Tag Archives: training

Physiotherapist taping up someone's knee

Week 2: I’ve been here before

In less than three months it will be one year since the knee reconstruction surgery.

Some say writing down a goal and making it public will help achieve it. Other research says talking about a thing becomes (in one’s mind) a substitute for actually doing it, thus undermining motivation. But I’m determined —

On Saturday April 9, I’m going to run at least 5 kilometres.

My physiotherapist says absolutely I will be able to run 5K by April 9th, and then, possibly, pull off a sprint triathlon in the summer. He gave me my first two weeks of workouts, written on a piece of paper which I promptly left in the treatment room. But no matter, I have them committed to memory. It’s pretty simple: at least 2 track workouts per week jogging the straights and walking the curves, ramp up length/intensity as long as I’m relatively pain-free. Do my strength routine on off days (as well as swim and ride bike and get on the elliptical trainer).

I’ve come back from debilitating injury before; I KNOW how much work this is going to be. It’s going to involve change, and dragging myself to workouts I “don’t wanna!” do in order to be consistent. It involves elliptical machine, and the track, neither of which are my favourite places to work out, but if it gets me to my goal, I’m there. I’ve been there before. I can do this.

I’m not completely pain-free. When I overdo it, my knee hurts like a bugger – but the good news is I’m giving myself a chance to overdo it (with the oversight of my physiotherapist, and a clean bill of health from my surgeon, I hasten to add). I’m not sitting around working myself to death anymore – not since the Christmas holidays when I deliberately started increase my physical activity because I knew I had to get my stress levels in check. When I do overdo it, I back off, ice it, and hit the pool instead the next day. Working on a campus built on a hill helps. Stairs make me stronger, according to my physio guy.

I’m going to start by dragging that box full of running gear from the storage room. Wish me luck and cheer me on.

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How being a multisport athlete means you never have to say you can’t work out

You know how I came to be a triathlete? I was a runner who had to start cycling and swimming because of injuries; it was a natural progression. These days, yet again, I am very glad I’m a multi-sport athlete.

A week and a half ago I was hiking Mount Finlayson with a friend. It was a foggy, wet day (although not raining). The trail was slippery in places, but otherwise OK. I had vibram-soled day hikers on; the same ones that have taken me up this hike, and others, many times.

We stopped at the top for some water and a photo, and started to make our way down. Not far from the summit, I stepped down. My foot twisted in, my leg twisted out, and in a heartbeat I was down on the ground writhing in pain.

My friend helped me hobble slowly down the mountain; but I fell two or three more times; my knee just gave way. At one point it made an audible, sickening crack sound, which was not (thank goodness) accompanied by pain. My doctor says it was probably my knee cap sub-luxating (or something like that). My physiotherapist says I kept falling because after that initial trauma my muscles were tensed up and not working properly.

The next day I hobbled to a walk-in clinic with my now-swollen knee and got an order for X-rays, tensor bandage, crutches, and ibuprofen.

It became apparent to me that my training plans are now put on hold. I spent last week trying to hold off a funky black cloud of misery, weight gain, longing for my bike, and longing to be out running trails, and being unable to even do household chores properly (pro tip gleaned from Twitter: hook a bag onto a crutch to carry things in. Pack food up like a picnic for taking it to the dining room to eat).

My friends were fantastic. Crystal came over to clean my place. Another friend took me out for dinner. I had offers of meals and help that I was so grateful for .. And my friend Yukari sent me a sweet note. All very welcomed and which brightened my spirits immeasurably. I drove up to the Cobble Hill 10k race to help out and cheer from my crutches on the sidelines. It was a gorgeous day and I was inspired to not lose hope.

First good news came a few days later when I saw my own doc. “Have I lost my triathlon season?” I asked her.

“No, no, not yet. I think you should heal. No broken bones, no ACL tear, possible meniscus tear, but we’ll know more after a month of physiotherapy.” So, I made an appointment with my sometime torturer – er – physiotherapist – Matt.

More good news after that first physio visit. Matt thinks it’s not torn, that it was a painful sprain/stretched ligament, and it’s on its way to recovery as long as I do a few things right. I can start spinning on the bike indoors for 10-15 minutes at NO tension. I can swim with light kicking (no paddle board, kick drills or frog kick). I have gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to do for the next 4 weeks.

The other interesting thing Matt said was to hold on to my crutches: either walk correctly (meaning slowly) or use them – but AVOID LIMPING at all costs. If I walk with a limp I’ll be teaching my body bad habits that I’ll just have to un-teach once things progress.

So – there it is. Hope reigns. Things are looking up. I might not get the times I hoped for, but it looks like I will be able to do all the events I signed up for on 2014:

  • April 27: TC 10K
  • May 25: Subaru Shawnigan Lake Triathlon (Sprint)
  • June 15: Subaru Victoria Triathlon (As the swim leg of TriStars Scrambled Legs Relay team-Olympic)
  • June 29: Tri of Compassion (Sprint)
  • July 13: Cowichan Challenge Triathlon (“Challenge” distance)
  • August 4: Self Transcendence Triathlon (Olympic)
  • Later in August: Maybe Tour de Victoria 140K, but entry fee $$$ is spendy!
  • October (if all goes well) – Victoria Half Marathon

UPDATE May 25: I have edited this post to take out the name and photograph of the person with whom I was hiking, because reasons.

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Tori Tour De Victoria Finish

Are injuries inevitable?

Here we are again, back on the elliptical trainer. Possible meniscus tear; I’ve been “rehabbing” for weeks now. This is a new injury; I don’t usually have problems with my knees, but there it is.

It started in August. My triathlon season was over prematurely when my stepfather died suddenly and I flew to be with my mother, right before my last scheduled race of the season: the Self-Transcendance.

Not wanting my season to be over, and needing to burn off stress, I ran while I was in Saskatchewan: country roads, small town streets, and the amazing Devonian Pathway system in Regina, my old stomping grounds. I thought I could salvage my race season by signing up for the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon in October.

Devonian Pathway in Wascana park.

Wascana Park near University of Regina

I was 12k into a gorgeous 15k run around Wascana Park when my knee suddenly started to hurt so much I hobbled 3k back to my car. I stayed off running for a couple of weeks, then tried unsuccessfuly to ease back in. I’ve been struggling with it ever since. That’s three months now!

I did an internet search of “Are triathlon injuries inevitable?” and got 13,800,000 hits. Make that running injuries and it’s 8,720,00 hits.

I take it the answer is yes.

For most people, injury is at some point inevitable. We go out too hard too fast, we pile on mileage instead of building up slowly, we ignore warning signs, we don’t cross-train and build up some core strength, we don’t stretch enough. I’m guilty on all counts.

Tori Tour De Victoria Finish

Finishing the Tour de Victoria 100k ride. The only time the sun came out that day.

In the midst of all this I hurt my back too. Anyone familiar with body mechanics could see these two were probably related. I was still trying to get in some running miles with a sore knee, and it was altering the way I ran, and my lower back paid for it. I managed to bike up Hurricane Ridge near Port Angeles, Washington with some friends in late August/early September; a gorgeous day, but I was in agony by the time I made it to the top. I completed the 100K event of the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria in September, in the pouring rain and wind, relatively pain-free under the care of my physiotherapist.

Since then I’ve been hard at work strengthening around my knee and core, and waiting to heal. However, I tried going hard swimming (because I couldn’t bike or run) and quickly added on mileage in the pool – then I strained my shoulder.

Injuries are only inevitable when you keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Matt, my physiotherapist, shook his head at me when I reported the shoulder injury. This is what made me really buckle down and start listening to him:

“You masters athletes and weekend warriors,” he said. “You think you can go hard all year round, and this is what happens. You know elite athletes take a few weeks completely off – do *nothing* – after their season ends, don’t you?”

Since then I’ve been a good girl, doing as I’m told, backing off completely. I’ve been granted some sanity-saving bike rides as I recover. I’ve learned some lessons:

Tori jumping on the Kinsol Trestle GIF

Jumping for joy because Life!

Yes, injuries are inevitable, when you try to be a superhero or keep up with the fitter, younger people on your team, or have something to prove. When you really tune in to your own body and only gradually push your limits, reaching only just beyond your grasp at any one time, they don’t have to be inevitable. Training, especially for endurance sports, is a cumulative, long-term enterprise. You can’t cram for it, you have to put in consistent effort.

And with that, I’m off to the pool to do my exercises and swim a modest 800 metres or so. Soon I’ll be back to my old, joyous self.

Photo credits:

Wascana Park by Tori Klassen available for sharing under CC-BY-SA license.

Tour de Victoria and “jumping” gif by Patrick Fisher, used with permission.

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