Like every Saturday morning before Team-in-Training practice, I rolled out of bed early just as the sun was coming up. But, today, I discovered I wasn’t alone. Back pain decided to attach itself to me at some point during the night, and it was a shooting one at that as I tried to climb out of bed. I didn’t have too much time to waste because cycling training was at 8. I needed to get out of the house and on the road to the meet up point that was about 45 minutes away. I was taken aback by the new back pain but I hoped it would work itself out once I got moving.
I hobbled my way downstairs to eat the breakfast I made the night before — a delicious overnight oatmeal made with Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Spread that makes getting up at this hour on a Saturday very worth it. Unlike my taste buds, my back was not enjoying this breakfast — at least, not enjoying my sitting in the chair for so long.
A few minutes later, I found myself contorting my body in unusual ways to try to put on my kit. My typical range of movement was hampered by the protest my back was making when I tried to lift my legs high enough insert into my bib shorts. Then, when I couldn’t reach my feet to put on my socks and I only finally got them on after rolling around on the floor for several minutes, I realized that this wasn’t going to be good.
Finally kitted up, I did manage to load up the car and get on the road on time. It’s not a bumpy drive but today I was feeling every undulation as a pain in my back. I passed two exits on the highway debating about whether I should continue, and on the fourth one, I turned off the highway and stopped. I texted head coach and told him I wasn’t going to make it. If just driving was this painful, riding my bike wasn’t going to be a good idea.
Later, I cancelled on friends for Sunday’s ride as well. With this back pain, it would be wiser to spend the weekend resting it instead of attempting a 62-mile ride. I was disappointed to miss all the cycling this weekend but there was no way I could ride, and I would rather be prudent about recovering properly.
Funny thing is, I don’t quite know how I hurt my back. I suspect that it was the cumulative effect of hunching, kneeling, twisting and turning on Thursday and Friday while I washed and serviced my bike. I started to feel stiffness in my back started when I was packing my cycling bag on Friday night, so I must have done something like have an aging spurt during these two days.
It’s now Monday and my back pain is less intense. I was able to get my socks on (barely) this morning and am still still sore and shooting some pain when I sit too long or I bend in certain ways. I’m a little anxious about staying off my bike to recover and how this will set back my training while the rest of the world (i.e. Strava) is out there getting better and more fit. I’m falling behind.
A little too ironic, I really do think. This year, I wanted to be in stronger shape compared to last year and was being really good about offseason bike training in my garage so I would be in strong shape when this season started. I got a smart trainer and was doing the TrainingPeaks and Zwift and bell and whistle that I could to make sure I was being effective. I was pretty diligent about it. And now, I’m incapacitated. I wonder if I should have also worked on my flexibility and strength as diligently.
I don’t have many options now other than to rest and stay off my fresh, clean and lubed bike for the next few days. I hope I’m ready to go by next weekend to resume my training, and just be ok with this process. Injuries happen. It’s barely March and there’s all spring and summer to go. I don’t need to be at my peak right now.