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A Minor Concussion

April 14, 2012

I’ve had to take most of this week off from hard training because of a minor concussion on Tuesday. I hate weeks like this. Recovery is, in some senses, the easy part. Forcing myself to take the time off to let my body recover is the hard part! I want to jump right back in and keep going. Fortunately, this happened early enough in training that the time off is not going to seriously impact my training schedule. If this was a month out from Ironman Arizona, I might push to return to training quicker. But so far out, it makes more sense to err on the side of taking longer than I need to return to workouts. Frustrating as that is. Training is never linear and setbacks are always part of what we expect. Of course, as an endurance athlete, head injuries are not my typical expected setbacks. But setbacks of some sort are par for the course.

On Tuesday this week, my training plans called for a crossfit workout. The day’s workout was 3 rounds for time: 9 toes-to-bar unbroken (5 immediate burpees if you let go of the bar), 6 front squats at 70% of 1 rep max weight, and 9 lateral hop burpees (burpee with the jump sideways over the barbell). Before I got to the gym, I was thinking “this is going to be a tough but quick workout.” And it should have been. The part I had not anticipated was that we were not doing the front squats off the rack. Doing front squats off the rack is a lot easier because the weight starts at shoulder height and you just pick it up, keep it on your shoulders, and do the squats. Instead, we were cleaning the weight off the floor to our shoulders, then doing the squats.

I loaded 155 lbs on my bar (I meant to load 145 lbs, but miscalculated what weight plates I needed at the time). I did the clean okay during our warmup. I knew it would be tough, but thought I would get through it fine. And then the workout started. I got through my toes-to-bar okay. First time I did more than 3 consecutive! Amazing what a 5 burpee penalty offers as incentive.

Then I turned to the bar, took a deep breath, cleaned it to my shoulders… lost my balance and fell backwards! Fortunately the bar did not hit my head at all, it just rolled over my head. At the time I did not think the bar hit me at all. Later that night I found a bruise on my chest in the shape of my necklace and a matching ding on my necklace. So I guess the bar did hit my chest. I landed on my shoulder and head, got surface cuts and bruises on my shoulder (barely broke the top layer of skin, but not all the way through the skin), and some tenderness on the back of my head but no bruising or swelling. Thanks to the adrenaline, when I stood right back up, I thought I was okay, just slightly shaken. It was a good thing Eric was there to come over and tell me “Jeff, sit down.” Like many athletes, my first thought was to jump back on the bar and do it right! Eric gave me some water and told me I was done for the day. He later explained that when I stood up, I was wobbling all over the place. Oh. I didn’t feel that. But I did begin to feel dizzy after sitting down.

Fortunately by the time I stood up again ten minutes later, I wasn’t dizzy anymore. Just a headache. But no vision problems, no concentration problems, and I could still talk and read fine. When I left the gym I was still thinking “maybe I can get in my endurance workout later today.” But I quickly realized that wasn’t smart. I should take at least a full day off. Wednesday morning I scheduled an urget appointment at the student health center to have a doctor check me out. I thought I was okay, but just to be sure. And she confirmed everything looked okay. She even gave me the go ahead to go to my swim class that evening (her words were she personally would not choose to swim that day, but if I really wanted to go to my class, she thought it should be fine as long as I made sure the coach knew I had a minor concussion and that I stopped if I needed to). At least swimming does not involve bouncing around or anything. The doctor did tell me no weights for at least a few more days.

I’m almost back to full health by now. I’ve had a residual headache, but it’s been less severe every day, and going away with tylenol. The doctor said don’t worry about the headache unless it becomes severe or persists more than a week or so. I’m still getting dizzy if I stand up quickly, but that too is fading. I got my swim in, but I’ve otherwise rested. If I pushed, I probably could have returned to my normal workouts by today, but I decided just to be extra careful and take an extra day away from crossfit. There’s no way to do a light or easy crossfit workout! Not like running where I can just go out easy. It’s frustrating to sit it out, but I know it’s better in the long run. And honestly, the injury to my pride is probably as bad as the physical injury. Non-crossfiters who hear this story jump to the conclusion well doesn’t that mean crossfit is dangerous? No! No it does not mean that! Injuries like this are exceedingly rare. I could have done that 100 times, and almost every time if the weight was too much and I lost my balance, I would have dropped the weight in front of me and stepped back, with no injury or anything. But injuries can happen. Like any sport, there is always some risk involved. And the good thing is there’s always a coach there to make sure we take care of ourselves. As with my case, where the coach made me sit down and stop. But all said, it will be good to be back to training — and to get back to that bar just to prove to myself that “yes, I can clean that weight the right way!” I know I can clean that 155 lbs.

218 days till Ironman Arizona.

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From → rest days, training

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