An Update on My Recovery

2014-06-21 09.10.23-1A few weeks ago when I sat down to write the blog post below, I was at my lowest point mentally in my recovery process. I was completely over being injured. I was frustrated to not be training. I was bored. I was out of shape and I felt like I had exhausted ways to get rid of all the pent up energy. Pretty much – I was having a “woe is me” moment. And I opted not to post the blog because I felt like maybe it was too negative – maybe I was too emotional in the moment and needed a few weeks to calm down.

Now – 9 and a ½ weeks in to my recovery, everything is brighter. I got off my crutches yesterday (yes!), I am swimming up a storm (albeit still with a pull buoy), I’m about to start riding outside, and I am (hopefully) just a few short weeks away from getting back to running. I’m training at probably 60% volume to full time, and it feels…..amazing! I am a happier person being able to do what I love.

But I came back and re-read what I wrote, and actually, I feel like it was pretty honest and real, and a good representation of where I was at one of my toughest moments in this process. So….rather than giving you the update of how GREAT things are now that I am back to semi-pro status (ha!), I’ve decided to post my blog from the end of June.

Happy reading all!

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photo 1As of yesterday, Saturday, June 22nd, I have been officially on the DL list for 5 weeks and counting. I feel like it has been ages, and I feel like both my recovery and how I have dealt with it mentally has been entirely different than what I would have imagined.

After Ironman Texas, despite being disappointed, I pretty much pulled up my boot straps and immediately took the mindset that I was going to make the absolute most of my time away from training. I tried to take a really positive approach and turned my focus to maximizing my recovery, to taking the opportunity to sleep in on a regular basis, to do things I don’t normally get to do, to working on brand development and work with sponsors, and allowing my body to rest in a way it hasn’t for years. I also believed I was going to nail my recovery in every possible way, that the pain would subside quickly and that I would be back training in no time….or at least back training in the pool. I kept telling everyone that perhaps this was my opportunity to swim like crazy and work on my weakness.

Things haven’t been bad by any means, but things have certainly not gone according to MY plan.

photo 2When I initially spoke with my doctor he said I was to be non-weight bearing for 3 weeks, on crutches for 4-6 weeks, no biking for 6 weeks and no running for 3 months.

What this translated to in my mind was that I would be non-weight bearing for 3 weeks, during which time my leg would completely heal, and I would be off crutches in 4 weeks. I thought I would be swimming within a week, and at least spinning for 1.5 hour long sessions every day.

Nope – that hasn’t happened

At 5 weeks in, I was only just cleared to begin slightly weight bearing, which in reality means I will likely be on crutches for another 3 weeks at least. In 5 weeks I have swam 4 times, for no longer than 30 minutes, and I have biked twice – both at 60-70 watts and at 60 rpms…for 15 minutes.

After every swim and every ride my leg has been very sore. It hurts to put weight on it.

Now – am I behind the ball in my recovery? I’m not at all.

photo 4But if there was ever a lesson in patience, recovering from an injury is certainly it. I am lucky enough that I have an amazing team of people around me that are not only helping me get back to healthy, but who are also keeping me in check with respect to that process and making sure I do it right, versus rush a comeback and end up prolonging my injury and any future issues. While for the most part I feel as though I have been willing to take the healing process seriously, there have certainly been more than a few times when I have wanted to push the limits and they have been there to hold me back.

I’ve received a lot of comments from people who have said that they have been so impressed with my positive attitude and approach. And while I do believe that my overall attitude has been great (and I will definitely pat myself on the back for that one), this process has not been without frustration and periods of mental weakness.

photo 3Do I believe I will get healthy and return better, faster, stronger? I do – 100%. And I also appreciate it takes time. But as an athlete who is used to spending 4-7 hours a day training – not to mention the strength training, massage and all the other aspects of managing our recovery and careers, NOT training has started to take its toll. When the injury first happened I remember one of my coaches, Gerry Rodrigues, said to me – “its ok to feel pissed off”. And I sort of laughed and him and thought to myself “Its ok Gerry – I am ok with this. I’ll be ok”. And for a good 4 weeks, I was ok. My feelings and positive attitude were genuine and not contrived at all. But admittedly, in the last week, the frustration of not training has caught up to me. I’ve been in a bit of a funk. And then I’ve been pissed at myself for being pissed. I feel like there is absolutely no reason for me to feel disappointed or annoyed. But I think when we are passionate about what we do and we love our jobs, it can be hard sometimes to just be given little tastes of it. It’s like leading the horse to water to some extent and then only giving them a drop or two.

Believe me – I am in NO way complaining. I am thankful and so appreciative of what I have been able to do. And the work I have been doing in the strength room is actually some pretty amazing stuff that I know will have a big impact for me once I am back regularly in the pool.

And there have been a LOT of positives. I have let my body rest in a way it hasn’t in a long time. I’ve had a few fun nights out and not worried about training the next day. I’ve had more flexibility in eating out with friends, staying up a bit later. I’ve been able to live like a “normal” person for a few weeks (albeit with crutches, but still), and I’ve had the chance to really see and understand why I love my job so much.

I’m excited to get back to training. So I think I am a little grumpy because I am getting antsy!

I’m writing this blog for a number of reasons – the first is that I think many of us paint really rosy pictures through social media and give off the impression that things are always ok, that we are always on and never lose it mentally. And while we ARE all mentally tough and things are pretty darn rosy and amazing about 95% of the time, it’s also pretty darn human for things to suck from time to time, and for us NOT to always be on.

2014-06-28 13.49.24I recognize I’ve put up a very positive attitude and I will continue to do that. Because that IS real. But it has been tough at times and the way I have dealt with that has varied. But as in everything we do – all of these experiences offer something for us to learn – to learn about ourselves, to learn about our bodies, to learn about our minds….and in many ways, learn about other people.

I’m heading in to week 6 this week, and my goal for THIS week is to have my pity party for a few more days and then regain the positive attitude I have had throughout so much of this. Refocus, re-commit, and get back on track.

Don’t be afraid to feel frustrated or down. But also don’t let it overwhelm and define you. I know I don’t and I won’t.

Until next time

Don’t dream it. Be it.

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