Tag Archives: recovery

The Next Four Minutes

At what point does a comeback just evolve back into life?

I was running on the treadmill yesterday- doing my four minute run interval absolutely overwhelmed with excitement at the idea of my four minute run interval- wondering to myself at what point my comeback morphs into the daily grind of a gym goer.

Every day of work that I put in feels like another brick and mortar of recovery and it motivates me to keep pushing further from the day I caught my leg in my pants, fell down, and couldn’t get up. Maybe I am back to regular workout status once people stop interrupting my workouts to ask me, “How is your (enter any mixture of injured body parts here)?”

Now that I am running again (on a treadmill, for four minutes at a time) I am in a permanent state of runner’s high. My body was in withdrawal for almost two years, and now that I have had a reminder of how it feels, I’m in a constant state of awaiting my next four minutes.

Maybe we would all benefit from the comeback mindset. The mental setting that we have much progress ahead of us, and each step forward is a milestone worth telling the world about. Every time we finish a workout there is a crowded arena screaming our name. Every time we lift heavier, our name is in the paper for setting new records. And every single rep we complete, we can remind ourselves, “I couldn’t do this before”.

With the mental, physical, real, and imagined highs of the comeback journey, there must be the moments that bring our feet and faces back down to the ground; the universe giving us a friendly reminder that we aren’t as invincible as we briefly consider ourselves to be. Considering yourself to be in a “safe” place usually means that your face is about to hit the ground, so maybe embracing the comeback status is protective.

As long as progress continues, combined with the awareness there is much ground to cover, I suppose it doesn’t need any label other than that.

 

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Born to be Mild

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
              -Leonard Cohen

My body has days that make me feel like I was made for a desk job and upper body hobbies. Followed by many rum and cokes.

When a homeless man stops you to say “you are beautiful just the way you are”, it really implies you look terrible and nobody loves you. I had already taken out my rage on all my clients so (luckily for him) I just gimped on by. It was awkward like when you have cruise control on and you pass a car going 1km an hour faster than them and it takes an uncomfortably long eye contact to get by. Just your casual social discomfort being a happy Torontonian.

Despite my body telling me to slow down sometimes, I resist the urge to feel like I was destined for early entry into the inevitable world of grunting sounds every time you stand up. It is a slippery slope from the time you make your own involuntary sound effects.

On the plus side, I had someone tell me in the gym that I should go to a vet now because I work out like an animal. I won’t lie, that made me immediately feel better. I have no problems in the world when someone compliments my workouts. It may as well be a big high five from Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am redefining blood, sweat, and tears, baby- tear referring to my torn body parts of course and not tears in my eyes.

I have been working away on upper body now and I feel like a wannabe bodybuilder who builds their biceps, ignores their legs, and ends up with a weirdly disproportionate body. I have been struggling with my post-surgery shoulder however I’ll chalk that up to pressure changes and I absolutely won’t complain about the heat. I spent so much time preparing my clients for a beach season that I was starting to think wasn’t coming.

So what is next? … defying the mild and embracing the wild hopefully.

progress

 

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It Is What It Isn’t

On Monday I was missing a ligament in my knee, but depending who you ask, it is there today.

I’m not a doctor.

Friday afternoon, just hours after my MRI, I felt something tear in my knee. It was so weird, like being flicked against the inside of your skin instead of the outside. Complete with a snap, crackle, and pop.

So on Monday the doctor told me that I dislocated my kneecap and tore the ligament that primarily stabilizes the kneecap in its tracking. The solution could be rehab or surgery and that was to be determined after seeing the MRI. I thought the imaging would have been deemed useless since the tear conveniently occurred after it, however I was assured it was still relevant. So I figured they would see a ligament on the verge of tearing.

I’m not a doctor.

So I get the phone call that the ligament in question is indeed attached. So naturally I was confused how it reattached itself in a few short days. I am always impressed with the human body but this would be a whole new level of science. When the doctor was holding my knee in his hands and testing it, he said there was no ligament so I took this opportunity to casually remind the doctor that the popping happened after the MRI. In return, I was told “I highly doubt it was torn”.

Later that afternoon at work, someone who treated me many times after the car accident was in the gym working out. He kindly let me interrupt his workout to casually ask him if he could find my medial patellofemoral ligament. He concluded the left knee didn’t have one.

I slunk back to the first doctor to request another MRI. He doesn’t even seem phased when he sees me in his waiting room anymore. I have to have set a new record for MRI requests in a ten day span.

Part of me hopes that it is torn so that I can save myself the embarrassment of getting a second MRI for no reason. But at the same time, I realise how ridiculous that is. What is one more blow to my ego, anyways.

I do know something is wrong, but that is all I know.

I’m not a doctor.

mpfl

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The Knee Bone’s Connected to the…?

On Friday I cried and I can’t even convince myself it was more pain than frustration. It was the type of day that made me want to stamp my feet and then curl up in the fetal position. Nothing that a rum and coke and then laying face down for hours can’t fix.

My MRI was at 1am in the morning. Luckily riding the subway in the wee hours of the morning on a weekday keeps you awake and alert. I arrived to the maze of empty halls and dragged my bum leg to the imaging department. I was really early because I was plagued with the fear of having to pay the $100 late fee. That is a lot of money that could be put towards my recovery (rum and cokes). But if my mom is reading, I meant to say, paying you back!

After blissfully enjoying my half hour laying completely still listening to loud banging and rattling I went to change out of my size extra large robe. I started talking to a man who would have been a little older than my dad. His wife has dementia and was there getting an MRI on her brain.

I wish it was easier to keep things in perspective without having to see someone else in a bad situation.

So after a few hours of sleep I headed to work and rolled in nice and late after the subway broke down and who knew that another hundred people would need a cab at 8:30am on a weekday.

Once my break rolled around I decided to do an upper body workout. I warmed up, got ready to go and headed off to find a bench. I went to sit down and heard a loud pop as I felt a snap in my knee. Awesome. 12 hours after my MRI. So close.

flamingoknee

My weekend was extremely sloth like and I ventured out once for a few groceries. Seeing the doctor tomorrow and hoping for a miraculous sleep induced recovery!

Tomorrow also starts a week of upper body workouts! Let’s get half jacked!!!

kneebone

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Shoulder

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
           -William Shakespeare

I spent my one year surgery anniversary knocking back rum and cokes, plowing through chocolate eggs, and not exercising. So far off the rails it pains me to put it into print.

All these comebacks sure are tiring. I won’t let health go unappreciated again.

This has been a week of resetting, refocusing, and pushing back. I should be prepping for a 5k race that is four days away and somehow I have ended up exhausting the exercise database in my brain for ways to avoid getting fat. Today a trainer smacked my leg to tell me to activate the muscles to which I stopped and screamed, “Stop jiggling my fat!!!”

Each workout since the infamous doctor-says-no-lower-body-exercise fiasco of three weeks ago increases in creativity. I’ve said this before, but I think it needs to be restated: my clients do not get hurt, I give great advice but I don’t take it. The other trainers just laugh when I walk by carrying a 10lb body bar saying, “This counts as body weight, right?”… People pay me to push them, and this gets difficult to turn off, I guess.

Today I did the Stair Master, single leg Romanian dead lifts (10lbs what up!), single leg hip bridges, and modified knee extensions. My knee felt tired but not painful, so I did some Peterson step ups but three later, I had to stop. It felt like I had just pogo-sticked up Kilimanjaro on one leg. The best part of it all was that a celebrity’s bodyguard was beside me bench pressing about twice his body weight and I was working substantially harder. I tried to play it cool but the sweat stains and muffled crying sounds probably blew my cover.

As with all situations, there is a silver lining. Each time your feet are taken out from under you, the world is opening a door of opportunity to rebuild your physical and mental strength, and develop consistency, resilience, and pride. In my case it was technically only one leg that went out from under me, but my point remains. I would rather be hurt from exercise than develop issues from being sedentary, a hundred times over. Injuries allow us to learn so much about ourselves, and offer us the chance to improve in much more than just a physical way. We can all admit that starting anything is easier with a kick in the butt.

Sure, some things haven’t gone the way I had them playing out in my head. I did, however, spend my one year surgery anniversary surrounded by friends and family, laughing loud and eating well. Compared to a year ago, my shoulder is significantly better, my overall health is definitely better, and I have lots of zig-zagged footsteps behind me. Maybe I need to think less about how I thought things would be and focus on all the greatness that is now.

I can hardly wait to work up a sweat again tomorrow.

(Throwback to my shoulder a year ago…)

shoulder

 

 

 

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No Squats & No Trots

I can’t lie, it is hard to watch people run by me in shorts and tank tops. They are all rubbing in my face that I can’t run right now. How rude.

This week I saw a doctor who thinks I have damaged the cartilage and meniscus in my left knee. The last time I saw him, I had just been hit by a car. Looking over my file he didn’t seem surprised to see me again. He prodded and poked around then he sent me on my way after requesting an MRI.

So after having every fun exercise eliminated from my temporary repertoire, I nestled in on the stationary bike for a thrilling resistance- free ride. My doctor told me only about a hundred times: no squats.

Maybe he reads my blog.

Cardio equipment at the gym has the same etiquette as using a public washroom. Am I wrong?!

So here I am, biking in slow motion watching the Raptors game on the TV, listening to my iPod, and occasionally texting on my phone. Yes you heard me right; my workout was actually that uninvolved. Calling it a workout is quite generous since it was a sweat free 45 minutes. Anyways, I am in a row of 12 bikes, all of which are available. There are two more rows of cardio equipment behind me and everything is empty.

So a woman comes over and sits down right beside me. Then she doesn’t turn on her TV and watches mine. Then she reads what I text and mimics me every time I move.

Why do people do this?! Am I just crazy about my personal space?? Actually don’t answer that. But really. I bet she is the person who sits beside you on the subway and leans in to read your paper instead of her own. And I bet she would use the bathroom stall right next to you.

On another note, I think I should formally do a study on the (predicted) correlation between how increased physically injury drastically impairs patience and social skills.

My apologies to those how get in my gimpy way.

deadfall

 

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Push It Real Good

Today I celebrated my quarter life crisis, I mean, my birthday.

Turning 26 is officially entering the darkness of the second half of my 20’s and saying goodbye to the times when stupid decisions are much more socially acceptable.

For my birthday this year I am giving myself the gift of pushups. When I came out of shoulder surgery 8 months ago, my surgeon told me I wouldn’t be able to do pushups again because I had lost so much structurally. In my post-surgery daze of anesthetic and disorientation, I cried. I whimpered to my parents as if this exercise was the love of my life and couldn’t live without it. After sobering up I went through a “I have an excuse to never do pushups again” phase and thought I would enjoy my justified laziness.

However, due to my innate human tendencies, if you tell me I can’t do something then I am overpowered by desire to conquer it. I remember doing pushups against the wall for the first time months ago while D was trying to politely tell me how terrible my form was. It was like glorified leaning on the wall and I felt like the Hulk.

Slowly but surely, I worked down to the ground through various stages of incline pushups and to the terror of my friends, I announced I was ready for the real deal. Their faces all said “this will be a train wreck” so we were all pleasantly surprised when I eeked out 3 in a row.

I then ran through the bodybuilders as I screamed “Shoulder champion of the world!!!”

Some days you have to choose brains or brawn.

hulk_comic_book_wallpaper_01

 

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Mountain Climber

My workouts are really coming together. I’m less obviously holding up other people, I get less “what is that girl doing?” looks, and dare I say that in the right lighting- I have some muscular definition.

It seems like things always get worse before they get better. We have to break things down before we can rebuild them and that is never an easy or stress-free process. It is the crucial first step to the process, nevertheless. If we put ourselves through a struggle to get what we want then the reward is always worth it.

This time last year, I hated the way my body looked and I hated that I couldn’t control what was happening to it. I hated that I never felt good about myself and the painkillers made that even harder to deal with. It was hard to train clients who were more mobile, stronger, and more motivated than I was. To be honest, I got so low that I set myself up for an even bigger comeback, which allowed for many more small victories on the way. I am progressing, feeling strong, and I don’t have a limit on how far I will climb.

The last few days at work, the guys have commented on how I am louder, I dance around the gym (again), and even the way I dress is different. No more “basketball shorts” or “homeless man” outfits. Their words, not mine. Following these comments, I like to take the opportunity to flex my tiny arms and make them admit they see muscle. It is one thing to notice change in yourself, but to hear it from those you spend the most time with is a million times better. I hadn’t noticed that I neglected certain pieces of clothing or that I was sparing the workplace from my fantastic dance moves. I guess that is how you know you have a great support system though; they will make sure you see everything you missed.

I have been doing my research on triathlons, and I am finding what I got myself into. Yikes. I have so many questions but I am also really excited because this is far from any other competition I have voluntarily sought to compete in. When I told my family that I had been considering a triathlon, it brought back fond memories of dog paddling/ crying my way through a Learn to Swim class to get my Kinesiology degree. I’m not sure why I think this will be less terrifying but I will have to address one fear at a time. I will probably be more scared of getting back on my bike again, but I’ll save that topic for when it gets here. Once I clean off my helmet, get the SUV hood marks and road rash off my bike then I’ll probably just need a pep talk (or a hundred). This will get interesting.

So what next?!

Now that I’m starting to get the hang of climbing, I’ll need to start learning to swim.

cliffhanger_-630x342

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Gold and Goal

To celebrate my achievement of beating my goal time (by 28 seconds!) and my time from last weekend (by 51 seconds!) I decided to reward myself. So I tried.
Monday was supposed to be a day off from exercise and a guilt- free day to eat anything. One muffin later, my stomach told me to pick something else.
After I was done training for the day, D and K were starting their workouts. Like the good friends they are, they made sure to give me a really hard time about taking the day off. Other tips included “don’t eat cookies!” and “why are you going to bed so early!” which made it feel less like a day celebrating my victory. These guys come in handy when I feel lazy though, so I won’t complain.

So now I am looking ahead at what is next to come. It is too bad that I’m just getting started as racing season is wrapping up but I still have options. I can keep racing through the winter since apparently Mother Nature isn’t totally against me, or I can focus my efforts elsewhere. I have a lot of friends who train and compete in figure competitions so that has crossed my mind but my body is still working on basic level functioning. That would be like trying to take the whole flight of stairs at once.

The best part of making a comeback is passing the benchmark that you had set before.

I still remember my last workout before the car accident. It was the day before and I was feeling great. An easy run to the park, 100 lunges, 10 hill sprints, then I ran home at a 3:51/km pace. I will have to use that as a baseline to see just when I surpass my (old) self. But not yet. Anyways, I am thinking even further ahead than that.

Swimming in a race in a lake terrifies me; the thought of getting back on a bike makes me nervous; but I can absolutely run. So, next summer I will do my first triathlon.

With two attempts, I have achieved my first goal and now it is on to the next one! It is big, and it is challenging, and I am looking forward to every scary step of the way!

Cue the motivation saying!!!

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