Finish Line™ Story: Dylan Schuddinh
SPORT was everything to Dylan Schuddinh growing up in a tiny provincial town in the north of South Africa.
It helped that his father Michael was just as active, a physical education teacher, swimming coach and regular companion on 5km runs the pair enjoyed together.
“I’ve been involved in sports since I was a young child,” Dylan, now 32, says. “Cricket was my number one, I got quite good at tennis and swimming, my father was my coach, and I played rugby.”
In Dylan’s final year at school it wasn’t his lack of size that drove him away from the rugby field, he had to give it away due to painful shin splints – medial tibial stress syndrome – which had developed into an ongoing and debilitating issue.
In fact, he had to give up more than just rugby as any period of sustained running-based training led to long periods of lower leg pain affecting all his sporting pursuits, except swimming.
“Even in high school I’d get shin splints,” he said.
“I could train for a few weeks and then the shin splints would get so bad I’d have to stop running.
“And that’s been my situation ever since.”
Dylan reluctantly waved the white flag, accepting that this would most likely put an end to any serious forays back into competitive sport, and a number of failed attempts to get back into running only served to reinforce his fears.
“I’d run for a few weeks and think things would be going well and then the shin splints would get bad and I’d only run every two weeks or so if I was lucky,” he said.
But Dylan is now running regularly, and he puts that down to two things.
Firstly, he is determined to once again run with his sporting mentor, his father, who at 65 is an accomplished triathlete competing over all distances up to ironman races.
But from Dylan’s perspective it is now more a case of wanting to run for his father, rather than purely with his father.
Michael suffers from retinitis pigmentosa which is a hereditary, degenerative eye disease which is slowly stealing his sight.
He can no longer compete on his own, requiring a guide to safely negotiate the swim, cycle and running courses. Dylan wants to be that guide.
Secondly, Dylan sought out POGO physiotherapist Brad Beer to investigate whether there could be a solution to his shin splints issue.
“I started working with Brad and my goal has been to be able to run 5km twice a week,” Dylan said. “For me that was an incredibly ambitious goal.
“Brad said to me ‘you’re a 32-year-old healthy young man and that is absolutely realistic and we’ll get you there’.
“It was the first time I’d thought to myself that there’s a real chance we can do this and get over it.”
Dylan started with Brad around March this year and decided his best option was a Wellness Booster package which, among its benefits, gave him unlimited access to the AlterG anti-gravity running treadmill.
“This a lifelong problem that I’ve had and for me it wasn’t about going to the physio and him saying just do this and that and you’re fixed,” Dylan said. “I had a long-term goal and I wanted to find a long-term solution.
“The Wellness Booster was the right plan to have that continual access to the AlterG and Brad as much as I needed. I’m in it for the long haul and I needed something to suit my approach.
“It just made sense for me.
“My legs aren’t perfect yet, but I don’t get shin splints any more just a few other little aches and pains … just getting used to being a runner I guess.”
Dylan slightly altered his running style and very gradually has been increasing the distances. Sticking to the program has been key to the strength and conditioning process and healthy dose patience.
Those inevitable aches and pains, which in the past have been the first indication of a more sinister problem, have been a difficult mental hurdle to push past.
“I’ve tried many times to get over shin splints but never really knowing if what I was doing was right. I always think ‘this is it’ having run three or four times and feeling fine, and then the shin splints start coming back,” Dylan said.
“You start to think ‘what’s the point’?
“My legs kind of got a bit sore here and there in different places but Brad assessed my legs and said ‘this isn’t shin splints that you are experiencing. This is fine and you should be fine to keep working. Be confident this is just part of the process’.
“I’ve been down this road so many times as soon as I feel some pain I think I have to stop before I do any real damage.
“I remember Brad saying to me ‘I’m confident in my diagnosis, and what’s been happening to you and what we need to do’.
“But I’ve always had that uncertainly because it’s never been figured out before. But Brad was very clear ‘I’ve done this before, I know what I’m doing’.
“I’m running 5km three times a week and I’m going pretty quick. I’m not nursing myself, I’m trying to go as quick as I can (sub 4km/minute).”
A mid-September date for Dylan and Michael to compete in a triathlon together for the first time was delayed after Michael had cataracts dealt with and now the pair have set a new race date later in the year.
That will be a closer to the highly anticipated arrival in early December of Dylan and wife Fe’s first child – a boy.
“I’d like to be able to run with him and make sure he’s active, just like my father ran with me,” Dylan says. “That’s a bond I shared with my father and one I hope to share with my son, that would be great.”
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