Planning for the next progression starts with reflection of the previous progression.
While my European campaign started well, it didn’t end on the same note and priorities changed as the complications accumulated. I was struggling to maintain good shape throughout the trip, most disappointingly at WOC, but my shape during my last week at Fin5 was especially bad. I’ve had a blood test and none of the results are indicative of anything sinister, although I’m still struggling with poor sleep quality and general fatigue. Regardless of feeling flat, I was not able to race Fin5 with full aggression as the ongoing problem in my left ankle has still not been fixed through mobilisation exercises. I had an x-ray, which didn’t yield anything useful, but the subsequent MRI scan showed an accumulation of scar tissue impinging the motion of the tibia over the talus. This means that when my foot reaches full dorsiflexion under load I feel a lot of pain as the scar tissue is jammed hard between the two bones. This increases swelling and sensitivity, compounding the problem. This is of no consequence when cycling, road running, or trail running for the most part, but such limitations on ankle motion are simply not compatible with orienteering on uneven ground. I have to concede that my future orienteering looks bleak unless we can fix this problem which reached its most severe at Oceania this year after orienteering on a weekly basis for many months. Since then I have done most of my training on the road where it would not be irritated, but orienteering every second day in Europe soon brought back the sensitivity.
This talus impingement problem was especially incompatible with the Finish forest and I chose to run very cautiously during the 4 forest races, especially in the more stony areas. In doing so I changed my gait to reduce pressure through my left ankle, which was essential to get me through the week, but these changes are taking some time to reverse and it would be unwise to do more than a little running until good movement is restored. So I’ll be focusing on unwinding the past 2 months by working closely with Sports Lab and maintaining conditioning through short road runs, drills, and strength training. It’s very important for me to keep moving as a large number of my past problems are related to sudden changes in routine, even inactivity. All this comes at a rather convenient time as I have no races looming, making this more of an off season than any other period in the year.
Once I have ironed out my gait and have a treatment plan for my talus I will be starting a progression towards the Kepler Challenge in December. This 60km trail run near Te Anau will be my longest race so far and I’m looking forward to chasing the competition in trail running over summer once again. I have also entered the 62km event at Tarawera Ultra and hope to take my experience at Kepler forward to a good result in this international race.
I’ve also made a good effort to get all my maps from this year on my DOMA and would encourage New Zealanders to take a look at my races from Europe and foreigners to take a look at the cool terrain we have here in New Zealand.