This is going to be a weekly post about all things preparatory for the trip. Everything from choosing kit and clothes to gadgets and gizmos to exercises and nutrition. I’ll try and include as much expert advice as I do my own opinion/experience! I’m going to start by getting people up to speed about where I am physically and how I’ve got here.
Fear not, this is not the blog for born survivor super athletes! More for try hard couch potatoes!
Right, a little history. I’ve got injuries from dislocations to sprains to tears and breaks in most of my joints with the first serious injury coming at 12 with my back which still affects me now and the most serious being my knees and shoulders which I’ve dislocated more times than I’d like to remember, mostly playing rugby as I did for 20years from 4-24! My main problem was that I wasn’t very good at rugby but I was playing at a high level. This made me push myself back from injuries too soon and carry injuries through game after game. At one point I was playing three serious games of rugby a week and training six times a week. Whilst this is monumentally bad for the body and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone it has proven to me what my body can be put through if I’m determined enough. Pigheadedness always beats pain!
I did my first bike ride from London to Cape Town on the advice of my rugby physio in France, I think he meant cycling from Toulouse to Barcelona of Toulouse to Paris but that said it worked. When I got to Cape Town my knee was bombproof and as strong as it’s ever been. Sadly a crash had smashed up my shoulder; sitting hunched on a bike with poor form had destroyed my core; and pedalling for 12000miles had made me the least flexible man on earth. These slowly subsided/healed in the year I spent in Korea so much so that I could play rugby again which allowed me to pop my knee cap out just three weeks before I was due to set off from Korea to Cape Town! Korea to Cape Town was 22000miles, took 14months and the usual core destroying toll on my body. You’d think after 34000miles in the saddle I’d have worked out how to protect my back but no!
So I arrived at Core Cambridge for my initial assessment expecting them to impressed with my tanlines and overly strong quads! Amazingly, they concentrated on the hypermobility in all my joints (no strength and control in my joints) and my staggering lack of core strength. This didn’t paint a pretty picture to them for a guy who’s looking to do 2.2million strokes across the Atlantic! Swimming depends heavily on core strength-people bang on and on about core strength but it is the most important area of your body-it’s the area that allow you to deliver power to the outside world. Without a decent core then any effort I’d put into pulling my body through the water would be absorb by my sloppy core and cause the joint to rub, creak and tear on itself.
Over the next few months I’ll go through some of the tiny movements and control excercises that I’ve been doing to make my stroke more efficient and to injuryproof my body.