Monday, May 11, 2009

Ankle test two, White Lake 1/2 IM

This Saturday I competed in and finished the White Lake 1/2 IM (more on that suffer-fest in another post), the second big test for my recovering ankle. I signed up for the race two days after my injury--having the goal of finishing that race, four months out, provided extra motivation for my recovery.
After two days of staying off my feet, icing and elevating my ankle I decided to get up and get moving. Even though I could not run for six weeks I was determined to make the best of the situation, focusing on other aspects of my fitness. First stop was the pool where I swam easy with a pull buoy for 20 minutes--the water was very therapeutic for my ankle and I was feeling better already.
I was on crutches with my ankle immobilized (with two completely torn ligaments this was to allow scar tissue to form to stabilize the joint) as I still could not put any weight on the ankle. The boot provided solid support and protection so I headed to the weight room. Upper body and core exercises were no problem and I was able to do some single leg exercises with my right leg (curls, extensions and calf raises). My goal for the next several weeks was to work on my swim (had to slowly build duration since I pulled all the workouts) and build strength.
After a week of this, I was able to ditch the crutches and walk in the boot. I then hit the pool for deep water running. As with the swimming (pulling) I eased into these sessions, starting with 20 minutes easy and building to one hour for my "long run." Other key workouts included 30/30's where I would warm-up easy and then go 30 seconds hard and 30 seconds easy, building up to 20 repeats. Another workout that I did once per week was 20/10's. I would warm-up and then go 20 seconds hard and 10 seconds easy for a total of 8 repeats. After 10 minutes easy I would repeats the set and then warm-down. This mix of easy endurance building workouts and interval training kept up my "run fitness."
The Deep Water Running was my savior--with planned workouts and a water-proof MP3 player the sessions went by very quickly--I still hit the pool at least once per week for a recovery run. Check out this article for more information on DWR:
After two weeks in the pool, I saw a huge reduction in the swelling of my ankle--it was still very sore but improving. The start of the third week I saw the doctor again and he said that I could begin therapy in a couple of days. He gave me a different ankle brace to begin using around the house, but out and about, I still needed to wear the boot. He said that once the therapist saw and evaluated me, I would have a much better idea on when I could begin any weight bearing activities (cycling, elliptical etc).
I was ready to start working with the therapist and moving on to the next stage of my recovery.
Following doctor's orders, staying active (focus on what you can do and don't bum-out about what you cannot do), listen to your body (if it causes discomfort or pain, stop!) are all key when dealing with and recovering from an injury. There is light at the end of the tunnel....

Monday, May 4, 2009

A long successful recovery

Last weekend I competed at the Short Course Duathlon National Championships in Richmond, VA. My goal for the race was to secure a spot to compete at the upcoming World Duathlon Short Course Championships this September in Concord, NC. The race was a success and I qualified for the team, finishing in 10th place in my age-group (45-49). More of a victory for me was the fact that I was just able to start and finish the race--on January 14th I rolled my ankle on a trail run and completely tore 2 ankle ligaments, partically tore the third and bruised my talus bone. In a boot and unable to walk without crutches for two weeks just being able to run again was my only thought....
Often an injury of this nature can completely derail a season; but, if handled correctly, both physically and mentally, athletes can recover and be better for it in the end.
In my next couple of posts I will talk about how I handled this set-back and turned it into a positive experience.