My Journey to Fitness Part 2: Down but not Out!

crutches

2 months have passed since I posted My Journey to Fitness Part 1: The Photo I Did Not Want to Share, Getting My Head Around Starting

To find out why I was unfit in the first place read Dealing with Injury: A bit About Me and My Journey So Far

Want to know whats happened since? Here we go:

Sooooooooooo I did what I said, started very gently. My runs were run one minute, walk 2.  And I was so happy!  I actually had tears of joy running down my face when I first went out for a run! Cycling I found tough but again it was good to be out.  I decided not to try swimming just yet.

5 days into training, whilst on a 1 minute run burst, running down a hill…I tore the ligaments in my ankle!  And it hurt!  A lot!  I actually thought I had broken it.  I sat on the ground hyper-ventilating swinging between “I can’t frigging believe this” to “how the hell am I going to get back to the car”.

I took stock and decided that my imminent problem was getting back to the car and that was all I needed to focus on for now.  I tried standing but couldn’t put any weight on my foot.

Some runners past me and asked if I was OK and I gave the standard British answer of fine thanks!

Someone else stopped and I sent them away with a “I would rather just sit here and cry on my own for a bit”.

Then I sucked it up and started hobbling.  I found my brother who sent me on a short cut to the re-group which involved moody looking cows and a river crossing.

By the time I got to the re-group I no longer needed to focus on how to get back to the car as it was clear I would make it eventually so instead I burst into tears, because I just couldn’t believe after so long out of the game with injury I was injured again. My good friend Rambo reminded me that it would get better and this was not forever which put things into perspective for me. Then I borrowed someones walking sticks (my need was greater than his, survival of the fittest and all that) and made my way back to the car, went to the pub and ate chips! A choking incident that involved first aid intervention from a guy we call mini-bar topped off my evening and had me labelled as an attention-whore!  My brother took me home “before anything else could happen”.

The swelling was bad but a trip to hospital confirmed it was ligaments and the good news was, I was ok to cycle.  So I hopped on the turbo-trainer for about 2 minutes until it became extremely clear I was not OK to cycle! I took a week off training to allow the swelling to go down.  I wasn’t going to be able to run for a while, I knew that, but once things had settled I could cycle which was a massive bonus.  I decided that now would be a good time to see how swimming felt and to join a gym so I could at least do some upper body stuff.

Swimming and cycling have always been my weakest disciplines so it was actually really nice to be able to focus on them for a while. I just had to trust that the running will come back eventually.  And it would because running is my thing!

Getting in the pool for the first time was hard! I felt so unfit, but it’s gradually coming back as is the cycling.  I am not up to any great distance yet, I’m heading out on a 40 miler today (I used to knock out 100-milers) but its consistent, regular and speed is improving.  I did my first 2.5K swim yesterday.  I felt good in the pool but wrecked for the rest of the day! And I have done 2 x 30 min runs!  They are short, slow and done quite gingerly but I am running!!

forty-miles

The gym has been a hard one mentally as I am used to being strong and confident in that environment.  I stupidly think that people are looking at me thinking, what is she doing in here (which I very much doubt they are) but counteract it with the thought that they know nothing about me or my journey and I am proud of where I have got to.

I have also gone back to yoga which is so important both physically and mentally and I am very grateful that I am able to do that.

So whilst sometimes it feels has though I am not making progress, I am making slow, gradual progress and that is probably a lot better than launching into a fast, smashy, smashy progression that will have repercussions in the long run. I always keep in the back of my mind that I will come back stronger than ever before if I play my cards right.

And it’s actually quite exciting.  Because I have had to go right back to basics, I feel that I am able to re-invent myself as an athlete.  All those niggly things that I knew I shouldn’t be doing or could have been doing better but never had time to focus on because I was too busy smashing myself into my next goal:  I now have time to focus on, to correct, to perfect, to experiment with.

I am now starting to think about goals and challenges for next year but am not in a position to commit to them until I have a couple of decent runs under my belt.

I have set myself a couple of mental goals which are:

  •  A century ride (100 miles) mid November
  • A half marathon in December

So the take home messages from this are:

  • Everything happens for a reason.  “I can’t believe this has happened” is a wasted energy. Spend your time acknowledging that it has happened, accepting it and formulating a plan to move forward.
  • What you did pre-injury is not wasted.  It will stay in your muscle memory and make your come-back more rapid than if you hadn’t done it.
  • Find the positives – there is always something you can do that will make a difference, injury/return to fitness,  gives you new opportunity and a time to be different.
  • However unfit you think you are, no-one is judging you. Be proud of yourself, acknowledge your journey and be proud of where you have got to.

Every training session is a victory. Just getting of the sofa and out of the door is a victory.

Go forth and be victorious! 

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