Roy's Story

"I was able to resume intensive athletic training"

After being diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, Roy had to give up his beloved Ironman athletic training. In January 2006 he discovered the Flat Pad Support and began wearing it to control his hernia. The pain relief was rapid and allowed him to resume intensive athletic training despite the hernia. By July he had completely forgotten about his hernia and went on to run the gruelling Ironman triathlon with no sign of a bulge: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. Here is the personal diary that Roy kept of his hernia treatment without surgery.

running with a hernia

Roy's diary

"I begin testing the Flat Pad Support"

Tuesday 17 Jan 2006: Worked (window-cleaning) wearing the support for the first time. Went running for 5 minutes and did the Pilates exercises, felt ok.
Wednesday 18 Jan 2006: Same as Tuesday
Thursday 19 Jan 2006: Worked wearing the support. Ran 2 miles at lunchtime, then 4 miles in the evening without the support. Felt a slight bulge. Also fitted in 20 minutes of massage and stretching before running, and 10 minutes of Pilates exercises afterwards.
Friday 20 Jan 2006: Wore support AM. Cycled 40 miles without the support. Wore the support until bedtime. 10 mins Pilates. No bulge.
Saturday 21 Jan 2006: Ran 12 miles, wore the support all day. 30 mins Pilates, slight bulge.
Sunday 22 Jan 2006: Ran 4 miles without the support. Wore the support for the rest of the day. 20 mins stretches and Pilates - same as Saturday.
Monday 23 Jan 2006: 30 mins indoor cycling (turbo) without the support, stayed in. Did a few light back exercises. Have decided to give up swimming (which I hate) until February. Also trying to exercise pelvic floor whenever I think of it.
Tuesday 24 Jan 2006: Wore the support all the time, ran 2 miles. 40 minutes massage and Pilates, only noticed slight bulge at bedtime. Wore the support at work all day, getting used to it, slight bulge by bedtime.
Wednesday 25 Jan 2006: Slight bulge in AM. Wore the support, ran 5 miles ok, slight bulge by bedtime. Wore the support at work all day, getting used to it, slight bulge by bedtime.
Thursday 26 Jan 2006: Wore the support, 30 mins indoor bike (turbo), 2 miles run and 30 minutes Pilates, hernia same as previous days. Wore the support at work all day, getting used to it, slight bulge by bedtime.
Friday 27 Jan 2006: Wore the support, biked 40 miles and ran 3 miles, hernia ok all day.
Saturday 28 Jan 2006: Wore the support. 10 miles running and 45 mins Pilates exercises. No problems with hernia.
Sunday 29 Jan 2006: Wore the support. Four mile run with no bulge.
Tuesday 31 Jan 2006: Wore the support all day from getting up until bedtime (except showering!) Noticed bulge only first thing in the morning, otherwise it was in all day (even first thing in the morning the bulge was only just noticeable).
End of first two weeks summary

The next two weeks

The bulge does seem smaller, but it's difficult to say. It does not appear to be getting worse. Also, I have found biking and running very good for thoracic breathing as when doing these activities the abdomen is naturally pulled in. I am finding the Pilates exercises very good for posture and breathing. I always feel nicely 'stretched' afterwards. As regards work, window cleaning requires a fair amount of stretching, carrying and bending. I was using a double-sided support but I cut the right-hand side off and found this was more comfortable. I have also lost a small amount of weight (1.5kg) which has helped the support fit better!
Wednesday 01 Feb 2006: Same as Tuesday but I ran 5 miles.I only worked two days this week, too cold!
Thursday 02 Feb 2006: 30 mins turbo bike and 45 mins massage and Pilates. I did not notice any bulge all day.
Friday 03 Feb 2006: For a change I did a 10-mile cross-country walk. I wore the support all day. No problems with hernia. Also fitted in 45 mins Pilates before the walk.
Saturday 04 Feb 2006: Noticed bulge again first thing AM, very small. Ran 10 miles plus massage and Pilates exercises. Hernia ok up to bedtime. Wore the support all day.
Sunday 05 Feb 2006: 1½ hour's mountain bike ride followed by short run, stretching and massage. Saw hardly any sign of hernia.
End of first three weeks summary

After the first three weeks

I'm getting used to wearing the support all day now. I still find it a bit restrictive when working but it seems to be serving its purpose. Working days are the hardest as I am usually active and on my feet for up to 8 hours a day, stretching and bending plus some carrying, so this is probably an extra strain (on the hernia). The programme is certainly keeping the hernia in. It's impossible to say if it is reducing in size as it is so small anyway, but I definitely feel that the combination of Pilates exercises, massage twice a day with the oil, and wearing the support may be helping, even if just keeping it stable. The only down side is still having to work those 2 days a week, because of the extra strain. I am certainly enjoying the program, finding it informative and am learning from it.

Weeks 5-19 February 2006: In this period I arranged to work for only two days and so was able to concentrate on fitting in more exercise and Pilates. Went running most days plus a few long bike rides. I have worn the support at all times. Have also devised a means of swimming with the support on and so have reinstated this part of my training. As advised by Craig, I have not been carrying out a daily check on my hernia and so am not aware of it. Have also heard of two recent reports of operations going wrong so am determined to continue with the regime. Have been doing Pilates exercises four times a week, 30-45 minutes duration, and feel that the combination of this, plus diet and support is having a beneficial effect. I am feeling fitter, healthier and more 'toned', especially around the lower abdomen and pelvic area. I ran the Dover half marathon on 19th February in 1 hour 35 minutes, the best time for several years so something must be working. I think that after the end of February I will use all my spare time preparing for my ironman triathlon at the end of June.
Week 20th February to 26th February: After last Sunday's race I've had a fairly easy week. I have done three hours of Pilates altogether, run four times and done two short bike rides. I'm keeping up the swimming, which I am able to do wearing my support. I swam a fairly hard 2,000 metres on Thursday without feeling any 'pull' around my hernia, so I am pleased with this whereas a few months ago I was always conscious of some slight discomfort when swimming. I have taken advantage of the bad weather this week so instead of working outdoors I have concentrated on indoor work, i.e. decorating (badly needed). This involved a fair amount of ladder work and lots of stretching so I have been careful but have suffered no ill effects.

cycling with hernia

Met two old friends who had opted for hernia surgery

Over the weekend I met with a couple of old friends, both of whom have recently undergone surgery for hernias.

Case 1: Gordon, 66 years old. Until a few years ago he was one of this country's best runners and triathletes in his age group. He then had a lot of bad luck, starting with major surgery for prostate cancer. Just recovering from this he was knocked off his bike while training and broke his pelvis and pubic bone, from which he has never recovered. Last year he developed a hernia, was operated on and has been in pain ever since. He now has a second hernia on the opposite side and has been advised by his daughter, who is a top medical consultant in Tasmania, not to have another operation but to take up abdominal strengthening exercises instead! By the way, Gordon did Pilates some years ago so he was very interested in the Herniabible system.

Case 2: John, 41 years old and a keen cyclist had his operation three weeks ago but did not realise the after effects and discomfort he would have to put up with. Since his operation he has had a very bad cough and cold, unknown for him, so is worried about the side effects all the coughing and sneezing has had on his wound. He is also noticing some pain and discomfort on the other side, so again is worried he may have a second hernia. As he is self-employed and his work can be quite heavy at times, he has no option (for financial reasons) other than to return to work early. Incidentally, John is also a 'Bowen' practitioner. He occasionally comes over and gives Trish and I a Bowen treatment. It is a cross between acupuncture and finding the correct trigger points in the body, very relaxing and good for injuries. John is also keen to learn Pilates.

Preparing for the Quelle Challenge triathlon

I am now faced with a 16-week training schedule in preparation for Iron Roth Triathlon (now called Quelle Challenge Triathlon) on 2nd July 2006. The event consists of a 2.4 mile open water canal swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and finally a 26.2 mile marathon run. The time limit for the whole event is 15 hours, so I will be building up to 15-20 hours training per week. Bearing in mind that I am approaching 60 (next April) and have not done an Ironman for two years, will I be able to do the required training without any adverse effect on my hernia (which I had forgotten about since regularly doing Pilates exercises and continually wearing my support)

Week 5-11 March 2006: Easy week as racing is next weekend. Week's total: Bike 30 mins, Run 16 miles
Week 12-18 March 2006: Sunday ran Hastings ½ Marathon in 1 hour 38 mins. Week's total: Swim 2000m, Bike 88 miles, Run 21 miles, 4 Pilates sessions
Week 19-25 March 2006: Week's total: Swim 1200m, Bike 82 miles, Run 24 miles, 3 Pilates sessions
Week 26 March-1 April 2006: Week's total: Swim 2000m, Bike 75 miles, Run 16 miles, 4 Pilates sessions. Also did two 10-mile walks with Trish
Week 2-8 April 2006: Sunday raced at Seaford, 5 km run, 30 km bike and swim. Won age group in 1hr 51 mins. Wore my support and had no problems. Week's total: Swim 1500m, Bike 143 miles, Run 17 miles, 3 Pilates sessions
Week 9-15 April 2006: Week's total: Swim 2,500m, Bike 114 miles, Run 26 miles, 4 Pilates sessions
Week 16-22 April 2006: Sunday, raced at Dover, a double triathlon, consisting of short pool swim, bike and run and them repeat - very hard. Week's total: Swim 4,500m, Bike 123 miles, Run 35 miles, 4 Pilates sessions
Week 23-29 April 2006: Had a rare rest day on Sunday, then fairly hard training week. Week's total: Swim 4,500m, Bike 112 miles, Run 45 miles, 3 Pilates sessions
Week 30 April-06 May 2006: Fairly easy training week, but included first sea swim of 15 minutes. Very cold. Week's total: Swim 5,000m, Bike 128 miles, Run 23 miles, 4 Pilates sessions
Week 07-13 May 2006: Second sea swim (20 minutes) on Sunday, followed by 2 mile run to warm up. Fairly easy week as raced on 11/05 in the evening at Deal, a run/bike/run. Week's total: Swim 5,000m, Bike 66 miles, Run 20 miles, 3 Pilates sessions
Week 14-20 May 2006: I know i am getting fitter. Resting heart rate (RHR) is now 38, weight has dropped to 9 stone but sleeping and eating well. Week's total: Swim 1500m, Bike 112 miles, Run 29 miles, 3 Pilates sessions
Week 21-27 May 2006: 6 weeks to race day, can't wait! Sunday got in a very rough sea at Rock-a-Nore with Rob, great fun but scary. Ran 16 miles afterwards, good. Week's total: Swim 3,000m, Bike 118 miles, Run 35 miles, 4 Pilates sessions
Week 28 May-03 June 2006: Decided to have another rest day (Sat 3rd). Week's total: Swim 3,000m, Bike 90 miles, Run 21 miles, 3 Pilates sessions
Week 04-10 June 2006: Raced at Ardingly on Sunday 4th, sprint triathlon, did ok. Weather improving so I did two 1-mile sea swims on Friday and Saturday. Week's total: Swim 3,500m, Bike 110 miles, Run 28 miles, 4 Pilates sessions
Week 11-17 June 2006: Have a 2-mile sea swim planned for Saturday 17th so fingers crossed for good weather. Week's total: Swim 4,500m, Bike 80 miles, Run 29 miles, 3 Pilates sessions. Saturday swam harbour to pier and back, 71 minutes, 2 miles total, strong current coming back and chilly but pleased with time, should swim Ironman leg (2.4 miles) in 75 mins.


The big event

Basically all training is now over. I'm just ticking over now for 2 weeks until the race on 2nd July. I leave for Germany on the 23rd so have a week before resting and relaxing, just doing a bit of swimming in the lake with Trish, a bit of cycling and a few short runs, again with Trish. Met up with Nick on Thursday 29th (Nick also racing). I wore my support for all my training and even devised a means so that I could swim wearing it. Also practised Pilates 3-4 sessions per week, 30-40 minutes per session.

2nd July Quellle Challenge, Roth Triathlon, Ironman distance

The largest mass participation triathlon on the planet: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. Weather and crowds fantastic. 2,500 individual starters and some 1,500 relay team starters. Started at 7.20am. I found the swim comfortable, but slow, 1hr 19 mins. Had a good bike, taking it easy ready for the marathon. Biked 6 hrs 38 mins, felt good on run, especially when I passed Nick, pulled back a lot of places on the run and started to really get going after 30km. Ran 4456 metres, total time, 13hr, 02 mins. Placed 1656 out of some 4,000 starters, 26th in age group. As usual, Trish was out all day supporting. I couldn't do it without her!
To sum up...

I don't think I would have been able to put in the training successfully without the help of my Pilates exercises and wearing my support (although it was not practical to wear it on race day). I felt better prepared for this race than most of my previous ten Ironmen and seemed to suffer no ill effects.

2008 Update
We did not see Roy for two years after this report. But in September 2008 he confirmed that his hernia had completely disappeared, and appeared to be successfully cured without surgery. He had not needed to wear his Flat Pad Support for some time.