Getting back in shape, sort of
A three year injury that culminates in a surgical procedure wreaks a lot of havoc on the body. In light of that, I have been on a rampage to get back in shape. To be fair, prior to surgery I was not out of shape per se. I was, I suppose, out of condition or not sharp or well below 100%. That is where the confusion begins. Being in shape has so many different meanings. I was fit enough to run 80+ miles per week and swim a decent workout of 4000 meters, and I spent 6 days a week doing strength and rehab work in the gym; but my body was ailing and I never felt good. I was paradoxically in shape but not in shape.
During the injury phase of the last few years, I did my best to maintain strength and flexibility through physical therapy and gym work. I was limited in my capacity to really progress forward with certain movements, so mostly I was just trying to prevent other injuries and reduce the potential for muscle imbalance. Fortunately, I was able to keep my hips and glutes fairly strong enabling me to run the distances I was despite the rib injury.
In terms of running and swimming workouts, I probably executed 50% of my run workouts and 25% of my swim workouts. These are terrible percentages for a person accustomed to nailing 95% of workouts. The failed workouts were due to pain and the inability to breath; the workload on the ribcage required by a hard swim or run was too much most of the time. Since I had an injury that seemingly had no fix, I decided that I needed to try rather than cry, so I approached each workout with an optimism not quite befitting my situation.
Before surgery, I was in shape, by virtue of the fact that I could run a lot of miles and swim quite a few meters, but I was out of shape when measured against peak performance ability.
Now that I am feeling much better and my body is healthier post-surgery, I have been able to run and swim at a level I could only dream about a few short weeks ago. I am working on getting back in shape. And, by that, I mean, running and swimming at a higher level on a more consistent basis.
Initially, my workouts showed an almost instantaneous improvement – no doubt, my times were faster. Unfortunately, I did not have the muscle endurance to support this new found speed. Somewhere toward the back end of each workout I would blow up spectacularly. One workout in particular, I had to pick up pieces of my legs and lungs off the pavement. On Sundays, I dragged myself through the last few miles of my long runs. My quads burned, my glutes ached, and my back throbbed. Muscles that had been dormant suddenly awakened. In the pool, during VO2 max swims, I would push off the wall and my arms would just lock up rendering me unable to complete a stroke.
Each workout, though, I noticed I could get further along before the inevitable rigor mortis set in until this week when I finally completed entire workouts without shuffling or floating to the finish. My ability to take this step up in training comes in parallel with my improvement in the gym where I have finally been able to accomplish movements and exercises that were off limits when I was injured.
Getting back in shape has been a challenge offset by the fact it has been enjoyable. It feels good to feel good again.