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Monday, April 24, 2017

Triathlon Training with a Bum Shoulder

This weekend I took the first step toward triathlon training and participated in a 3-hour swimming workshop focusing on technique and drills that should be the cornerstone of how I am to prepare for a half-mile swim. To sum it up: I'm a decent freestyle swimmer, but my breaststroke is so bad that I look like I need a lifeguard to blow a whistle and tell me I'm cut off. Until I took this workshop, I thought I was proficient enough in all four strokes. Nope. Not even close.

Actual photo of me trying not to drown after three hours of
I have a shoulder injury that has been bugging me for nine years and counting, and I was relieved that the swimming neither bothered it nor did I feel any increased shoulder pain when I woke up this morning. My physical therapist friend took a look at it recently and confirmed it's in pretty bad shape, but unfortunately, there's not much I can do other than maintain flexibility and mobility until I'm ready to make peace with the idea of a surgeon cutting into one of the most important joints in my body. Surgery poses its own risks, though, so that is absolutely a last resort for me. For now, on the bad days I just live with chronic pain and take Ibuprofen when it flares up to the point where I can't sleep. On the good days, I barely notice it.

Extended Forearm Stand
Mother of Pearl Cami and Rockstar Shorts by INKnBURN
I'm sure it doesn't help that I spend a disproportionate amount of time practicing circus tricks like the pose above, but the yoga really helps keep my shoulder strong and flexible with careful, controlled movement. As long as my arm moves up toward my ear, I don't feel pain. I have to be careful with certain movements when opening my arm out wide and rotating it around from the joint. This might be part of the reason I find breaststroke particularly miserable. 

Two swimming sessions per week for the next few months was my coach's recommendation to be ready for my targeted triathlon. It's going to take some schedule-wrestling for me to work this into my weekly workout plan. Don't even get me started on the fact that I still have to 1) get a bike; and 2) actually ride it. 

The last time I rode a bike I was in Germany for the summer sometime in college. I may or may not have fallen off the bike in front of a ton of people while trying to navigate my way off a ferry, and there may have been more than one person laughing at me. This was before smart phones, thank goodness; otherwise, I'm fairly certain I would have ended up an internet meme sensation. 


  1. You can do it! Looking forward to cheering you on in your first triathlon.

  2. Excited for you!!!! You got this!!