Training updates and eye problems

Training updates and eye problems

Gee,  I can’t remember the last time I wrote an update about my training! To be honest, I’ve modified my training a little bit recently and it’s not terribly exciting. Also, I haven’t wanted to freak anyone out with the reason as to why I’ve done so.

About six weeks ago, I started having some problems with my eye again. As some of you might know, I have to be very careful with lifting heavy because of my retinal detachment. Technically, I shouldn’t be powerlifting at all, but I’ve never had any serious problems – even in competition.

That doesn’t mean that my eye is completely fine, or is not something that I think about every single day, multiple times a day. My risk of suffering another detachment is high and I know I’m engaging in risky behaviour by lifting weights. I have lost about 40 per cent of the field of vision in my left eye, and I experience a lot of floaters and my eye droops slightly when I’m tired.

When I am in the gym, these symptoms intensify – particularly if I’m doing heavy squatting or bench pressing, or any really high rep/burnout work. When I take a week off the gym, I notice my vision improves and my eye feels less fatigued. The deterioration I experience when lifting seems to only be temporary; therefore, it hasn’t discouraged me from lifting. 

But, as I said, I started experiencing some problems about six weeks ago. Although nothing serious happened and I did not do anything super intense that would have triggered a redetachment, I started to notice that the symptoms I usually experienced at the end of the day were present all the time.


This coincided with a period of great stress and general feeling of tiredness. I was under a super tight deadline, to write an entire book in only 21 days, while still keeping up with all of my other work, study and social commitments. During those three weeks, I was punching in 90 to 100 hours of work per week, and still going to the gym four times a week (albeit for shorter workouts!) while maintaining some kind of social life.

Needless to say, I wasn’t sleeping very much (I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve gone to bed before 4am) and my stress levels were pretty high. That, combined with spending a lot of time on the computer and doing some other things in my spare time that I’ve recently learned are bad for my condition, strained my eyes big time.

While I was worried about my eye, I stuck to bodybuilder-type workouts, with lots of isolation exercises and medium to high reps. I stayed away from supersets and circuits, and I didn’t do any of the main lifts for six weeks. There were even a couple of workouts I quit mid-way through because I was concerned about my eye. And while everything seems to be fine now, at the time it was pretty scary.

I waited until I had submitted my book and felt completely stress-free before I even thought about training properly again. But then I was struck down by a horrible virus that made me a slave to my bed and spew bucket for four days straight. I’m finally better as of this Tuesday and was actually able to return to the gym for a proper workout yesterday. It was my first time squatting with a barbell in five weeks!

I don’t see any major stressors on the horizon, so I think I will recommence a normal powerlifting program again. I feel pretty weak, however, so I may have to revise my “maxes” downwards significantly! I have an intense month of travel planned for December, where I won’t have gym access for at least half of that time. Alas, the sacrifices that I make to see the world!

One final note about my eye is that I recently found out I will receive absolutely zero compensation from my accident (after initially being quoted £20-60k!). My lawyer has been preparing my case for 3.5 years now, but it will sadly not go to court as the driver of the van that hit me is claiming that I rode into the back of them. The idea of this in itself is utterly ridiculous: it’s not like I was a four-year-old on the road for the first time! Because I lost my memory and stupidly, stupidly, stupidly threw away my bike, which showed that all the damage was to the back of the bike (thereby making their claim impossible), I am shit out of luck. It’s their word against mine and I have no proof.

The problems I experience with my eye on a daily basis are my number one cause of anxiety. Obviously, I would have rather that the accident had never happened at all, but getting some money out of the whole nightmare would have helped. Most of all, I am really disgusted that the driver has walked away scot-free! I also shudder to think about all the hours I’ve wasted at the 20+ appointments I’ve had for this case. I will seek the opinion of another lawyer, but I’m not holding my breath.

So, that’s my life and training in a nutshell! Tell me: what are you doing with your training these days?

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