Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Off-Season

So now, because of injury, my season is very much beginning to wind down. At the moment, I am just doing various rehab exercises for my hamstring to enable it to recover, and mixing things up in the gym to keep it all interesting. I will continue to do this for about another week, and then have three weeks off.

The off season is a weird time for me. Its nice to get an opportunity to be "normal", or as normal as possible. I manage to get away on holiday with my girlfriend. This year we are going to Austria, as her family own a house out there. I usually spend one or two nights out with my friends as well, doing a bit of drinking, which again is nice as I don't drink at all during training or competition periods (i.e. October until now). But it is also important not to go too far, and this is where I struggle. As I am usually on a very particular diet most of the year, I look forwards to having my time off so I can eat more or less what I want, which usually results in me turning up to the start of winter training somewhat out of shape! This year, I am aiming to do things more in moderation, having a couple of bad meals, but also having plenty of healthy ones too. I will try and keep fairly active in my time off, going on plenty of walks in and around the mountains in Austria. Hopefully by the time I arrive back off holiday, I will be raring to go again, and can get back into my winter training with a vengeance, ready to make up for my disappointing 2010.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Injury and the Rehab process

The idea of this post is to show what happens when an athlete gets injured, and how they get back to full fitness.

There are two types of injury that an athlete can get; chronic or acute. A chronic injury is often linked with overuse, and it is where a muscle, ligament, tendon or bone has broken down over time, resulting in an injury. Examples of this type of injury include shin splints and stress fractures. Acute injuries are injuries that have no pre-existing condition or warning signs, such as a broken leg from a bad tackle in football. Within athletics, the majority of injuries are chronic. Every day I have to evaluate my body for how it feels. I usually do this as soon as I wake up and move around, making a note of where things are sore. As I warm-up for training, I then pay close attention to the sore areas, making a decision on how bad the soreness is, whether it is an injury or just DOMS, how it will affect training, whether I need to modify training, and whether I need to get physio on it.

Most of the time, the soreness is a result of overloading a certain muscle, and eventually with some short-term management, they go away, with only a small amount (if any) of training modification required. However, sometimes they don’t improve, or sometimes an acute injury (like a sudden onset hamstring tear) might occur. Currently I am suffering from a slight hamstring injury. I am lucky enough to receive lottery funding, and so I get world-class sports medicine cover. In this instance, I spoke to my physio about my injury, who evaluated various things in and around the hamstring to see what the problem was, and referred me to a specialist sports doctor, who I saw within three hours of my initial conversation with the physio. The doctor then used an ultrasound scanner to have a closer look for damage within the hamstring (for bones/more complex injuries, and MRI may be required, which takes longer). From the scan, the doctor recommended that I have some injections. The most commonly used injections are local anaesthetic to reduce pain, traumeel, a homeopathic substance which may (or may not) improve heeling within a muscle, or cortisone, which is the last resort as it requires the athlete to take longer rest. Of these, I had a local anaesthetic, which took a lot of the initial soreness away, and cortisone.

So, that managed the short-term implications of injury. The next step was to look at longer-term recovery, of which rehab plays a large part. My physio again examined various things in my body, and we found that, due to the injury, I had lost some muscle bulk around my thigh and glute areas. To rectify this, I was given some exercises to help activate the muscle, and bring some bulk back. The idea is also to progressively load the injured area so it regains pre-injury levels of strength. That is where I am at right now – I hope to get back to running in spikes within two weeks, then I can have 2-3 weeks off before starting my winter training for next year.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Story of 2010

Well, 2010 has been a very disappointing year for me, on so many levels. I started off with high hopes of making both the European Championship and Commonwealth Games teams, however, poor form limited me in only getting selected for the relay at the Europeans. Whilst out in Portugal, at the pre-games training camp, I then picked up a slight hamstring injury. Fortunately, the UKA medical staff are truly world class, and managed to get me into good enough condition to run in the relay, where I was given second leg. In the relay, things were going really well, and we were winning our heat, until the final changeover, where disaster struck, and the changeover was messed up a bit. This lead to us failing to qualify for the final, putting paid to my big hopes of getting a European Gold medal. Sitting in the stands for the final was a very hard experience for me, but one that I felt I had to go through in order to fire myself up for training.

Since returning back from the Europeans, my hamstring injury has worsened slightly, and so as a precaution I have had to withdraw from all remaining races this season. This gives a disappointing end to a very disappointing season, but I promise I will look very hard at what things need to change, and I will come back better than ever.



Hello Everyone!

My name is Craig Pickering, I am 23 years old, and I currently train at the University of Bath in Malcolm Arnold's training group. I am an international 60m/100m runner, and my greatest achievements (not to blow my own trumpet) include:

2003 - World Youth 100m Bronze Medal
2005 - European Junior 100m Gold Medal
2007 - European Indoor 60m Bronze Medal, European u23 100m Silver Medal, World Championships 4x100m Bronze Medal, World Championships 100m Semi-finalist
2008 - Olympic 100m Quarter Finalist

I have been to 3 World Championships, and one Olympic Games, and one European Championships (so far!).

I have set this blog up to keep everyone in the know of how things are going, and give you a bit of an insight into what things are like for a professional sportsperson.