The IRONMAN 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship in Cebu Philippines would have seen Josh Amberger as one of the race favourites but an injury unfortunately saw him pulling out of the event. As with any sport, injuries play a big role in an athlete’s career. Adversity and perseverance are familiar words that sportspeople often deal with which is why we wanted to uncover how Josh Amberger takes injury in his stride.
The Injury and Recovery
I had a mild case of ITB (Iliotibial Band) syndrome (aka runner's knee), which is when the long thin band of fascia that stretches from your hip, along your thigh and attaches to your upper tibia, just below the knee becomes inflamed. My discomfort was localized around the bursa of my knee which became extremely painful and debilitating. It was mid-July when I felt this, and timed two weeks after Ironman Frankfurt when my training load was increasing again, it was easy to put the cause down to a slow recovery from the race. I was travelling in Europe and didn't have consistent access to massage and bodywork, which of course is always essential for recovery. Recovery involved lots of massage, chiropractic, and also ancillary to this, lots of soda crystals in a wrap and bath form to reduce fluids and swelling caused by the tightness and inflammation.
The ITB got really painful one week out from Ironman 70.3 Cebu, and it was an easy call to withdraw from this race as I didn't want to take any chances in worsening the injury and prolonging the recovery. I rebooked my flights from Spain to Australia, without the stopover for the race in the Philippines. It was unfortunate timing as this event was an Asia-Pacific title, and a well reputed event that I've always wanted to win. But with recovery the focus, I didn't regret it. For the first time in my life I got a business upgrade for one of the legs back from Europe, which was a real boon for the morale. I've always had a chip on my shoulder hearing about all these upgrades people get, but I finally got one! Lying flat with more space really makes a difference when travelling, as I find sitting for long periods of time puts my pelvis out of alignment and tightens my back and neck up, which manifests quite badly once you start training on the other end.
I was back to training once I got home as I'd already given the injury a week of rest, which was enough to reset it and begin running again. I guess the lessons are to always keep consistency with recovery and not lapse into complacency. It's easy to get a big event like an IRONMAN over and done with, and you think you can just walk away and start thinking about the next one or resume training. The stress from the race takes a while to leave your system, and I got a good reminder of that.
As luck would have it, I was supposed to race in the Sunshine Coast IRONMAN 70.3 but managed to pick up a cold which hindered my training and resulted in opting out of the race all together. It’s unfortunate as Kona is fast approaching and I very much would have liked the race simulation before the World Championships but that’s sport and sometimes you must roll with the punches.
With World Championships in Kona now less than 5 weeks away, the excitement and eagerness is building significantly. Having had adequate time to recover from my injuries and illness, my training regime has picked up a few notches. Obviously this is good for the fitness, but also the confidence and mental aspect of racing as well. Nothing in sport is ever achieved without hard work, and for a triathlete, nothing can replace the feeling of working hard day in and day out. It’s what makes us feel ready to race. My mindset heading into Kona is much similar to last year. Facing off against some very experienced and senior athletes as a relative rookie myself is not an easy thing, but it’s not a limiting factor in any way either. I don’t feel the pressure to go into the race and say I want to win or podium or anything, because while I of course want to do those things in time, I’m still a young athlete and Kona is a race that success rarely comes before some failure. So with that in mind, I will race with my best effort in mind and in body, and we’ll have to see what the outcome is on the day!