11 Weeks Post-op, or Halfway to Running

Things have been busy in life lately, mostly thanks to school, so I’m a little sidetracked. Never fear, rehab is going well, and I called my surgeon’s office after the 10 week mark to let them know. Sometimes there is joint stiffness when it’s cold (welcome to old age), and for a few days after introducing new activities (like weighted calf presses) it’ll be sore. But nearly three months out and halfway to running, I can confidently declare that this has been a huge success and feels great.

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It’s been so long since my last post we entered a whole new season during October. 

I learned that I am cleared to elliptical, and probably could’ve been doing it already, but what’s the rush? I figured I would need like 12 weeks, but they claim it’s as low-impact as biking. I actually did 8 minutes of it today at PT with the BFR cuffs, and if I can make it through that, I can definitely add it into my routine. I did not make it through pushing a sled. I almost threw up and had to take an emergency apple juice home with me.

My PT told me today he doesn’t think much further work is needed currently, but I’ve got three more sessions scheduled so I’ll keep going to those. I know, my balancing skills are just too impressive. What can I say. But actually this is the strongest I’ve ever felt as far as core stability is concerned. Three more months to really max that out! On nice days when I pass my favorite alleys in town I get an overwhelming urge to take off and run to my heart’s desire. Soon. Soon.

So my workout routines have basically been the same for two or three weeks since I last wrote, but here’s a general idea:

  • MON: 30-60 min bike, steady or w/ intervals, core, easy lift
  • TUE: 45 min aqua jog
  • WEDS: 30 min bike, option to add 30 min aqua jog, core
  • THUR: 45 min aqua jog, PT
  • FRI: 45-60 min bike, steady or w/ intervals, core, easy lift
  • SAT: 30-50 lap swim
  • SUN: off

I’ve been slowly phasing out the daily aqua jogging sessions in favor of doing prolonged pool days on Tuesdays and Thursdays when my buddies are there. Some days my anxiety is so bad that getting in a decent water run just isn’t possible. So I know I can make it 45 minutes when my friends are there, but otherwise I’d rather spend more time on the bike. I actually biked around town for the first time in months the other day, just because it was nice out and my pool day hadn’t gone well. You gotta do what you gotta do, ya know?

I’d like to get back to yoga. I think my stability and ROM can handle it at this point, so now I could really use it for the added benefits of flexibility and strength. I notice I tend to be less injured when I go to yoga regularly, but it’s hard to be consistent. I either wanna go four times a week or not at all. I did procure a Pilates pass from my absolute favorite instructor this week, so I’ll be adding private reformer classes for the next few weeks after I phase out PT, and I am PUMPED! This is gonna be a hell of a comeback. A baby comeback, but it’ll be strong as fuck.

That’s about all for now, but I will leave a decent dump of photos from a display case I installed recently for a design class. I ambitiously chose the topic “Women in Sports History,” and this is very near and dear to my heart so I really bit off more than I could chew, but I think it was worth it. Initially, the idea came from wanting to celebrate the iconic moments in running that have been happening lately, from Shalane and Desi winning major marathon titles to Courtney and Emma dominating the steeplechase. But then I kept thinking of more and more special moments, in other sports, and I realized this project was becoming bigger than I anticipated.

Part way through planning, I knew that it was important to me to recognize as many sports as possible, performed by as many women as possible from around the world. So I made sure to give attention to the women of color who dominate sport, as well as to women from non-Western areas who are making huge impacts in their native countries, often because it goes against their customs to participate. Obviously, there’s so much to unpack just at that level. But I’m really proud of how the installation came together, even though I panicked for three days straight, forgot to sleep and eat, and missed a workout or two.

Please enjoy the photos and let me know if you want more information or have additional insights to share.

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T-minus

It’s the home stretch, and I’m so excited. I am ready to get this over with, make it to the other side, and prepare for the long, slow return to running (maybe by like… 2019?). If you are faced with an unfathomably long break from running, you may be wondering what kinds of new hobbies could possibly be out there to compete for second fiddle. I know there is no way to completely fill the void, but in the last few weeks I have discovered a couple substitutes that work for me.

Gardening. I’ve been trying to makeover a previously neglected and overgrown yard since the early spring. I spent weeks raking, chopping down tree shoots, and digging up grass in order to make way for flower and vegetable beds. Some tasks are a decent workout, even if tedious, but runners who know the benefits of getting the small things done will find a lot of satisfaction in the end result.

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Biking. Though I had to part ways with it eventually due to pain, it’s still the next most enjoyable form of exercise to me. Find routes that are challenging, and your runner brain will love the endorphins. It’s also a great way to revisit running routes that you are sorely missing, and feel some wind in your face. Bike while running errands or commuting to work to sneak in extra cardio throughout the day.

House therapy. Ok, I’m not, like, some HGTV maniac. But a year ago I refinished my dining room table and chairs, and after that I was kinda hooked on home improvement. This spring, I have also done things like paint my entire house, install new light fixtures, and replace cabinet hardware. Stuff like this can be tough to fit in when you’re spending your free time running and recovering from running. Let those creative juices flow and challenge yourself to learn a new trade.

Hitting the gym. I’m more of an out-the-door runner, and in case you missed my last post, I hate the gym. But being injured makes a strong case for going. I used the elliptical until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and currently I’ve been acquainting myself with the pool. I also started lifting weights again. There are group classes to take advantage of, like pilates, which is a fun way to sneak in your PT work without even noticing. Yoga and barre offer core and muscle conditioning that can aid the return to (or continuation of) running. Find alternatives that work for you. A sweat is a sweat.

Reading. By far my healthiest sedentary habit. I’ve been tackling a list of “feminist” reads that I made up myself — it’s almost 100% stuff written by women of color, LGBT women, or women suffering from mental illnesses — sometimes these categories overlap. We’ve all read the “traditional” bullshit they feed you in high school and college. Patriarchal garbage IMO. I’ve enjoyed all of these books so much more. Don’t forget to exercise your mind.

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I have a lot of gratitude going into surgery. It’s a relief, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to consider it as an option. It’s also given me a new perspective on time away from running, and with that the realization that life goes on, that the absence of running is tough, but not impossible, to endure. This is a time to heal, to reflect, to set new goals, to remember not to take running for granted when I get the opportunity to return. The next few weeks are somewhat unchartered territory, and a few of my newfound hobbies will be impossible to stick with while I’m recuperating. Gonna have to learn some couch hobbies. That’s why I haven’t started the new season of Orange is the New Black yet — you gotta give yourself an automatic win sometimes. But there will be PT appointments, and small sprinklings of normalcy that return slowly as I make improvements. I’m optimistic, and one day all of this will be a thing of the past.