Not Quite There Yet

My knee recovery is continuing to go smoothly. I’ve now been cleared to ride bikes with no limitations. I thought being a little bit more active in the gym with being able to do abs, ride bikes, and do upper body weights now would give me a similar feeling to a “runner’s high” since I haven’t worked out in so long… but I still don’t feel as satisfied doing the minimum.

Now I know that I should abide by my limitations given to me by my physical therapist and surgeon (and still plan on doing so) but it’s been a bit underwhelming thus far. Part of me feels like I’m being ungrateful- I mean just a few weeks ago I was on crutches and feeling a bit down and lonely about that and now I’m able to walk around with my brace on. I know I won’t be cleared to run until towards the end of this year and that this will be a slow process.

I think part of my struggle is with my body image. I know conceptually speaking, I can’t have an “mid-season body” around the clock 24/7. It’s unsustainable. But my mind would like me to stay lean all the time. I look fine to the average person. But all my weight first goes to my stomach before anywhere else (bye-bye abs). All this time away from the gym has lead me to lose some of my muscle and not look as toned. And I know I probably sound conceited but I hate that. I love looking toned but also realize that it is not my reality right now. I know how easy it is for me to make myself miserable by not living in the current moment. I truly can’t expect myself to look like how I would mid-season right now.

I’ve been working on visualization a bit so I imagine myself sprinting on a track (with my toes pointed in dorsiflexion, of course) whenever I do a bike workout. I don’t break much of a sweat with biking and abs but I wasn’t able to do any of these activities just a few weeks ago so I’m choosing to be grateful. I have to choose to honor and love my body even when it doesn’t live up to the high standards and expectations I have for it.

Getting back into shape will definitely be tough once I’m cleared for higher intensity exercises. The short-term lactic acid I feel when using my Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) cuff in physical therapy will not compare to the lactic acid I will feel when I hit my first 300 meter repeat workout again. I’m terrified of the thought of it. But if I’ve done it once, then I can do it again! I think this time away from running will help me mentally when I think I have nothing left during hard workouts in the future. I can think back to this time where I desperately wanted to run and jump again and use that to fuel me.

I hope these next few months go by fast but choosing to be grateful in the moment will go a long way. I’m blessed that I could even walk 6-weeks post major surgery. As I sit here and watch others hit some early season PR’s, I’m reminded that my pace of life is not the same as theirs. Everyone has a story and a testimony to share and it’s okay that I’m not on the same level as some right now. My time will come.

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