehab. In the last couple of weeks, I tentatively resumed running. I.e. run for a minute, walk for a minute; repeat. I did that three or four times with no ill effects. Over Thanksgiving, I skated Mount van Hoevenberg’s gerbil loop. I felt good enough that I figured I’d survive a 10 k, especially as organizers HURT Nordic specified that the race would omit Gore’s fearsome A-climb.
With cold, clear skies and fresh powder covering machine made snow, the kick waxing would be straightforward. I corked five light coats of Guru Hallgeir, a wide-temperature wax for aggressive snow, onto my Fischers. It worked well on my warmup, which was good as I got there a bit late.
Video filmed during the high school race later in the day:
The race was actually six laps of a 1.11 km loop, for 6.66 km total. With an interval start format, two skiers went out every 30 seconds. I was paired with local Douglas Diehl, who dropped me within 30 meters of the start. No worries, he’s a great athlete, and this was only my fourth day on snow. I focused on skiing smoothly at an even pace. The one significant climb had me herringboning the last few meters over the top. The ensuing downhill was so fast that you didn’t really get a chance to recover.
Mark Chmielewicz and I stormed across the finish line together. As he’d started 30 seconds ahead of me, he beat me by the same interval. No worries: after seven weeks with barely any hard training, I was satisfied with my effort. For the first really hard effort in seven or eight weeks, it was a good result.
Racing After Rehabbing an Injury
To prepare for this race, I used a lot of patience. I hate losing training time, but had I tried to train through my injury, I’d probably still be sidelined. Conservative approach wins the day in this case. I went to my fantastic physical therapists: Carroll Physical Therapy, for those of you local to Morris County NJ. I did the homework they prescribed: you have to be proactive to recover.
Only three weeks ago, I resumed training leg strength in the gym, with much lighter weights than I’d lifted pre-injury. A prudent and conservative approach works best. I regressed from a rear foot elevated split squat to a regular split squat, and lightened up my dead lifts. I added body weight walking lunges, one of the things my therapist prescribed. Insofar as aerobic prep, I didn’t do any hard efforts until two weeks before the race, on skate roller skis.
Hopefully you’ll avoid injuries in your athletic adventures. Should you sustain an injury, have faith in the training you’ve done, and don’t try to come back too quickly. Your body will thank you for it.