Mental and Physical Therapy

When I started this post, it was January 11th. Exactly two months since TriRock.

After a month of physical therapy, three major holidays, lots of bad eating, copious amounts of drinking, and a crap ton of reading, I’m gonna venture out on a limb and say “I’m healed!”

Not in a palm on your forheaded Jesus kinda of way but a healthy, gained a little weight and a little perspective kind of way.

You see having an injury that prevents you from doing the things you love, like working out. Gives you time to focus on other things, like planning your redemption race. Ok, I did more than that but my entry fees for the Olympic Distance race of TriRock Clearwater for 2013 are paid already…

On a serious note, I am extremely lucky to have two coaches that are physical therapists as well as a number of teammates that are in the profession as well. They did whatever they could to fit me into their schedules, figure out what the heck was wrong with me – not an easy task- and put me back together again. It was a process that actually stretches back to 2010 while I was training for a half marathon, was injured, and wasn’t diagnosed properly.

As I look back on that time, I wish I had pushed more, asked more questions, and sought a second opinion. If there is one piece of advice I have for anyone with a medical issue it is to remember what you learned in elementary school science. Medical treatment is science and subject to the “scientific method!” A diagnosis is just a hypothesis until you test at a minimum 3 times. Is it expensive? Yes. Does your insurance cover it? Probably not. Could it save your life? Yes! My situation was not life or death but I didn’t follow my own advice. When the Doc told me in 2010 “just find another sport” after my MRI and X-ray showed nothing, I thought bull! and took over 8 months off from running and everything else I enjoyed. The next athletic activity I tried was P90X – let me tell you, the DVDs are worth it if all you are interested in is getting ripped. I was able to complete the 90 days with no pain and went back to running very, very slowly. The strength I had gained from P90X covered a much more serious problem for a very long time. As I continued to strength train at the start of my triathlon journey in March of 2012, I continued to hide the problem. Fortunately or unfortunately, as I trained for my Olympic Distance race I didn’t make enough time to keep strength training and Hell broke loose on race day.

Fast forward 4 months – there I was on the couch barely able to run 1.7 miles. Moral of the story? Strength training is just as important and remembering the scientific method!

It took over 4, hour-long visits for two physical therapists to identify exactly what my problems were. But! they finally got it. I was diligent in doing the homework workouts they ‘prescribed’ and another 4 visits later I was cleared to run. I’ve successfully completed multiple 2 mile runs at this point and next week I get to do 3 miles – you have no idea how excited I am about this! Or how excited I am to do it with my new run buddy…

big ears

The newest edition to my Tri family and my run partner in crime – Bella

This experience has taught me how important strength training is for endurance events but it has also helped me mentally. In the month that I was trekking back and forth to Physical Therapy I wasn’t supposed to do much – no running, biking, roller skating, intense walking, skiing, etc. The pool became my friend – more than usual. But in that time, I supported the HB at his first duathlon, I read a ton of books, I stopped caring about what I ate, enjoyed pizza every chance I got, I drank more Sam Adams Oktoberfest and Winter Lager than I ever had, and I went to every outdoor festival and nature preserve in a 10 mile radius of my house since I had Saturdays and Sundays available. And the HB and I got a German Shepherd puppy or as I call her ‘Big Ears’ and ‘Run Buddy’. These experiences reminded me that it isn’t always about the next long bike ride. Do I want to be faster on the bike? Hell Yeah! But maybe I need to read Steve Job’s Biography in three days flat. Is it important to keep my weight in check? Maybe, but damn Sam Adams taste fabulous while watching College Football still in your jammies! Do I need to have all my workouts scheduled for the next week? Probably just so I can make sure to get all my professional work done. But a puppy sure will throw your entire life upside down. Do I want to try out all the wonderful gear my family got me for Christmas? Yup, but it doesn’t do me any good if I’m not healthy.

It was not easy to relax and enjoy these experiences while my SISTAS were all around me training for half and full ironmans, half and full marathons, competing in mud runs, or just getting together for a great workout. But it was a much-needed physical and mental rest and some lessons you just have to learn while sitting on the sidelines sipping a beer or snapping photos of your teammates.

mud run

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