The Comeback

It’s been a year since my knee was cut open for the second time in it’s life.  9 days after that, it was cut open for the third time. The past year has been a year of struggles and and rehab and finding my groove. It’s not been an easy year, but I’ve learned so much about myself this past year.

Photo Jul 24, 8 17 49 PM

I spent 10 weeks on crutches, 5 months in therapy, missed hundreds of miles of running in the past year. I gained strength in my legs and heart, found a new love for biking, and I’ve learned how to track my food and lose weight, even without regular exercise. I’ve appreciated every run I’ve been on, even the runs that ended in tears.

I still have some pain in my knee, but the pain is so much less than it was, and it’s a different pain. It’s mostly a pain of muscle and tendon tightness, not the nagging, grinding nerve pain I had previously. I know as I continue to lose weight and increase miles slowly, and keep building strength, the pain will lessen and I will settle in to a running routine that feels like me.

It’s been a rough year, but it’s also been a good year, since I had surgery 365 and 356 days ago. It’s been a year of healing. I’m ready for the next chapter. The year of building. The comeback.

Photo Jul 24, 8 32 40 PM

All you have to do is FLY

I’ve been running lately. But my running doesn’t look like it used to. Instead of doing a 4 miler after work like it’s no big deal, I struggle to get in 2 miles. Instead of going for a long run of 8-12 miles on the weekend, I do a run/walk ratio and barely get 6 miles. And I cry during my run because I’m not where I used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond happy to be running again since my surgery. AND I have no knee pain! I do have some hamstring and calf pain, but it’s muscular… the ACL screw removal surgery was successful. The surgery has eliminated the nerve pain caused by the screws from my ACL surgery 10 years ago.

But I have so many frustrations with my current state of running. I’m slower than I was before surgery. I am heavier than I was before surgery. My lungs don’t breathe as well as before surgery. My legs don’t turn over as quickly. My mind is second guessing everything and is weak. The list goes on and on. I cannot stop comparing my current fitness level and current running self to my previous running self.

I was never fast, not by any  means. But I was consistent with my running. I was confident that I could go out and run 5 miles with no problems. I was proud that I could complete a half marathon. Now, I feel like all of that is gone. It’s all lost. I can’t consistently run, and if I do, my muscles are sore. I’m not confident that I can go out and even run 1 or 2 miles without having to stop for one reason or another. I’ve signed up for a half marathon in 5 weeks and I’m terrified that I won’t be able to complete it, even with tons of walking.

I know I have a lot to be proud of. Just 3 months ago I was still in physical therapy 2 times a week, running with a therapist watching me in a highly controlled environment. 4 months ago I was running on an Alter G treadmill at a percentage of my body weight. 6 months ago I was still on crutches. 7 months ago, exactly, to this date, I had a second surgery in 9 days on my knee.

I know I have come a very long way in 7 months, but I cannot stop comparing myself to where I was before surgery. Sure, my knee hurt, but I could run. I had a base built up. I had 13 half marathons under my belt.  I know I will get back to that point, but right now it seems so very far away.

Last month, I finally had the courage and support to quit drinking pop. That was a bad habit… let me tell you. I’ve not had a pop since January 31, and I’ve actually weaned myself off caffeine too. Because I wanted to feel better. I wanted to not feel the addiction, the need for it. I would be lying if I said I also quit pop to help my running. So now that I haven’t had pop in 33 days, why can’t I run any better?

I feel like I’m moving along, and then the engines have been reversed, and I’m in that limbo where I’m not really moving forward, but not going the reverse direction yet either, I’m just spinning and spinning and not getting anywhere.

I am hoping with all my heart that I’ll start moving soon, that those propellers will start making momentum and I’ll begin moving. Moving in the right direction. That quitting pop will help my running. That my legs and lungs and heart and mind will start feeling stronger, like I know they can be. That running will start to feel like it used to, aside from the knee pain. And that I will be able to go out and run 5 miles any old day of the week, like I used to. That I can lose the weight I put on by doing nothing for several months, and start to feel lighter and faster.

I have the very best support team. My husband, family, and friends are unmatched in their support and encouragement. I know I can start making more progress with them.

I’m not quitting. In fact, the opposite is quite true.  I am far from quitting, but I am having a difficult time coming to terms that my running self is not the same running self of a year ago, or two years ago. And that’s okay. Progress is progress.  I just need to convince myself of that, and allow my own progress to happen.

Capture

2018 Running Goals

Don’t call it a comeback…

aa4630445641afda677b36657de0b840--marathon-motivation-life-motivation

You guys, I’VE BEEN RUNNING!

Over the past 2 months, I’ve graduated from physical therapy and continued on my therapy “return to running” plan. Just a couple weeks ago, I ran my very first nonstop mile post-surgery. It’s slow going, and not entirely pain free (my KNEE is pain free while running, it’s the hamstring and calf now that are sore while running, and then there’s a bit of residual knee pain after running).. but I’M RUNNING!

Photo Dec 27, 8 12 32 PM

These pictures were taken 6 days apart, in December. Tank tops to long sleeves.. only in Kansas!

I have a few goals for 2018. If you would compare these goals to previous years’ running goals, you’d scoff at how tiny these goals are, but if you look back at the year I’ve had in regards to my knee injury, surgery, and recovery, I’m so excited the roughest and toughest stuff is behind me, and I can RUN!  It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s disheartening how much fitness I lost over the past 8 months of barely running to not weight bearing at all after surgery, to slowly recovering back to where I am now. My last month of decent-ish mileage was May, and that month only had 50 or so miles in it!  2017 was extremely low in terms of mileage; I will end up with just about 300 miles for 2017, almost all of those miles happening January through May.  For comparison, I ran 1025 miles in 2016. 

2017 was a really rough year in terms of fitness and running for me. I have a lot of work to do, and I need to be kind to my body and be extra kind and thankful for my knee which is still mending.  But I’m not looking into the past, I’m looking forward!

In 2018, I hope to complete 2 half marathons, even if it is a walk/run. I hope to do 1 in the spring and 1 in the fall. Ideally, I will walk/run the spring and run the half in the fall, but right now, all options are open, and no races are on my schedule.  I have a couple races in mind, but I’m not signing up for anything until much closer. Right now, I’m on a running schedule with minutes, and strictly using a metronome to keep my cadence up. My return to running schedule currently does not allow me to run back to back days, and I am very cognizant of my running form and any signals my knee is giving me.  I will continue on this path until I’m ready to run back to back days without a metronome. I will sign up for a race when I feel I can complete it.

In 2018, I will get my butt to the gym. I hope to get back to lunch time classes about once per week, and lift once or twice per week as well. I’m not setting myself up with a strict schedule to begin, but I want to get back to the gym consistently in 2018. I am lucky that my employer pays most of my gym membership, leaving me with a tiny monthly fee. There is absolutely no reason I can’t get into a solid routine, which will certainly help strengthen my weak leg muscles and help me get some fitness back.  I want to keep up my cycling, and add in a regular cycle class, in addition to using my bike at home.

In 2018, I want to eat healthier. I want to limit or eliminate my pop and sugar intake. I drink wayyyy too much pop and have wayyyyy too many sweet treats.  The addiction is real.  As I ease my way back into running, I want to help my body and treat it with kind and tasty healthier foods instead of giving it sugar and crap to eat and drink. I know the journey off sugar or limiting sugar will be a long one, and I’m not planning to go cold turkey.  There isn’t anything wrong with an occasional treat, but my treats have become mostly daily. I anticipate this goal will be the toughest of the three I have for 2018.

Photo Nov 25, 10 54 03 AM

Thanksgiving run in Hays with Chris and Momma, my first outdoor run since before my surgery in July.

download