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18 Weeks Post Op – The Good and the Bad

Heyo Crazy Ass Fans! Seriously sorry for the long delay. While it’s been awesome to be back training again, one of the disadvantages is that I have waaaay less time to fulfill the aching, ravenous needs of my DOZENS of fans. But, I’ve finally succumbed to the pressure in my brain and wrote and update, behold! (I also answered all your comments on my previous post, thank you so much for the awesome support. I promise to answer comments on this one ASAP!).

If you're interested, I've made my entire training log public for this recovery process. Just click the image to see it.

I’ve made my entire training log public for this recovery process. Just click the image. You can also follow my workouts on Strava.

I’ve decided to title this update, the Good and the Bad. Yes, there are some aspects of my recovery that I’m not stoked about, which unfortunately stay in the forefront of my mind most of the time and bum me out. During those times, it’s hard to remember that progress has been made, and in the big picture, things are ok. So when I’m feeling down, I try to balance my Bad with my Good, to remind myself that I’ve come a long way, and while I’m not where I want to be yet, I’m progressing. Ultimately, that’s all that matters, and that’s all that you really can expect from your body. So here it is, in no particular order, the Good and Bad of 18 weeks Post Operation.

Good – My foot is getting a lot stronger. I’ve been hopping, box jumping, calf raising, foot scrunching, crazy 4 dimensional balance boarding and everything else you can think of like a crazy ass fan screaming for Jesse Bieber. I can see lots of progress, it’s obvious, and I’m getting really really close.

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.19.27 PM

First jumping at Rebound. Beware, full video shows massive pit sweat and is not suitable to post meal viewing.

Bad – But…I’m not running, or at least not consistently, yet. This obviously, is the only real bummer of the blog. I’m at 18 weeks, and was hoping I’d be running by 14 weeks or so. 10 days ago, I was feeling great, hopping and bounding up stairs pain free, etc. I got the ok to try 5 x 1 min run with 1 min walk recovery. I tried, and it hurt…It hurt enough that I decided it was best to stop at 4. I went in to Rebound Performance Lab and did some test exercises with Jay and sure enough, he said it just isn’t strong enough yet. The pain isn’t from anything related to the injury I had before or the surgery itself, it’s just still weakness and pain in my posterior tib tendon, which is taking its damn sweet time to get stronger and free of inflammation. It’s amazing to me that you can be so strong and pain free doing almost anything, yet running still makes something hurt. NUTS! It just shows you why so many people hurt themselves running, the forces on your body are ridiculous, and really can’t be simulated by anything else.

Good – Running is super close, and let’s just say that I’ve done my first run. I retried the same 5 x 1 min run with 1 min walk recovery on Friday (9 days later), and while it wasn’t completely pain free, it was definitely better…and didn’t get worse. In fact, it was good enough that I was comfortable completing the set. I’d go as far to call it my first run, 5 x 1 min at about 9:00 pace. Booyah!

Good – I’m back swimming 100%. In fact, more than just swimming pain free, I’m swimming at a level that is at or near what I did in the middle of season. It’s cool to see that the years of consistency are backing up, and that I can be at a pretty good spot after just 6-8 weeks of semi consistent swimming.

Bad – Putting my hair into a swim cap has become an extra session every day. Seriously, it takes me 10-15 minutes and makes my arms really, really tired. Is there a secret, ladies? It’s getting ridiculous. Why do I keep it, you ask? Because freaking Jude loves to grab and play with it, and I’m scared that if I cut it he won’t know who I am.


This was 4 weeks ago. It’s even worse now.

Good – Just like the swim, I’m biking 100%. In fact, I’ve ridden about 30 hours in the last two weeks! And more than just racking up volume, I’ve done some workouts that I would have been happy with in the middle of the season – including solid climbs, double ride days, and some decent trainer sessions. In an act of surprising intelligence, Coach Matt has given me the same workout 3 times over the last 7 weeks on the bike (6×5 min build, then 3×14 min strong but controlled), and it’s been a great barometer to see my fitness increase. Because I’m a super dork, I plotted the results for you all to see. Progress!

Yellow is better than blue.

Yellow is better than blue.

Bad – It kind of sucked to watch 70.3 Worlds. Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome to see some of my friends in the sport do really well – I was particularly psyched for Joe Gambles, Leon Griffin, and Tim Reed, all great guys that had awesome races. But it was hard to watch guys that I was with at the beginning of the year do so well and not wonder about lost opportunities. Obviously, I don’t doubt my decision to have surgery and put everything off for a year, and to a certain extent it just added fire to my motivation to come back, but if I’m being super honest with myself and you, it was tough to watch it and bummed me out for a few days.

Good – I am an Elliptigo Beast. Seriously, I do it a lot, and I think it’s great cross training for running, probably the best there is. Bonus is that you get to turn heads everywhere you go, especially if you dress like me.

I don't even know where to begin with this photo. The creeper factor is outrageous.

I don’t even know where to begin with this photo. The creeper factor is outrageous.

Bad – I honestly can’t think of anything else bad. This is a gap filler bad.

Good – I’m riding my MTB a lot. Since I’m just getting back to running and racing this season looks like a long shot, I’ve used the opportunity to put a lot of miles on my mountain bike. Not only is it super fun, but I think it’s going to pay some dividends down the road (or trail? oh my god so funny). It works your legs in a different way, requiring big bursts of power and speed that a TT or road bike just doesn’t require. I think it’s making me stronger in new and improved ways. It’s making me the iOS Version 7 Jesse. Watch out world!

Where life is happiest.

My favorite office.

That’s it Crazy Ass Fans! Oh yeah one last announcement – I’m headed to Kona again next week. I’ll be there Monday through Sunday. I’m doing some bike rides for Specialized, some demos and appearances for ROKA, and some “man about town” reporting for Triathlete Magazine. I’ll be the guy with huge hair in aviators. More details to come, but if you’re in town say hi, I’ll likely have some Picky Bars with me. Laters!

38 comments to 18 Weeks Post Op – The Good and the Bad

  • Hollis

    Glad to hear the recovery is coming along well. You’ll be running in no time and that will come back to you quick. Also good to see a lil dirt on those mtb tires. Stay positive and hungry! I can’t wait to hear about your first race back at it.

  • Monica

    To get lots of hair in a swim cap, ponytail that sh*t. if it’s not quite long enough, pull the top section back into one elastic, and the back into another. Lauren can show you.

    Wet hair sometimes works better, and if you run a little teeny bit of conditioner through that wet hair and then put it in the cap, it pulls less and it keeps your hair from absorbing as much chlorine. Just don’t take the cap off in the pool and make the water all stank.

    Awesome job on the consistent work for your recovery. It’s pretty inspiring, especially for those of us who have been less consistent.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks for the tips! I’ll try that. I’ve had stuff in my hair before but it makes it more likely my swim cap will spontaneously slide off my head in the middle of a set. Who knew there was so much management involved in keeping a mane…

      • Haha, every girl ever, that’s who!

        I agree with everything Monica said about the hair but especially that your progress is inspiring! After a big great year last year, I’m working on a comeback too. I also get The Fired-Up followed by The Sads when I watch my friends compete. It sucks, but my mini-goal for the time being is to be more consistent and look forward to the possibilities next season. So, thanks for the read!

      • Jesse Thomas

        Consistency should be everyone’s major and mini goal. It’s what ultimately produces great performances. So anyway, your head is in the right place, and thanks for writing in, helps to know others are feeling similarly up and down. Good luck in your recovery!

  • In that Elliptigo pic, you look like a camp counselor from Wet Hot American Summer.

  • Hey Jesse, you and I have been following similar paths, for I am suffering a foot injury that has taken me away from running for the past 8 weeks AND this is my favorite time of year to run back here in the East. Many of my friends are running races and its hard to watch, so I know how you been feeling. I’ve been biking and swimming lots and just have my eye on the carrot, IM Lake Placid next July, my first full iron distance.
    I’m starting with a tri coach next week and she’s already wicked good for me; all kinds of stuff for my plantar; weight training, etc.
    So, I was similar to you (not nearly as cool and crazy ass), 20 years ago when we had our two girls, who are both in college now…day 36 of Empty Nest Syndrome. I still have my prescription aviators from that time and my hair was as curly and wild ass as yours…so rock on!! Your injury is a blessing for both you and Jude, so don’t fret; the time goes so quickly.
    Wishing you the BEST towards recovery and KICK ASS races in the future.
    Michael (we met at Poconos)

    • Jesse Thomas

      Michael, we need a picture of you in prescription aviators and curly ass hair. Hilarious! Thanks so much for writing in and appreciate the thoughts. I’ll stay on it, and yes, I do think it’s been awesome for both Jude and I to be able to hang out. Good luck on your IMLP prep!

  • Bernie Lean

    Serious Watts Bra!

  • JT

    One month post surgery to fix a torn pec, these blogs are giving me hope and keeping me sane.
    No swimming, biking or running; just bitching and moaning. Not so much time between blogs.

  • Jomo

    Hey Jesse, good to hear from you and thanks for the updates on how everything is going. That must have been tough to watch the 70.3 worlds. I was thinking of you. Boo-yah on the 5 x 1 — you’re back! Seriously though, you will be. Looking forward to future updates.

  • The elliptigo looks like fun, but I know nothing replaces the feeling of running! Hope you can pound the pavement (trails, track, etc) soon! Also, I second the ponytail, also wetting your hair first can help with the swim cap.

  • Joy

    Hi Jesse, I am a student trying to become a triathlete but also struggling with ankle/foot problems! The Tib. post. is the main problem for me although it wasn’t the original cause of my operation!! Its very frustrating so I can sympathise with you.

    I saw the video of you jumping and hopping and was wondering if you can advice me on any exercises to strengthen feet and ankles? I am so sick of ankle flexes with therabands and not sure if it even helps any more as I can do hundreds of reps!
    Great blog by the way and best wishes for your recovery.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Joy, thanks for writing in. Can’t answer too much through here, maybe I’ll get a list of all the stuff I do and/or did for one blog. But in general, I do a lot of eccentric exercises because they’re less likely to cause inflammation and will still build strength. Calf raises, lots of balance board and unstable surfaces stuff, scrunches with my feet to build arch strength, and eventually some hopping onto boxes and even unstable surfaces. My general guide is anything that you can do that doesn’t cause pain is good, and will eventually build strength. At least that’s what I hope! Good luck!

  • Just need the Arena Smartcap brothah man. Let me know if you want to order a few, check out the link:


  • Modest person… you’re KILLING it bro! You’re cycling and swimming will be better than it ever has when you start next season. Can’t wait to see what you’re able to at 70.3 worlds next year. Kienle will be running scared!


  • marian

    it looks like you are doing all the right things. very smart!

    no tips on the hair, mine is super short.

    see you in kona!

  • On average, how has rice cake PBJ and/or picky bar consumption changed with injury. Please give with average +/- standard deviation so I can have an accurate assessment of the total nut butter consumption pre and post injury.


    JK (although sorta curious if eating/appetite/sleep have changed) — Glad you’re on the up and up!

    • Jesse Thomas

      When I was not training much, PBJ probably decreased by 70-80% unfortunately. Picky bars decreased as well but still ate them for snacks, so not quite as bad. Now both are back up to pre injury levels. I seriously had 6 PBJ rice cakes and 12 Picky Bars yesterday (2 big bike rides). I am not exaggerating. Scary.

  • Samson?

    Yeah, you definitely don’t want to cut that fro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrECy98yriI.

  • Holly

    Thanks for the update Jesse – you always cheer me up. I think I made a note in one of your other blogs about 10 weeks ago after I’d been diagnosed with a stress fracture in my femur. Mine healed – I competed in IM Canada and refractured my leg at mile 20 of the marathon, yes I finished *and* PRd, but I’m now 3 weeks post op from 3 screws in the leg.

    Continue with the blogs, and advice that I probably will fail at following, those of us crazy ass fans sitting on our asses which are getting fat and out-of-shape need good entertainment. One of these days I need to find a Picky Bar to try!

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