Train hard, rehab harder

23 days until Miwok.

Every empty moment in my day is filled with thoughts of rehab. When I’m not injured, I don’t even think about running in every. single. spare. moment, but now that I need my injury to heal in three weeks, rehab, rest and recovery are the only things on my mind.

When I wake up and slide out of bed to turn my alarm off, my inner eye is trained on the popliteus tendon in the back of my knee. How does it feel? Did it hurt when my foot touched the ground?

I try a single-leg squat to I pick up my phone and unplug the charger from the wall. Did that hurt? Do I have full range of motion?

Pulling off the calf sleeve that I sleep in, I run my hand over the tendons behind my right knee. How tight are they this morning?

I walk a few steps. Is it hurting? 

In between serving breakfast for my kiddos, getting dressed, putting on makeup, making a cup of coffee, making sure my kids have gotten dressed and put their shoes on, my inner eye is constantly trained on that popliteus. Did that hurt? What about this? How about now?

On days that I don’t have physical therapy, I get to my office and begin my hamstring curls as I check email on my standing desk. I use the hamstring to bring the right foot up behind me in endless repetitions. I lose track because I’m responding to, deleting and forwarding emails.

When those are done I take my first of several daily laps around the Bee Fit indoor walking path. The course involves two flights of stairs, up and then down. That inner eye is always trained on the back of the knee. First step. Did that hurt? Take two stairs at a time. Did that hurt? Put extra pressure on my right leg as I take another step. How about that? Walking up a flight of stairs isn’t so simple anymore. It’s a test.

First I stroll along, then I try walking faster. Any pain? Walk faster still. How about now? Step it up to almost race walking, after glancing behind me to make sure there are no coworkers around to watch my goofy gait. Still no pain? Maybe I can hike Miwok.

Back at my desk I pick my foot up and rest it on my desk, getting a deep stretch in the hamstring. That hurts. 

And so this continues, just about every hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On days that I have PT, I drive straight there from dropping my kiddos off at school. I’m excited! Every minute spent in PT is a leap toward recovery. It feels better to do something to facilitate healing than to just sit and wait for it to heal.

I go through about 45 minutes of exercises: single-leg squats, hamstring stretch, gastroc stretch, soleus stretch, hamstring curls, foam rolling the ITB and inner thigh, a back strengthening move on the pulley system, “Jane Fondas” and more.

Then comes my favorite part: I lie down on my tummy on a raised “bed” and someone straps the Anodyne system to my leg. First my leg is wrapped in plastic wrap, then plates with dozens of infrared lights are set on my popliteus muscle. Everything is fastened down with velcro straps. For 15 minutes the machine is cranked up to full gear while I lie there and scroll through Facebook on my phone. I don’t know exactly what this machine is doing, but my PT says it’s used on diabetic patients to bring blood to an area and it really helps facilitate healing. I NEED HEALING!!

The machine gets a little warm, but I don’t feel any effects immediately. About 2-3 hours after the treatment, my leg feels great. Almost as good as new. It’s definitely doing something!

I go to PT twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday.

The rest of the days I diligently do my “homework” – the two exercises prescribed to me.

I ice the muscle.

I take ibuprofen.

I heat the area or do a warmup walk and then stretch the heck outta that thing.

I go to yoga; heated vinyasa seems especially helpful.

I sleep with a calf sleeve on.

I try to get at least 7 hours — usually about 8 — of sleep each night.

I massage my hamstring and calf.

Every spare moment is invested into my recovery. I HAVE to get better in three weeks.

Luckily, my PT told me today that my healing is actually ahead of schedule. For my injury, 4-6 weeks is needed to recover — but my PT said it was going to be “more toward 6.” My injury came April 3, which left 5 weeks until the Miwok 100K. So, hopefully I’m at least one week ahead of schedule.

I told him today, “I will not run at all leading up to the race if that means I’ll be recovered enough to run it. I won’t train, I just want it to heal.”

He still has a sneaking suspicion that I’m trying to run without telling him. But I’m really not! I am putting so much more effort into recovering than I have put into any training in the past year.

I need this Western States qualifier, and I’m going to get it. End of story.




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