Richard in the MRI machine

When Things Don’t Go To Plan – Injury, Race Cancellations and Lockdowns

It took weeks of deliberation. Going back and forth with my coach countless times, but we finally reached the solution.  We came up with the perfect race schedule in the lead-up to next year’s Kanguru Sub 20 Challenge – the right mix of endurance and speed as well as varying levels of competition – from being race favourite for some and being completely out of my depth for others.

I shared my thoughts on the thoughts behind the schedule in a recent video.

About 2 weeks after that video, and my race schedule being announced, things weren’t going to plan.

Firstly, Ultra 355 Australia was unfortunately canceled.  Certainly, a disappointment that I wouldn’t be able to take my family up to Hervey Bay to see me race that format for a second time.  It was an unreal experience winning in the inaugural event earlier this year, and I am overwhelmed that our race video has been watched by over 100,000 people across Facebook and YouTube.

Secondly, lockdowns around the Country have impacted everyone.  We haven’t had the worst of it up here in Queensland, being confined to a 10km radius from your home is still something that is less than ideal when it comes to training! Further, it casts significant doubt on the ability to travel to any of the races for the rest of the year.

Finally, injury! After needing 2 months off swimming and running earlier in the year from a slipped disc at the top of my back, I hoped that the MRI machine was well and truly behind me.  Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to be conservative, we brought the run mileage back a little too quickly, and I have landed with patellar tendinopathy in my right leg.  While I am very confident that the rehab will get back to full training soon enough, I am conscious that it didn’t take a lot of run milage for my body to break down.

So, it hasn’t gone to plan over the past few months – that is for sure. But there are three things that have absolutely come to the fore as a result of the above.

The importance of a great support team

At the moment of achieving something truly incredible, the overwhelming support and encouragement you get from everyone is incredible. But there is a much much smaller team that provides that same level of support when things aren’t going to plan. From my wife Lisa and our immediate family as well as my close friends – I wouldn’t be able to stay positive and remain focused on the job at hand without all of them. I am also extremely grateful to my allied health team (Sports Dr, GP, Physio, Massage Therapist, Podiatrist) for coming together as a team and are continually doing everything they can to help me get back to full flight and achieve this goal in May 2022. 

The opportunity to look at the problem from a different angle

Luckily I haven’t had many injuries in my life, so when I get two within a few months of each other, it means I need to take a different approach to the problem!    Confident or delusional, I truly believe I have the athletic potential to develop into an athlete who can break 20 hours for Ultraman.  But, this simply won’t happen if I fail to be consistent.

So instead of coming up with a full list of races to train hard for, I am taking the next couple of months to go back to basics. To find true efficiency in all three sports, to work hard on my strength and conditioning, my core/stability, find those weaknesses, and turn them into strengths.  Instead of focusing on high mileage training, focus instead on high efficiency and perfect form all while working extremely hard in the gym to ensure I am bulletproof.  Then, when the time is ready, I will be in a position to absorb all the heavy volume that this undertaking will require.

How much I want this

Finally, if there was any doubt – canceled races, lockdowns, and injury have reinforced my hunger for the Kanguru Sub 20 Challenge. I am not the most gifted athlete by any means, but I do know, that with the support of my team and my sponsors, we are capable of something truly extraordinary in 9 months’ time.

Thanks for following along this journey and I look forward to posting a monthly blog between now and the race in May 2022.