Kristiansand. Arendal. They sound exotic, southern and tropical. Only two of those were true on a November morning in Norway.
We had made the drive down in torrential rain and darkness so it was a beautiful surprise to wake up to a stunning sunrise and gorgeous azure blue skies.
The course in Arendal was heavy. A night of rainfall meant the ground was sodden and heavy to ride through. Luckily it was mostly well draining and didn’t get too muddy, aside from a few sections.
I had had some leg problems during the week, unusual sensations when standing after sitting. It always passed quickly and I was still able to ride my bike, but during the long drive down to Arendal, the pain emerged directly in my glute muscle.
Our accommodation was just 100m from the start line! We woke early for a pre-ride but I was having some trouble with the course and found it a bit slippery in the early morning. I was allowed to buy some mud tyres to complete my Nakamura. Grippy. What a difference they made, both in physical handling and mentally.
I had a pretty solid race. Nothing outstanding, but I rode well, and crossed the line in 5th. There’s still a lot more work to do mind, technically, physically and running wise.
Unfortunately that afternoon, despite having no problem, pain or discomfort (other than race induced), I was suffering from really painful lower back pain. I couldn’t sit down without needing to move every few minutes, standing up was little better. It got so bad I took an after dinner walk in the torrential rain for 30 mins.
The next morning is was no better, and the limited movement I had didn’t match the position needed to ride my bike. I looked at it logically.
1) the 70 mins drive to Kristiansand would probably aggravate my back a little.
2) Yes, I could start the race, but would I finish? Would my effort even be classed as ‘racing’? I couldn’t easily do any mounts or dismounts at a crawling speed on an asphalt road, let alone on grass at high intensity. Sudden jarring movements were not good.
3) If I raced and made it to the finish, was there a fair chance of even greater discomfort on the way home.
All accounted for, I concluded it just wasn’t worth the potential extra damage, discomfort and pain.
It’s one of the harder things about being an athlete, whether pro, semi-pro, amateur or beginner. Deciding how bad an injury is. When to call a training session a day. When to rest. When to train lightly. When to see a physio or doctor. And worst of all – when not to race. There’s no easy guide either. Only YOU know how your body feels on any given day.
I often seem to get low level injuries, the odd niggle here and there that passes in a day or two and has no impact on training. This is the first one for sometime that has actually forced me into rest days.
The task ahead is substantial – make it to the start line of the Norwegian Champs next weekend in one piece, pain free and with good legs.