If You’re Going to Play You’re Going to Pay

Archery is a safe sport. Rare accidents happen that involve cracked arrows or people poking themselves with their broadheads. But, for the most part archery is safe.

It is possible to injure a shoulder by pulling too much weight or over use. Lars Andersen’s archery acrobatics will catch up with him and he’ll take a tumble. And bow hunters will continue to fall out of tree stands. But, next to badminton archery is the safest sport.

Archery, however, isn’t the only sport where I compete or play at it. Five years of football left me minus a meniscus. Boating put me in surgery when I impaled my leg with a sharp pointed chunk of galvanized steel. But, those aren’t the most frequent type of injuries for me – the majority came from cycling.


In competitive cycling athletes are going to crash. I can’t recall the numbers of mornings, following a crash, when I’d awaken to find my road rash had sealed me to the sheets. Most of my crashes were near the finish line where things become chaotic. One particularly bad crash lost me a National Championship and landed me in the hospital. Another rough one was going downhill at 48 mph when my front tire went flat. I left a lot of skin on the road following that slide.

There are plenty of ways to get hurt when doing sports or playing hard. For example, bouncing through the woods on an ATV can leave wrists sore. Soreness isn’t a bad thing in my book. Crashing an ATV is worse. Jumping waves on a Yamaha Wave Runner will shake you up, but don’t lose control – ever. Crashing on water at 50 mph isn’t fun, and at 70+ mph can be real bad.

Running, as benign as that seems has hurt a lot of people. For me it has meant the lose of a number of toenails. Other folks complain of knee problems, foot problems, or hip problems. Once, while trail running I jumped onto a board to cross a small stream and landed on a nail. That was a shock. After a hard rain before the Ft. Yargo ½ Marathon trail run, the Georgia red clay was so slick I slipped and fell about 10 times. That only left the sore and frustrated.

Swimming has never been a burden to me – getting out of the water hasn’t been as forgiving. On three occasions I have been cut by something while getting out of the water and all three required stitches. The last time, I accepted the stitches in my hand and declined them on my foot. I had that glued closed. I was competing in an Ironman event within a week and didn’t want to bother having the stitches removed. I couldn’t reach the laceration on my foot to have removed the sutures. I took the ones in my hand out before the event. Actually, I got four of the out on my own. The fifth I couldn’t manage using my left hand. I was in a meeting with a group of business people and a physician. I asked the physician if he’d remove the remaining suture. When we took a break he took it out.

About two months ago I was playing hard with my dog. She’s a big girl and tackled me from behind. I knew she was coming, I thought I’d stop her. When she hit, I went up in the air and landed hard. On that landing I smacked my hip on a tree stump – it hurt. A few days later I was in an archery tournament. On downhill slopes, my left hip was uneven and excruciatingly painful. Each downhill shot was a distracting pain. I ended up a disappointing fourth.

To date, I can recall or have some account of 257 official sports events where I competed (excludes little league type events). This means that for every 51.4 events I end up at a world championship. The count doesn’t include the 2011 World Duathlon Championship in Switzerland where I gave up my spot or the 2015 IBO World’s since while I’ve qualified it hasn’t yet been held. If I added them now that is a World Championship every 36.7 events.

It has also meant: 43 stitches (8 separate occasions), two surgeries, three concussions, four broken bones, and too much road rash to remember with one exception. That time I crashed on my bike while on my honeymoon. The fall required an emergency room visit and subsequent mummy-like wrap on my face. Not good timing, not something close to being forgotten by my wife. To be fair to her it’s only been 35 years. However, just two injuries caused me to miss a competitive event. I missed my second Ironman Louisville and second Murrysville Classic Bicycle Race because of an injury.

What brings all of this to mind is the archery tournament in the morning. Why? Well, while playing hard in the yard I sliced my right thumb badly. It was a clean slice and although deep it will close at the expense of bleeding and leaking for a few days. The cut is just at the point where I hold the release while drawing. My guess is Sunday will be a bit bloody even if I’ll be in competing is a very safe sport.

Don’t Under Rate Rest

Rest may be under rated, but not by me. I do a lot of exercise. I always have enjoyed sports and typically found ways to compete and train throughout my “working” days. Now that I have retired from my medical career most of my attention stays on sports. Another way of look at it, most of my attention stays on playing outside.

Living where I do getting to a triathlon or run isn’t as easy as getting to an archery tournament. Whenever I can find a race, typically a run, that doesn’t include an overnight trip I sign up. Most of the events I did in the past were expensive. They included costly entry fees, travel, hotel, and food on the road. For the moment, I try to keep competitive events to day trips.

Runs are cheap and easy when I can find them. Short fast ones are my preference, like a 5K or a 10K. Marathons and ½ marathons are so crowded that they feel more like running in a herd. I’ve considered entering a 50-miler or a 100-miler but think I’d just get too bored.

C-Man Swim

Still, I run and bike a lot. Swimming is on the decline until the weather warms up. Living here in the sticks, there’s not a pool anywhere close by. The running, riding, and shooting takes up 6 – 8 hours of my time 4 – 6 days a week. Fitting in driving time to get to a pool 30 miles away isn’t a priority at the moment.

My typical day starts with a run. River, my dog, is my running partner. We’re frequently joined by a posse of dogs collected along the way. These runs vary in distance and speed.


Once home I shoot. I’ll practice for an hour or two before heading in to take a break and eat. Not eat breakfast, I had that by 0630. I’ll eat a light mid-morning snack. That often includes nuts or pretzels (salty stuff) and is washed down with a “Red Bull”. I’ve got great a sports drink, TriFuel, but I treat that like liquid gold and use it for serious training. The Red Bull gets me mentally alert so I can write.


When I’ve typed a bit it is time for lunch. Following lunch I always take a short nap. A short nap is 15 – 30 minutes where I doubt I go beyond Stage 1 sleep. (The lightest phase of sleep where one is easily aroused) Then, I regroup for the afternoon workouts.

In the afternoon I’ll ride, up to 50 miles now that the days are longer and warmer. I’ll also shoot again for for up to 3 hours (typically less). That means a lot of walking.


When I say a lot of walking, I am not kidding. My targets reach 60 yards and I’ll shoot 18 arrows into them at that distance (3 ends of 6). I’ll also shoot the same count of arrows per target from 20 to 60 yards at 5-yard increments. That amounts to a lot of walking. Which isn’t bad, except I’ve run and ridden, so my the time the sun has set I’ve got a lot of miles in my legs.

What I know is that my recovery isn’t the same as when I was 25. Then, I’d ride 60 miles in the morning and 80 in the afternoon. Some days we’d do 200 miles. In one ultra-distance race I rode 406 miles in a day. After that race, I drove home from Davenport, Iowa to Kennesaw, GA – non-stop. Those days are behind me.

Today, I appreciate rest. I’ll take one day and do very little physical activity. Honestly, it is mentally hard to take a break, but I listen to my body. Thursday was that day.

When my body says, “stop” I pay attention. My former cycling coach, a Belgian, Nestor Gernay, used to say, “Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down.” Believe me I listened and haven’t forgotten.


Since Sunday (Thursday when I wrote this), I’ve run 4 days, biked 4 days and shot twice per day. It breaks down like this: 4 hours running, 12 hours riding, and 20 hours shooting.   I have a race on Saturday and a tournament on Sunday. Thursday was a rest day I needed – even if I felt a little guilty.

Getting in a bike / run brick

The temperature here had cooled down a bit with a high of only 58° F. The wind wasn’t too bad at 9 mph. Those where the conditions as I headed out for a bike ride. So, I’d have a nice tailwind and not too tough of a headwind.


After the ride River and I took off for a run. The combination of a ride and an immediate run is called a “brick”.

This brick felt great. I didn’t push the ride or the run. Both felt calm and relaxing. There was plenty of daylight left so I could have shot. But, my shoulders needed the recovery and I resisted the temptation to shoot.

Another New Week

On Monday, following a competition, I reset my week in preparation for the next event. By starting early, I have less wind to content with during morning archery practice. My second session in the afternoon is almost always windy. That is also the time I train on my bike where I look forward to the tailwinds.

Getting out of bed early has its rewards

Winter is slowly giving way to spring and yesterday was a warm 70° F (21°C). My upcoming archery events are all 3D and practice during the calm morning was excellent. Because I’d ramped up to a shoot on Sunday, I only practiced an hour for each Monday session to promote active recovery. Wednesday is my long day where I’ll spend 5-6 hours shooting before tapering for the next event.

Three good at 50 yards – I’ll take these any day.

I don’t simply go out and shoot for same set amount of time on every day. Neither do I shoot a set amount of arrows. I have light days and heavy days. I’ve set up my archery training similar to how I’d set up a race-training plan. The archery plan includes other fitness activities.

This 1997 LiteSpeed remains my favorite road bike

The main non-archery fitness activity on Monday was a moderate bike ride with a few harder efforts. I didn’t get on the LiteSpeed until 4:30 PM and it was windy. Wanting to enjoy a moderate to fast effort I rode into the wind until my turn around at 15 miles. The ride was 15 miles of windy work followed by 15 miles of pure exhilaration pushing my biggest gears. The ride home was 12 minutes faster than the ride out to give some idea of the resistance I faced cycling out followed by the push during the return.

My afternoon archery session had been strictly for amusement. The wind blowing off the river meant shooting any other way than for entertainment would be a frustrating endeavor. I have one 3D target in the yard and I shot it from all sorts of distances and angles. My wife watching me shoot my foam deer at 40 yards challenged me to, “Shoot it in the eye.” The challenge was irresistible. I hit it about a centimeter high on the nose and nearly lost an arrow. I’ll ‘probably’ not try that a second time. But, it was fun.


Recalling Mondays when working the medical profession I recognize how my effort during that career paid off. Today, I work at archery and sports with the same determination and enjoyment. I’ve never dreaded Mondays. Monday is the day to reset and begin fresh.


General Training

I’ve mentioned that I ride a bike, run and swim. I do one or more of these activities as part of my training 5 days a week. Archery is practiced 6 days a week, including a day where I compete. I reserve one day for rest and recovery.

Rest is important

Exercising to stay in shape and promote health is a daily endeavor for me. I doubt I’ll race as often in the future as I did in the past. I’ll try to complete 5 to 10 races a year, which is plenty. These days, I race for the t-shirt. I’m frequently in the top 3 finishers in my age group and ahead of most in the overall. For, me at 60 years old, racing is more about the fun than the finish time. Archery is where I get my competitive fix. Archery isn’t as age dependent as many other sports.

Race bibs and 3rd place medal from a few weeks ago

In archery I train five days a week and compete on the sixth day. I leave one day for recovery. On many days I shoot, then either run, ride, swim, or a combination of those activities.

View along one of my training rides

Often, I run in the morning, then shoot, take a break, shoot some more then go for a bike ride. The result is I am outside a lot and stay in pretty good shape. Also being outside (versus sitting around indoors) and staying fit can help longevity in archery.

If you haven’t added a supplemental form of exercise to your archery training, give some consideration to incorporating a fitness program. In the long term you’ll be glad you did.

Chilly run and shoot

It was another chilly morning here on the eastern shore of North Carolina. Hitting the road to run it was 15°F (-9°C). Today the weather was better than yesterday, not so much because of a warming trend, but the wind wasn’t nearly as bad.

The forecast is for a bit of snow beginning after lunch. We’re anticipating 1-3 inches. Properly dressed, cold can be dealt with and a lack of winter wind meant I’d shoot before the snowfall.

Dressed in my running attire I didn’t bother IMG_3124changing, really there wasn’t any point is changing clothes. The running gear had served me well for several miles and perhaps it would remain loyal against the cold.

Despite the heat hugging efforts of the winter run apparel I headed inside after only a couple of hours. The time outside included the hour spent running and hour shooting. The slower pace of archery helped me cool down from the run, which really wasn’t help. Once I’d cooled down cold soon followed and I was inside enjoying heat as only fossil fuel can produce.

Training Cold Hold

The morning plan was a short 40-minute run then archery practice on a 3-spot. This is a light week on my training schedule. One look outside and confirmation of the temperature altered the plan.

Light snow in eastern NC

A native Savannahian, and despite having lived and worked in very cold places, cold still hurts. While living in Cleveland I ran and rode my bike year round. I did the same in Pittsburgh. In prior years I’ve run during the coldest months in Boston, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Uppsala, Sweden. I’ve headed out for a snowy run in Nagano, Japan, Alta, Utah and ran the Tokyo Marathon is freezing rain. But, I’ve never really enjoyed the cold. As a matter of fact, I don’t like cold.

Wind on the Albemarle Sound kicking up white caps

There are a lot of folks that seem to enjoy cold and snow. Great for them. Exclude me from that crowd. When I looked at the temperature and the white caps from wind blowing across the Sound I made a deep-rooted Southern blooded decision and didn’t head out for a run. Shooting can wait until it warms up.

My arctic loving brethren scoff at 19°F (-7°C) and laugh at gale force winter wind. The light dusting of snow across the Tar Heel State is a joke to the Patriots of Boston. My Viking friends consider the current weather here in North Carolina excellent for short pants and t-shirts. Well, all I can say is, “Bless their hearts.”

Nope, not for me anymore.

Living as far away as I do from an indoor gym means no easy access to a treadmill. It also means there is no indoor range on which to practice archery. Days like this become recovery days and I amend my training programs. I, also, look ahead to the continued cold in the forecast and make plans to temporarily move further South. I’ll be back in Georgia in just a few days to face a wintery warmth of 68°F (20°C).

December on the Big Island of Hawaii. Works for me.


Sunday afternoon boating and practice

Our skiff in wait

This afternoon before I shot, we took a cruise in our Carolina Skiff. The temperature had reached 65°F (18°C) and it was too nice a day not to take a boat ride. We’d be back in plenty of time for me to waste another arrow.

Cruising Little River we can reach the Albemarle Sound or head west to explore swampy waterways. The wind was going to be a factor on the Sound so we took the boat into the tree-lined creeks.

Swamp cruising

Along the way we passed more boaters than we’ve ever seen on the water here. Quite than a few people, three boats (a lot for us – this is a very quiet river), took time to enjoy the weather, get on the water, and fish. We didn’t fish; we’d only wanted to enjoy the scenery.

When we returned I gathered my archery gear for the afternoon’s practice. I’d finished the morning shooting at 40 yards. Starting my afternoon practice at 20 yards, I discovered, again, I’d not adjusted my sight and sent another arrow into a leaf-covered abyss. On this occasion it didn’t take two shots to figure out my mistake.

Behind this target lies three arrows, all lost by shooting at 20 yards when sighted for 40. I have nearly learned my lesson

It was great to get out on the water and despite wasting an arrow by the afternoon the wind had decreased and practice was good.

Sunday morning workouts

Sunrise before running

The weather here in North Carolina is warming up for a few days. It will turn cold again, but spring is just around the corner. My morning began early with a run and then archery practice. The warmth was great for running, but there was a bit of wind to frustrate me while shooting.

The run was wonderful with temperatures in the mid 40’s. River, my canine running partner, remained committed to sprinting through standing water and filled ditches that remain topped up because of the recent rains. We did pause while I tried to photograph swans in their flying pattern as they passed above us.

iPhone cameras have their limits

After running I shot for an hour then stopped when the wind became too much. I suppose the rapid warming of the air has brought with it the wind. Still, it wasn’t a bad morning for running and shooting.

Working on 3-spots