Hey guys! Welcome back to tales of a torn ACL. ha ha ha! It’s been seven weeks since my skiing accident and things have really been coming along nicely. If you would have told me six weeks ago that I would almost feel normal today, I would have never believed you. It’s truly amazing what the body can do.
The last time I checked in, I was just beginning my physical therapy and I was easing my way back into training. I’m happy to report everything is going very very well. As soon as I was given the green light by my PT I resumed my Ironman swim training. It took me a few swim sessions to get back in the swing of things, but it felt like I’d lost no time. Today, I’m back to pre-injury swim strength and I’m still seeing so much progress. I’m getting faster every day and even seeing a few new PRs. I think this was the one area of practice my ACL had the least effect on.
I have continued my physical therapy every day. I see my PT in office once a week or once every two weeks and we go through new exercises. I do those every day of the week at home or at the gym and it’s made such a difference. We initially started with range of motion exercises that focused on regaining my flexibility and muscle activation. Today, we’ve worked our way up to mild weight lifting and single leg balancing. The idea is to gain the strength back in my quad muscle and the muscles surrounding the knee.
Did you know that tearing an ACL creates so much trauma to the quad muscle that you see severe muscle atrophy? When I was first injured my quad muscle seemed to shrink in size. I’m talking a hugely noticeable reduction. You could poke it and it was squishy and you could feel my thigh bone. Later, I learned that it was because of my ACL tear and that I would have to learn to activate that muscle again. A large part of my PT was just flexing that muscle while seated. It’s one of those basic functions of the body that all of a sudden becomes so difficult.
At the beginning of February, I officially began working with my new coach, Suzanne Flanningan from Sooz sports. If you guys remember, I mentioned that I’d won three months of triathlon coaching through the Equally Inspiring program by Tri Equal. At the time, I thought it was going to be helpful as I was new to full distance Ironman training. Now, I realize that with my injury, I would have never been able to make it with the training plan I was using. While the Be Iron Fit program was great for the first 15 weeks, I had to take several weeks off after tearing my ACL. More importantly, I haven’t been able to run. At all! That sounds so scary to say when Ironman Texas is just a short 9 weeks away. How will I ever make it across the finish line?!
With a new plan! The back up plan. Sooz has written a new training program for me which takes into consideration the time I lost during my injury as well as the limitations on my knee. We are quickly building the miles on the bike to get me back up to where I need to be in order to race in April. I’ve even been able to take my rides back outside again. While I still cannot run, we are planning to implement a run/walk strategy for the last leg of the race. This was pretty hard to hear at first, but I have to adjust my goals and take into account the fact that I’M INJURED.
There were so many people who told me that I should give up on Ironman and have surgery. They weren’t trying to discourage me. Most of them had been through this injury themselves and were either forced to have surgery or would have just rather get it fixed right away. I chose to rely on my doctor’s advice and take into account my unique situation. Everyone is different and not all treatment plans are the same. I’m so incredibly grateful to have a team of people working with me and supporting me on my journey to Ironman. I could not be doing any of this without my physical therapist and my coach guiding me. Although my plan for Ironman has not been perfect, I’m still able to continue my training and that, in itself, is a great gift. I refuse to let these gifts go to waste.
They say that Ironman isn’t just about the race, it’s about the journey to get there. Today, I’m so grateful for my journey. I have learned to take risks, to cry when I need to, sort through my emotions and dig deep for strength. I’ve learned that set backs should be expected, but that they don’t have to stop you no matter how impossible they seem. I’m so grateful for all of this. Every single minute of it.
I hope you guys are out there chasing your dreams and if you’re not, it’s not too late to start.