I’m not going to lie, crazy ass fans, this kind of sucks.
The Sob Story
I think – at least I hope – I’ve hit the low point of this recovery process. After 5 weeks of solid, progressive injury recovery, I’ve had a rough month. I took week 6 mostly off because of my first bout with Jude’s Revenge (mega sickness blamed on baby). Week 7 I started gently easing out of the boot yet somehow developed posterior tiblial tendonitis (inner ankle), which has delayed my progression back to activity. The one positive point was that I was at least progressing in the pool, and could finally swim a decent amount without the ankle condom boot contraption. But on Saturday during an easy swim, my shoulder freaked out and now it’s sore as balls. WTF dude? Seriously?
So why am I writing this sob story? Because I said from the outset that I would talk about what it was like to go through this surgery and the entire recovery process. And while I’m generally a pretty positive guy, there are a lot of times when this s*!t really sucks. And right now is one of those times.
I was gaining some good momentum on my last update. I was developed my core strength, strengthened my shoulders, and maintained some aerobic fitness. Then the last four weeks have felt like a stall, or even a step back. Looking at my training log depresses me. The tendonitis is relatively common for people who’ve spent 8 weeks in a boot, but that doesn’t make it suck any less.
I thought by week 9 I’d be back rolling into some real training again. I thought I’d be swimming and lightly kicking, riding a bike clipped in outside and potentially even running a bit on anti gravity treadmill. Instead, I feel out of shape, directionless, and my “workout” today was riding a flat pedaled cruiser bike along side Lauren’s 30 minute post pregnancy run.
Anger – Bike Path Rage
While I was pity pedaling behind Lauren on the bike path, some dude on a nice bike decked out in all his gear cruised by, looking all intense and in the zone. Instead of giving him the typical courtesy cycling nod…I said “f$%k you” under my breath. Damn it, I must really be angry! I’ve felt that way a fair amount lately, seeing people enjoy the beautiful summer on mountain bikes in Bend while I do core exercises in a gym. That’s not at all my style, but there’s a side of me that’s legitimately angry to be in this position.
Doubt and Fear – Messed Up Thoughts
It’s one thing to get a little angry, but the worst part is the side of my brain that projects this bad mojo into some seriously doubtful and depressing thoughts. Did I make the right choice to get surgery, or should I have just taken some down time and then rebuild into the season? Will my foot ever really be as good or better than it was?….Is my career over? There’s a sick piece of me – the same one that writes race reports WHILE racing – that sees the literary genius in a career that both begins and ends at Wildflower. It imagines people saying, “Yeah, I remember that Jesse Thomas kid. He made a brief splash on the scene. He showed some potential but he got hurt and never came back. I think he’s an insurance salesman now.” Man, the mind is pretty twisted, right? No offense, insurance salesmen.
Balancing Emotion with Logic – Birds in Your Brain
While my mind has an emotional side that can be pretty messed up and project me to bad places depending on how I’m feeling in the moment, it also has a logical side that reminds me of past experiences and puts things in perspective. My dad said negative thoughts are like birds in your brain, it’s ok for them to circle around, just don’t let them nest. See, I know, deep down inside, that I’ve been in this spot before, where things weren’t going as planned, a recovery was delayed, and the doubt was intense. And eventually, I got through it. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have accomplished what I already have. So this is normal. Life isn’t over. My career isn’t over. I’ll get through it like I have before, but that doesn’t mean the process is easy, and that I won’t experience the same fear and doubts again.
I spoke with Matt about some of these feelings and he said something that stuck with me – “You need to double down,” meaning double down on my patience. You see, I cruised through the first 6 weeks because they all went according to plan. It’s easy to stay patient and positive when all is going as expected. It’s when stuff gets messed up that you get tested. I need to double down on my patience, and reset my expectations.
In all honesty, there was a piece of me – again, the same one writing stories during the process – that believed, if everything went according to plan, I just might be able beat expectations and race 70.3 Worlds. Ha! I know it sounds ludicrous, but I was told 12 weeks to running, and my brain said, Well, 16 weeks to Worlds means if I stay fit, I get 4 weeks of running in and who knows!?! Wouldn’t that just blow the expectations away! What an incredible comeback story that would be!
Obviously, that’s not going to happen, and really, I never should have let that thought into my brain. But it’s that dreaming that enables me to accomplish great things when the stars do align.
It Takes Time & It’ll Get Better
Regardless, it’s obvious I need to reset my expectations and double down. While the planned recovery is 12-14 weeks, I know from experience that recovery from major injuries always takes an extra 50-100% the time the doctors estimate. In fact, I wrote that exact thing in a Triathlete Magazine article that will be published this month. So listen to yourself, A-Hole! I should give myself 20+ weeks to really come back from this thing. Don’t be so hard on yourself and just let it happen.
Bottom line is, I know deep down that I’m going to get better, that it’s eventually going to work out, and I’ll eventually be stronger and faster than I ever have. I really, 100% believe that will happen. But I also have to be realistic and say that it will probably take longer than I hoped, and I have to let my mind and body recover at it’s own pace. Patience, dude. Patience.
Thanks Pearl Izumi for the video interview & support during the recovery. I talk a bit about getting injured, how it sucks, and some other stuff that’s actually pretty awesome.