Monday, December 29, 2014

Finding Strength in Recovery

So, I haven't been participating in any "high impact" activities for a solid four months now; the longest I've withdrawn involuntarily from my usual running/soccer lifestyle. I wrecked a ligament in my tendon in the final weeks of Summer 2014 indoor soccer, from overuse between my two soccer teams and two volleyball teams, and the blatant disregard for its subtle hints that I should take it easy. I can even remember the one kick that ruined me. I was unable to take stairs without wincing, unable to walk without limping; this was enough for me to realize I had to simply stop for a while. Never in my entire athletic life have I had an injury that's put me on the bench for more than one week or two. I realize how lucky I've been, and I realize that I sorta, kinda, maybe had this coming.

I went to an orthopedist, who told me no bones had been broken, simply that a ligament had been torn. Should I have gone to physical therapy? Yes. Did I? Nah. I used a different kind of therapy.

I rested it, iced it. I was the girl wearing thick socks and tennis shoes to, at and from work as if they were regular work shoes. I felt sorry for myself for a little while too. I also realized how lucky I was to never have wrecked myself during my glory days on the soccer field in high school and college. Straight up, injuries suck. But they're also important. A lot of mental strength, patience and self-determination are born from life's little ways of forcing you to slow down.

When my body couldn't scream at me any louder to get it out and active again, I bought a new bathing suit and goggles, and headed up to the NY Health and Racquet Club locations that held a pool, at 23rd Street. At home, I'd watch YouTube videos and recall what it was to smoothly execute a flip turn, and the proper freestyle breathing techniques. I started visiting the teeny, crowded, always-a-wait pool two nights a week. I wished I was back in Miami, doing laps here instead.

But what can you do. I was able to swim 30 minutes straight, without stopping, quite easily. Swimming's a very lonely sport. No wonder I never lasted long with it in high school. But, I was incredibly lucky to have this rehabilitating activity to keep my heart rate up and my muscles loose during my otherwise inactive days and nights.

I nervously gave myself two or three days on the slopes, protected in my ACE wrap in my snowboarding boot. It did alright until one or two really tough, tight turns (inevitably due to the fact that the crew took one trail and I had accidentally started down a different one, and was trying to redirect myself), at which point I'd have to call it a day. This was NOT the time to push my ankle.

Maybe now that the Christmas hullabaloo's died down, or the fact that I just turned 30, or because it's going to be 2015 any day now, I decided it's time to get back out there. I have excellent range of motion, and no pain when I walk or climb stairs. I popped into the gym at lunch today and after 20 minutes of stretching, cautiously approached the cross trainer. I set it on a flat grade and only pressed my resistance up to about a 6. I "skied" it out for about ten minutes then climbed up on a treadmill.

I was actually scared of it. I felt like it was going to swallow me whole, like I wouldn't have control over how fast it was going. That my ankle would remember what running feels like and tighten up, or give out. I wished the treads were softer, or had a little more bounce in them. I can imagine it's a similar feeling for anyone starting a weight loss program, or a training regimen. You're filled with doubt. You're filled with fear. Well... this is all I have to say about that:

There are four ways you can handle fear. You can go over it, under it or around it. But if you are ever to put fear behind you, you must walk straight through it. Once you put fear behind you, leave it there.

I walked for a minute at 4.0mph then upped it to 6.2mph and jogged for nine minutes.

...without pain!!! I trotted along, and slowly, every muscle in my lower legs, my abs, woke up. They waved and said, "Oh, hiiiiii! Welcome back, girlfriend! We missed you!" It felt incredible. I'd never doubted myself, or the strength of my body like I did today. I felt ashamed, embarrassed. I'd never dealt with recovering from an injury before. My experience is so minor compared to people who come back from crazy accidents. They are hero's to me. So here I go... baby steps. Without fear.