When you hear the word “Ironman”, you tend to think of Robert Downey Jr. flying around in a flashy, red, metal suit. While it certainly is synonymous “superhero”, the Ironman we’re talking about is focused more on physical prowess and less on flashy metal.
Nose Creek’s very own Ironman, Shelby Wogsberg, recounts her journey to becoming an Ironman below. From all of us at Nose Creek, we are infinitely proud of you, Shelby!
What is the Ironman Race?
Ironman: 3.84 km swim, 180 km bike ride and 42.2 km run… all in under 17 hours
To become one, you must train your body both mentally and physically. Your mental state cannot be one of knowing that you will complete the race; but believing that you can do it because it is not an easy race to endure, nor accomplish. Of course if it were easy, everyone would do it. Hence, only the crazy people do it… or so I’m told.
Ironman founder John Collins said it best: “Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles. Brag for the rest of your life.”
Preparing my body for this day took a lot more effort than I had originally thought. I trained for an entire year, 6 months being general training, and 6 months being specific to the set Ironman course. It required dedication after coming home from a full day working as a Physiotherapist to train for 2-3 hours during the weekdays and 4-8 hours on a weekend day.
This left my body exhausted and prone to injury, and much to my dismay, I did sustain injuries, although minor, during my training.
Shelby’s Training Injuries and How She Treated Them
The first injury that I remember was early on in my training. During a training run, I could feel my left calf start to nag at me and I thought I had strained it. As you should when you start to feel a nagging pain anywhere on your body, I had this checked by my Physiotherapist, and, disappointingly it was actually coming from my back and was likely an injury that had been developing over time.
With that being said, I still had to cut back on my training and lay low on my running; however, this still left me with plenty of training for the swimming and biking portions of the course, as well as strength and conditioning. As running is a high impact activity, I was ordered to rest, but I did begin specific Physiotherapy based exercises to help speed up the healing process for my calf. Before I knew it, 4 weeks later I was back running.
It wasn’t until early May that I sustained my next injury that would keep me going to Physiotherapy sessions for weekly treatments until race day.
During a routine 2 km swim one night, I heard a pop in my neck and all of a sudden felt a searing headache creep up the base of my skull and wrap around to the front side of my head. I also became very nauseous and had to exit the water immediately.
I knew instantly that I had strained some ligaments in my neck and potentially strained some of the smaller musculature surrounding these vertebrae. When I saw my Physiotherapist the following Thursday, I was diagnosed with a craniovertebral dysfunction (i.e. the joint that holds my skull to my cervical spine), meaning that the joint and its musculature had suffered injury.
This was one of my more serious injuries, and was an injury that required weekly Physiotherapy treatments and a daily exercise program to be completed. The reason why this injury required more attention was because of my unwillingness to stop training during the time that I sustained this injury. I was less than 12 weeks out from my race day and training becomes critical at this time, so each week I had my impairment adjusted by my Physiotherapist, and each day I did my daily home exercise program.
All of which greatly helped with the healing of this injury, but it is still one that I am having treated today due to my lack of rest during the healing of this injury.
A couple of weeks later in May after sustaining my neck injury, I also sustained a rib injury from swimming as well. You wouldn’t think that swimming is such a dangerous sport, but I was only rotating to one side to breathe, putting myself at greater risk of sustaining injury. This is why it is so important to listen to your Physiotherapist when they advise you to change your movement pattern in your sport in order to reduce your risk of injury.
I did try breathing to both sides, but because of my lack of rotation to my left side, I often found that this was an unnatural pattern for me and I felt like I was drowning. I know lifeguards are present at the pool, but the last thing you actually want them to do is think you are drowning, so I made the conscious choice to keep my breathing pattern the same as it has always been and only breathe to my right side.
Luckily for me, I got to keep seeing my Physiotherapist for weekly treatments regarding my rib and was also able to complete a home exercise program designed to help strengthen the musculature surrounding this rib, as well as helping to maintain mobility of my thoracic spine, which holds the ribs in place. This is also an injury that I am still dealing with, due to my lack of rest during the healing phase of this injury. Fortunately, these are the only injuries that I sustained during my intense training period preparing for this race.
Shelby’s Past Injuries and How They Were Treated
During other events I raced in prior to completing Ironman this year, I did sustain injuries.
For example, I ran the Calgary Marathon on May 28th of this year and sustained blisters to the bottoms of my feet, which opened and became infected. This pushed back my training for a week and a half, while I had to allow the skin tissue to heal and for the medication to clear up the infection. During this event, I also sustained heat stroke and after finishing the race, I collapsed into the arms of my best friend and was wheeled to the medical tent for proper medical attention.
Not all of my injuries were able to be treated by Physiotherapy, so it is important to recognize which injuries can be treated by which professionals, whether it be a Physiotherapist or not. With that being said, all of my musculoskeletal injuries were able to be treated by a Physiotherapist who kept me up and running during the duration of my training and actual race days.
During my half Ironman and my full Ironman, I did not sustain any injuries. I consider myself lucky, as I watched a lot of fellow athletes go down with injuries during the event and not be able to complete the race. To that end, 251 athletes did not finish Ironman Canada this year. These athletes may or may not have been injured during the race itself and may have not completed it for other reasons altogether, but I am happy to say that I am part of the group of 1,153 athletes who did complete this race, as grueling as it was, and I now have the right to say that I am an Ironman.
Need help in feeling like a superhero yourself? Call Shelby today at our Beddington location at 403.800.3373 to book your next appointment!