One month ago I completed my last workout before surgery. It was a trainer ride in the garage. As always, I worked up a reasonable sweat and showered afterwards. In fact, prior to surgery most days involved at least two showers and sometimes three depending on how much training I was packing in to a day. Running and triathlon may be healthy endeavors but they are not necessarily environmentally friendly when one considers water usage for showering and laundry.
Since surgery, I have done nothing other than rehab assignments and trying to remember to shower once in a while.
While I was still stitched and taped together, a shower was a bit of a monumental effort involving a lot of help from my wife and and interesting crutch dance to get in and out of the tub. When I was first allowed to shower after surgery, I thought I had it all figured out. I came up with a plan to shower at the gym where the
facilities are handicap accessible. I thought “Perfect. I can walk in and use the bars and seat and it will be much easier”. Thankfully before I did this I remembered I wasn’t able to put pants on by myself. I’d have really found out who my friends at the gym are if that thought hadn’t occurred before it was too late.
Happily, that phase didn’t last long and within a couple weeks I was able to shower pretty independently. Otherwise it’s just a matter of remembering to do so once in a while since I’m not getting all sweaty from a workout.
It has been four weeks since surgery. Physical therapy has been going very well with Vanessa Bowers, my rock star therapist. I’ve had one follow-up with the surgeons and got an A+. The only setback thus far was after I ditched the last crutch I got a little ambitious and decided to slip out behind my buddy Joe’s house to hunt with a borrowed crossbow. It was cold and the ground a little uneven. I climbed up in a ladder stand and then walked a short distance in the woods afterwards. The end result was that I was pretty sore the rest of the weekend. Clearly too much too soon. I backed off on Sunday and enjoyed a napping PR (personal record) Sunday afternoon.
It will still be a few weeks before I can get back at the whole running thing, or any other sort of real workout. I’m signed up for 0 races so there is no timetable for a return. The only obstacle is my growing belly and unabated appetite. I need to get the food demons under control. Of course it’s the perfect time of year to not be exercising what with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the holidays and a nearly constant barrage of candy and food from all directions.
One of my concerns and really the concern of any runner when dealing with injury, is the loss of fitness and motivation from time off. “They” say it takes two weeks to lose fitness. That means, for me it’s gone.
This is the first time in 7 years that I’ve taken time off completely from any sort of exercise. I’ve dealt with a number of injuries in that time but was always able to bike, pool run, swim or at least continue a weight routine. This is the first time that my “workout” has consisted of turning the pedals on a spin bike for 30 minutes (or less) at a ridiculously low resistance level. I also have a fairly lengthy daily PT routine but it isn’t a big calorie burner nor is it supposed to be.
To try to combat future non-motivation, I’m doing my best to keep my schedule. I go to bed early which isn’t hard given the imbecilic quality of television programming and I get up well before the chickens. It’s been this way for a long time but I am typically off on a run, bike, or swim early in the morning. Instead, I’ve been using this time to go to the gym to complete PT. I could certainly do the exercises at home but feel using the gym still gives me some semblance of a normal routine. Thus I hope to keep some momentum until I am allowed to do something more vigorous.
How am I feeling? Overall, pretty good. I still have some soreness around the left hip depending on activity and movement. This is where most of the work was done. Vanessa and I keep working on this and hopefully with continued therapy and patience that goes away soon. It will be a few more weeks before I am allowed to run though I think I can start using the pool soon. I can tell that the constant, dull ache in my groin is gone. In fact, I could tell that within a day or two of surgery. I can drive a car without constant fidgeting and discomfort.
I am delighted to be off crutches and out of the brace. I found myself explaining in detail exactly what happened repeatedly to the smug “You’ll ruin your knees” crowd who were convinced I had knee surgery due to too much running. The flip side, of course, is to endure the sideways, condescending glances at the gym as I wait for the elevator instead of taking the steps. The reason for this was more evident with the crutches and brace. I just let my rational mind and internal voice tell them to mind their own business. However my ego begs to always wear finisher’s apparel from some epic event to offset these insecurities and remind myself and others what I am capable of.
Well, I have to wrap this up. The gym opens at 5:00. Time to don a Boston Marathon shirt and go hang out with the meat heads and cross-fitters while I lay on the mat doing almost nothing.