Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Need a Lifestyle Change"

Well I went for my follow up visit to the Specialist on Tuesday, a week after my knee surgery and I didn't like what he said.

After three operations to the same knee and removing some cartilage at each one there ain't not much left on the inside of my right knee.

According to him if I carry on the way I am, running long distance, I will only be able to continue doing it for another two years max. My initial reaction was OK see you in two years then we remove some more cartilage but maybe that's not the brightest idea.

When I started talking to him about Ironman and when I can start training again he bluntly said: "You need a lifestyle change" I didn't like it but maybe it's that old saying "The truth hurts" He says I have a choice: Continue the way I am and in two years I won't be able to run anymore, never mind the distance.

Or I can switch to shorter distance Triathlon and will have more than two years but also not guaranteed to last forever. His suggestion is to switch to Cycling or find another sport that doesn't involved heavy impact on the knee.

At this stage I am confused, angry and frustrated and need to make a decision but don't want to make one. Maybe I can still do Ironman's but not competitive anymore. Will work hard on my bike and swim and just do short distance running. That way I might hammer the swim and bike at Ironman, run the first 10-15km's of the marathon and then walk the rest.

Another option is to switch to half Ironman distance racing?

At least he gave me the go ahead to get back at Bike and Swim training but no Running for another four weeks. I emailed coach and we adjusted my training, guess it's now time to improve some more on the bike and finally focus on getting my swimming better. I've also asked coach for some feedback on how little running one can get away with to still be competitive at an HIM or IM.

One good sign is my knee doesn't bother me on the bike and my power is down but not as much as I thought. Yesterday's and Today's bike sessions were good. Amazing how some training can lift the spirit.

I've also watched a lot of swim videos on improving technique (or in my case getting technique) and I am now spending a lot of my training session working on technique and not just piling on the miles. Thanks Nina and Russell for the swim video links, appreciate.
My younger sister, Heloise, DJ and my older sister's son,Tiaan

Last weekend my sister and her family from Polokwane (about 300km up north) came to visit and we had a great time. They were on their way to the South Coast for holiday and then we will see them again for Christmas.

Heloise, Mom, Etresia, Kim, me and DJ

DJ was fooling around with the Santa hat and at one stage Eddy got hold of it and what a mission to catch him to get it back, one fast little doggy


  1. Phew.... that is a tough pill to swallow man. This is my greatest fear in my life, being told I cannot maintain my lifestyle or have to give up running all together.

    My thoughts are with you buddy. Keep your head straight and it sounds like the doctors are giving you solid advice, be careful how far you push the program, you have your family to think of too.

    Good luck.

  2. Johan that really sucks, I'm so sorry. I'm sure you'll come up with a new plan/strategy for something new and exciting with your coaches and your family. You must be so frustrated though.

    As always I LOVE the pics of your family, especially, Eddy.

  3. Phuck that.

    Go see a real doctor. I speak from experience - find a doctor that is familiar with practicing medicine with endurance athletes. Get a second opinion.

    Most doctors would scould you for even thinking about Ironman racing even if you were in peak physical condition. They'd tell you not to do it.

    Find a doctor that doesn't have a biased opinion. Preferably one that does endurance racing themself. If your doctors are like ours, most of them are fat old geazers that couldn't run around the block. They don't get it.

    It doesn't hurt to get a second opinion anyhow.

    Just sayin'

    PS> They told me the same thing about my knees. Albeit I'm younger at 32.

  4. Johan
    As always- great photos, you have an awesome family. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Very tough news from the doctor, you have options..and time to consider your plan. A friend of mine ran Boston marathon this year, got injured a week later and did only two training runs before racing IMWI in September. He finished with something like a 4:30 marathon. He swam swam swam all summer along with his riding. Non weight bearing activity and eating right he gained no weight and still completed the marathon without walking.

    Hard news but you will get it sorted out. Good luck.


  5. Johan that sucks, must get a second and a third opinion and make sure you get them from people who really know athletes and preferably one who runs long him/herself.

    Secondly, read Born to Run, it's a great read but it talks about barefoot running and how changing your running gait can not only make you able to run longer without injury but also faster too.

    I'm not saying it's the answer but barefoot running naturally forces you to run "light", if you do most of your training barefoot or with Vibram 5 fingers then do the Ironman in your Newtons that might be a solution.

    Read the book first because that's all I’ve done so far - I've bought a pair of Vibram's but haven't used them yet.

    Good luck buddy, wishing you well.

    Happy Christmas to you and the girls (and Eddie of course).

  6. That is sucky news - can you get a second opinion? Then get another one - this is serious stuff this Doctor is saying...Sometimes hearing what a few people say gives you more options..if they all say the same thing, well, then, you are sure they are right. Good luck, I am totally thinking of you. That is totally something I fear.

    Awww. Eddy. Such a cutie!

  7. J, wow, I was just catching up on blog reading and yours was the first I went to and WHAM!!!! It's a doosy.

    I can't imagine how you must be feeling, it must be a shock. I know you're like me and we are IRONMAN. To be told you can't do it, WOW, that's all I can say.

    I guess the upside is you can still bike, I'm not sure if swimming more is an upside. haha.

    I wish I had some advice for you. The responsible thing would be to take his advice or get one more opionion before you do.

    The one thing is you're one hell of a strong cyclist and specializing isn't necessary a bad thing. Maybe throw in an Ironman every 4 or 5 years, just so your Ironman card doesn't expire. haha

    Although in your case, this is more than a shame, you are a sub 10 hour potential guy. I still can't believe the news. It's really bothering me because I know how tough this must be for you right now.

    Anything I can do, let me know. Wow.


  8. Johan, I'm so sorry for the news. Maybe the best option now is just you own "need to make a decision but don't want to make one". Take your time, maybe have other opinions, but possibly the best option now is to take you time. The final answer will probably be a natural one after some time of thinking.
    I wish you have a happy Christmas with you nic family, and hope we can see us soon. Best regards, Carlos

  9. Sorry for the news Johan.. maybe its a blessing in disguise.. don't worry.. Everything has a reason.. God always knows what's best for us.. We just have to have faith.. :)