What Has Happened to Stefan???

After so much racing, so much success last year, quite likely you have been wondering what the heck has happened to Stefan.  Well wonder no more.  The following update has just come in from Stefan, himself:

It’s been a while since I contributed to the Fiera Race Team blog but here I am again. I was dealing with a long lasting Achilles tendon injury which finally, after about 6 months, eases off. It was a truly depressing and very painful time. Running wasn’t possible at all, however, since about 6 weeks I am able to run again. It still does hurt every now and then but it feels like it is getting better. But on the other end I also had a very wonderful time when Sanja and I got married in Germany on July 16th.

The wedding was absolutely amazing and we even had some people from Edmonton there (Simmon Hofstetter, Andrea and Darren McGregor, Robin Braconnaire and her boyfriend Joe Baker). The rest of the time we spent cycling, eating and travelling. We also had a little one week honeymoon on the lovely island Dugi Otok in Croatia where we met up with Andrea and Darren again. We had some really fun times cooking fresh fish, scuba diving and cycling; and it actually was on this very island when I started running again.

At first it was only a couple hundred meters but after a few days I made it up to about 3km. My Achilles tendon didn’t hurt at all during this time and I thought it was finally over – but it wasn’t. Once we came back to Edmonton it started to hurt again and swelled up badly. I was totally desperate and decided I will just start running again – through the pain – because if I not start doing anything soon I can erase IM Cozumel from my calendar. “Hop or Top” became my motto. I know it’s crazy to do such a thing but what did I have to lose? My time was running out and the pain persisted for 6 months now even though I did things like “eccentric calf muscle strengthening”, stretching in general, massaging etc. but nothing seemed to work. The first runs were painful and I wasn’t sure whether it’s a good idea to just keep running, but, believe it or not, after about 10 days it got better. You might say now it could be a coincidence and the injury just healed up during the same time when you started running again but I don’t think so. Whenever I had a few days off running it would hurt more than during periods in which I ran more frequently. The really funny part of this story is, however, that when Sanja and I were in Serbia her uncle Boban (a marathoner himself) told me “Run 30k straight through and it will get better”. At that time I couldn’t even think of running because it was so painful and I told him “If I would run 30k straight I probably won’t be able to run at all anymore”. Apparently, he knew better.

So, that was a brief summary of what happened to me in the past months. Now what are the plans for the rest of the year?

After finishing IM Hawaii last year I told myself you have to come back here and try better. There is still so much room for improvement. As you may know from previous blog contributions I focus on one sport every year with the long term goal of becoming an overall good triathlete and making it into the top five in my age group in Hawaii as well as going sub 9 hours at some point along my Ironman “career”.

Last year was all about running and doing bricks, whereas this year is in the sign of swimming. In November 2010, I started swimming 3 to 4 times per week and moved up to about 7 km on some training sessions in early summer of this year. Honestly, I have no idea how much this will give me in terms of minutes but I am sure the swim will at least feel better.

I also had to stop cycling due to my injury when it was really bad. With the first races coming up I decided to just do them and see how the Achilles tendon will respond. To get into some sort of a shape I did a few of my “one hour all out workouts”. Of all the races I did this year, the Banff Bike Fest was by far the best!! This was the most amazing cycling race I ever did here in Canada. Beautiful and fast with a whole bunch of great people! I can only recommend it. If you have a road-racing license, then definitely do it next year!

For Cozumel I spend all my time on the trainer. I do 3 to 4 trainer workouts a week ranging from 60min during the week and up to 240min on the weekend. Even though these longer rides are at a relatively low intensity the do kick the fudge out of me and I am usually trashed for the rest of the day. Here’s a nice quote from world class Canadian triathlete Peter Reid: ”I get the same intensity out of a 90-minute workout on the trainer than I do from three or four hours on the road.” I totally agree and if time is the limiting factor for you give it a try! Especially during the long cold Canadian winter 😉

As for running the first half of the year was pretty devastating due to my Achilles tendon injury, as you already know. Now it’s great again and I am very happy. I am now in training week 6 (out of 14) and I am super pumped for Cozumel. My training results, particularly for running, are awesome! I can hardly believe it myself. The reason for that must be due to the fact that I was running lots last year and not only quantity but also quality. That means I spent most of the time doing speed and threshold workouts on the track. This year when I started running again I went back on the track and did a 2 by 20min threshold run to see where I was in terms of running. Amazingly enough this test resulted in an average pace of 3:48min/km for the first 20min and then a 4:10min/km for the second 20min. This totally blew me away and I couldn’t believe that without running for 6 months I am still able to pull that off. Sure, the second 20min were way slower and that must be due to lack of training but it showed that my running investment of last year wasn’t lost. Long story short, I believe that, if staying consistent for the next few years, I will be able to reach my goals.

Here is a little summary of my results and what still is going to come:

Place   Race                                       Category         Date
?            Ironman Cozumel             M30-34          11/27/2011 
DNS    Challenge Roth                    M30-34          06/10/2011                                        
45       Banff Bike Fest – RR            Cat 3               06/19/2011                                     
8          Banff Bike Fest – Crit          Cat 3               06/18/2011                                  
4          Banff Bike Fest – ITT            Cat 3               06/18/2011                  
8          Pigeon Lake Road                 Cat 3               05/29/2011                                 
12       Velocity Stage Race – Crit   Cat 3              05/15/2011                               
5          Velocity Stage Race – ITT   Cat 3             05/15/2011                            

That’s it for now! Stay tuned and talk to you after November 27th.

Stefan

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