• Nikki Bartlett

Life since the Ironman


So where do I begin? It’s been over 2 months now since the ironman. Through reading my previous blog you may just about get the gist that I am now suffering from an injury. I booked up a private MRI scan due to the helpful NHS taking around 4 months to process one. The results were ‘summarised’ as paratendinitis of the tibialis posterior tendon, tenosynovitis of the peroneous longus tendon & localised degenerative change with fluid at the talonavicular recess. So another words I had no idea what this meant, luckily I have one of the best physios around and put my full faith in that he will get me back training as soon as possible.

So, after the Ironman I had my 3 week break from training scheduled in here, not like I could train if I wanted to. Injury is a tough time for an athlete such as the ‘unknown’ of how long you will be out for, complete disruption from normal life routine, unable to compete and simply not being ‘you’. With having an ankle injury it is hard to ‘rest’ it due to using it in every day movement. So onto crutches I went for two weeks. I had a fantastic time at home in Cheltenham. It’s rare through the year that I spend more than 24-48 hours in Chelt at one time, so it was brill to spend some overdue quality time with friends and family. This went far too quickly and break time was over.

Reality really hit when I discovered my restrictions due to this injury; driving, not being able to get around on my bike & walking to name a few. Therefore I had to do what I’m not good at; lots of sitting down. Now that I was back in Reading I started my physio treatment and set up the start of my recovery programme...arms only swimming, core & upper body weights. Boring ey, bye bye freedom. This was the first 4 weeks of my recovery plan. So since June I have been restricted to predominantly swimming arms only and this was hitting home hard. People only see the good results around competing and don’t realise what goes on around competition, and illness and injury play a strong part in the ‘process’.

Negative thoughts do become dominant in your thinking process and it’s hard to see the end of the ‘road’. However, if you’re an athlete you have to deal and channel these negative thoughts. Injuries suck yes, but they allow you to create ‘opportunities’. In my case, to develop my upper body strength which is a huge weakness of mine. I am definitely a legs dominant athlete but now I feel a lot stronger in my upper body and starting (key word here) to create a balance. I am starting to appreciate what I was able to do when fully fit and that motivates me through this ‘recovery’ stage.

So where am I now? I’m now able to go on the static bike which is truly exciting (you know its tough times when you are genuinely excited about getting onto a static bike). This week i have started the slow process of working up time on the cross trainer. Things are sloooowly moving in the right direction, but I’m not getting carried away and still expect Christmas to be a realistic time frame for complete recovery if all goes according to plan.

I have been reading a lot recently and two key books which stand out are; Gold rush and Slaying the Dragon both by Michael Johnson. I recommend these books to all. I have taken on board much advice from these books, my favs include; ‘In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity’-Albert Einstein. As a result, both my physio and I are working on what will be the edge in competitions through developing this in training. We started this today, it doesn’t involve my foot so its accessible and has already made a huge impact. As Michael Johnson said; ‘we may like to imagine life as an obstacle course where we can run around all of the losses, failures, defeats and disappointments, I began to realise then that losing is an integral part of the stuff that propels us, that makes the chase worthwhile’. This is definitely true for me. Hawaii World Championships which I qualified for is tomorrow, and Las Vegas Long distance championships is in 4 weeks. I should be there, but instead I’m under limitations which my foot dictates on a day to day basis. But from this I will become a better athlete. One of my strengths is my strong psychological attitude to training and competing. I have been plagued with injuries in rowing and this injury has come from steering a boat. But, who’s to say that if I didn’t steer the boat on that windy day, that I wouldn’t have got a similar injury the following day, maybe my body was on that fine line and that tipped it off? My body has defiantly had some well deserved rest, and as a result of the injury I have worked on both my strengths; psychology and my weaknesses; upper body strength. Together with physio ‘work’ I am looking forward to the end of the road, whenever that will be, to ‘crack on’. This is definitely at the forefront of my motivation.

I will be back, and i am excited for this day. For now im taking advantage of having time for a social life. Its soooo nice to spend quality time with friends and family, to actually go to birthday celebrations even if it means dancing whilst sitting on a stall. See you soon!


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