Couch Potatoes

It’s been about 4 months since the onset of my knee pain .   Three runs have been attempted since, 2 of which were in April and felt fine, the last of which in May lasted 8 minutes. I was in oodles of pain for 3 days afterwards. I biked easily and sporadically through May, but since things weren’t improving, I stopped that too. So swimming is the only thing I’ve done consistently since. Unfortunately, the last several times in the water, my back has not felt so good. (It’s been sporadic with some major aching and a little pain for a couple months). Grrr! Thankfully swimming is not doing any damage, per my doctor, so as long as I listen to my body, I can continue. Whew!

The knee has felt much better the last several weeks, but my back has not. An MRI a couple weeks ago revealed why. The results didn’t show anything major per se, but I have a plethora of issues. Some of you may recall I was in a bike accident a few years ago and herniated a disc. Thankfully, that hasn’t gotten worse, but now I also have lots of tears in the ligaments surrounding my back, as well as bone spurs, some degeneration, and a major lack of mobility in my lower spine. As a result, the nerve canal has greatly diminished which is causing pain to present in my knee and in my back too.

A nerve test was endured today as well just so we can pinpoint a more precise diagnosis. (This entailed lots of needle prodding in my lower back, legs, and the bottom of my foot). As suspected, some nerves aren’t firing well and/or incorrectly and some are damaged. What does this mean? Well, I just need more time to heal. Nothing can fix the issues other than time so no training for at least 4-8 months. I can swim some, do the elliptical up to 30 minutes a couple times per week, and walk for now. I’ll also be getting various types of therapy from my doctor including stretching, core exercises, neurological exercises, and maybe a couple of adjustments here and there as we need to deter all the scar tissue and muscles from getting tight.

There are a few other options to consider along the way, surgery is the last one, which I’m hoping to, and probably will, avoid. So I just need to continue on this path of inactivity in order to heal, something with which I am completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable. It’s not like I’ve only been told to not to run, not to bike, or not to do most activities. I’ve been told to totally change my lifestyle; no training, little working out, both of which mean a lot less eating too, all of which is very difficult for me. It messes with my head, my body, and my hormones. Feeling & being lethargic is foreign and no fun at all. Although I’ve pretty much swallowed this pill, it’s not always easy to be patient and optimistic. In the end, I know what I have to do and I will do it. There is no pushing through this. Tick tock tick tock…

Ironically, Scott is in a similar boat as he’s been struggling with plantar fasciitis for, well, years. He pushed through this year though, with the help of a cortisone shot, in order to run the Boston marathon. Luckily, he did awesome there, but now he’s paying the expected price.   He was put in a boot for a couple weeks and will see his doctor for a check-up in a couple days. It’s not feeling much better yet, but we’ll find out his options soon.

So there you have it, we’re both couch potatoes this summer! At least we’re making the most of it with more travel, more summer nights on the patio, and more time with family and friends.

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Plan E: Part II

Back to the ‘knee’ thing and why I’m not competing. The knee is not really the issue, it’s just where the pain is presenting due to a former back injury,  a foot issue, and lack of balance. The latter stems from issues with an ear canal.  All of theses can be rectified and I’m working with a doctor who does all of his own treatments which include a multitude of things from stem, massage, functional exercises, stretching, balance work, etc.  I’m also working with Janet Smith-Leet, a bio-mechanics coach, who has helped me tremendously in the past with other issues too.

I think what’s hard about all this too as I’ve always listened to my body and I’ve always taken time off between seasons as a big picture goal is longevity in this sport.  Last year I took 2 months off, the year before I took 4 months completely off. And, my running history really isn’t that long in the scheme of things.  I’ve only done so consistently for about 12 years.  Although I started competing in ’97, I was a summer-only athlete for my first several years. I  only swam year round, I biked and ran maybe 4-5 months of the year.

I’m swimming in thoughts as to what I can do this summer.  Hmmm, speaking of swimming, perhaps I’ll pimp myself out for doing the swimming leg on triathlon relays.  Let me know if you’re interested!