One day you’re on top of the world, doing your thing and then “SNAP! POP! Ow, WTF!?” You’re hurt. You’ll ask yourself questions like “what happened? did I have bad technique? shoddy equipment? when will I be able to exercise again? will I even be able to in the same capacity?”. If you’re lucky, a few days rest and you’re up and going again. If you aren’t and recovery will take some time, you’ll turn to Netflix and whatever kind of food you can have delivered to help fill the void.
Whether you’re aiming to break records, a casual gym rat, or even a weekend warrior, an injury that takes more than a few days to recover from seriously cramps your style. Now, not only do you have to deal with a physical pain, you have to try to deal with depression as you come to the realization that you won’t be a good as you were before. If you do happen to reach the level you were, it is going to take quite a bit of time. For some, they associate who they are with what they do. A runner, crossfitter, lifter, rower, etc. If you can’t perform your activity, who are you? The guy with the busted shoulder. The girl with the slipped disc. Nobody wants to be that person.
I have crappy knees, full of arthritis while in my mid 20s. Popping, clicking, and grinding are just a way of life for me. I just figured since they have complete knee replacements, I would continue to run, squat, and basically just go about my normal routine. I used exercise not only for the physical benefits, but because it helped my mental well being. Exercising gave me confidence in myself. It made me feel normal. Whole. Overtime, my knees became worse, especially the right one. Having to deal with constant pain and feeling like they were on fire, I went to the doctor, only to be told I would need to have surgery and wouldn’t be able to anything I had been doing. Take up swimming they said. Pffft
For a few weeks I stalled, unsure of anything. I was super cautious and kept off the that knee as much as I could, with my only form of exercise being physical therapy. I spent most of my time at work, day dreaming about hitting the gym, or on the couch watching Battlestar Galactica. I was going crazy. I was depressed and it showed. I became forgetful, lazy, and didn’t care about much other than if I had left over Domino’s or not. But I didn’t want to be that guy. Forever injured, forever wondering what could have been. I returned to the gym and did what I could. Body weight, light weights, girly machines. Anything to get to where I was before.
It took a few weeks, maybe even a few months, but I was squatting again. Sure it was only the bar, but I was back in the rack, slowly working my way up. I celebrated the small victories and hoped for the best. Soon enough I found myself becoming involved with rowing and then crossfit. Never did I think I would be not only back to where I was, but I dare say even better.
And then one day at the gym, I feel a sharp pain in my left hamstring as I’m lifting. I’m asking myself the same “what if’s?” and “whys?”as before. It hurts when I stand, when I sit, when I sleep, waking me in the night. My leg feels stiff all of the time. The doctor said I should be recovered in a few weeks, back in action, but it still isn’t a good feeling. I haven’t lifted in almost 3 months and I can’t tell you how many pizza’s or burgers I have consumed in an attempt to eat my feelings away. I’ve lost track of the hours spent on Netflix to pass the time and fill the void. But I d0n’t want to be that guy. Nobody wants to be that guy.
You have to take baby steps, otherwise you’ll spiral into a dark place. You have to celebrate the small victories and hope that you not only overcome, but become a better version of yourself than you were. Regardless of where you have to start or restart, you have to do it. It needs to be done.
Run Lucky 5K, March 2014