Podcast Ep. 12 – Welcome Back, Dingbat

So THIS Is Fitness Podcast episode 12

Podcast Ep. 12 – Welcome Back, Dingbat.

Every once in a while the universe has to remind us that yes, we do in fact live in the real world. There are rules you play by, things you do and do not do. Even if you can achieve something as incredible as a 100 mile endurance run finish…a half-marathon can still take you down under the right circumstances (i.e. if you’re being stupid). Simple rules do still apply – they are, after all, RULES.


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Thanksgiving – The Triumphant Return

Hard work and a positive attitude will get you everywhere.

It’s been 8 weeks since surgery…& in one more week I’ll be returning to the starting line for my first “race” since I broke my knee. That’s 9 weeks since surgery…I move quick ;). 
The race I chose for my triumphant return is probably one of the most historic, scenic 5K turkey trots you could ask for…right where it all started for USA – the Plymouth Thanksgiving Day Pilgrim 5K. 

So there’s that. I’m also already getting myself lined up for a BIG 2015…and a few someones have taken notice…

Recovery is hard. It’s been a challenging road, and I’m relieved to be coming out the other side. I understand just how fortunate I am that my broken knee wasn’t worse & didn’t come with soft tissue damage (like a torn ACL). Thanks to a kick-ass orthopedic surgeon, a little guidance from a physical therapist, and a LOT of grit and determination, I managed 2 miles on the treadmill yesterday. 
Started with a walk, worked up to a jog, and before I knew it I was working a 12 minute mile. Not bad for 2 weeks off the crutches.
My first goal was to be able to do the Jingle Jog – a Christmas 5K in my town on Dec. 6th. Then I got ambitious and decided to shoot for a turkey trot. Literally everyone I told looked at me like I was insane. So, naturally, I worked harder to defy the odds.

And then yesterday happened, affirming for me that I’m good to go.
So what about this turkey trot?
Well, this race seems to be pretty great. It’s put on by Plymouth Rock Racing and takes place in just about the GREATEST place for a Turkey Trot – Plymouth, MA (y’know, home of the ORIGINAL Thanksgiving?). 
This course is a nice little flat & fast 5K along the oldest road in the country – Old Sandwich Road. It’s an out-and-back with the turnaround at “the other rock” in Plymouth – Sacrifice Rock. What is it? Apparently a very old Native American religious site. Pretty cool. This course is very scenic – I ran along Old Sandwich Rd for the Winter Warlock 5K. I loved it covered in snow and I’m sure I’ll love it in the throes of late fall/early winter. New England…love/hate relationship…
FUN FACT – There’s also a 5 mile turkey trot that very same morning. Yes, two turkey trots – one morning (pretty sure Plymouth is the only town in America with two turkey trots same day). Do both and it’s the Second Helping Challenge. I WAS planning on doing that…then I broke my knee. 
The 5 miler happens across town by the waterfront. It’s actually a really great course and I’m pretty bummed I’m not participating. You run by about 5 major historic sites, including the Mayflower II, the Forefathers Monument, and Plymouth Rock. That’s kind of Plymouth Rock Racing’s M.O. though…with the history and beautiful courses and whatnot. (More on that another day)
If you’re still looking for a turkey trot and you’re anywhere near Plymouth…register for this race. Turkey trots are a dime a dozen, so why not do one (or two!) that’s steeped in history along a beautiful course?
I mentioned I’m getting set up for 2015…
After putting in WORK on a ridiculous 2014…some people have taken notice. Within the next week (I think) I’ll be one of 6 athletes featured in Health Warrior’s “Conquer 2014” series, and…*dramatic pause*…
Cape Cod Nutrition Corner will be announcing me as the newest addition to their Sponsored Athlete Team! You heard it here first 🙂 Can’t keep me down.
Just goes to show, like I said before, hard work and a positive attitude will get you everywhere. See you at the starting line.

Attitude Is Everything

Well, recovery is going great. It feels like it’s been about a million years, and sometimes I feel like I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like to walk on my own two legs…but I’m almost out the other side of this.

It’s been almost 6 weeks since surgery. This week I start working my way off the crutches. Victory. I’ve been doing my best to set myself up for success this whole time, from “Moment Zero” with the injury all the way through now. Proactivity and a positive attitude have gotten me pretty far. Attitude can make or break you. And I don’t just mean dealing with injuries…

It’s easy to give up. 

You’re injured…that’s it, I’m ruined, I’ll never be the same. 
You stopped going to the gym for 3 weeks…I can’t show my face there again. 
You got a divorce…I’m already THAT undesirable, working out won’t help anything.
You haven’t started…It’s never worked, it’s never stuck, and it’s never going to. Why bother?
The list goes on.

Any of these could plant you firmly on the couch never to be seen again…it’s all about what you do next. Do you take the high road and plan for 5 steps from now, or do you wallow in the misery of the moment? 
Many of the greatest achievements of our time would not have happened if someone had given up. You simply can’t let a bad attitude get the best of you. Michael Jordan failed so many times it made his head spin…but how many people are wearing Air Jordans today? Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4 years old…and…well, I think we know how THAT turned out. Get my point?

Focus on the positive. Focus on what will drive you. Is it your family? Is it loved ones? Is it a particular goal? Is it doing something for you? Whatever it is, find it, focus on it, and let it push you to achieve things that would otherwise be forever out of your grasp. Need some motivation from the outside? Seek friends who will empower you. If you need it, there is a support system just waiting for you to call on it.
You are bigger than this…whatever “this” may be. Every victory you can claim is important, even the little victories that seem insignificant. 
At 5 weeks out of surgery I was on a stationary bike working my knee. At just under 6 weeks, I’m already gearing up to start really hitting the gym hard. I’m already planning my next race. Attitude is everything, and my attitude is that I’m getting back into it as fast as I can. 
Broken bones heal, torn muscles mend, cuts, scrapes, bruises…they vanish in an instant…but a broken spirit might not – and that’s what negativity brings. I don’t let it get there. I’m through being beaten down. Now, I will not be broken. When I fall, I will get back up stronger than before. This is my personal victory every single day. Find Your Victory…and embrace it.

Breaking Point …Literally

This has got to be the single most frustrating thing that has happened to me in recent memory.

For those who may not have read, I finished the Spartan Beast at Mt. Killington, VT (their World Championship course)…but long story short I broke my knee in the process. Now, I’m left with the aftermath – recovery, healing, and attempting to live daily life pretty much without the use of my left leg (for 6 – 12 weeks). 
Today marks the halfway point through my “initial recovery”…but man…I’ve about had it. 

(Forewarning – some pictures in this post might be slightly…gross.)

Injury sucks.  I really don’t know how else to put it. For those who have had to deal with it, I’m sure you understand. For those who haven’t…be glad.

For “Average Joe” an injury is a big fat inconvenience… but as a fitness freak and a runner this is about a million times worse. But…before I launch into a rambling tirade…

So, what actually HAPPENED?

The Beast was about 16.5 miles long. I went up ~6,500 ft and down ~6,500 ft. I must’ve done around 200 burpees (maybe more). It took me 10 hours 16 minutes. By the time I got to the very end – the Fire Jump – I was pooped. I’m talking a level of honest-to-God exhaustion I didn’t know existed. I saw the finish. I ran. I leaped. I hurdled myself over those burning logs like I was about to win the Boston Marathon. It was right there…I was FINALLY about to finish!

Unfortunately, the last bit of strength I had went into the lift-off….and I had nothing left for the landing.

Do me a favor – stand up (yes, right now) and jump. Notice how when you land you bend your legs and kind of shock-absorb yourself?

Yeah…that didn’t happen for me.

So, when I landed, my femur (thigh bone) took my full weight plus my momentum and hammered it directly down into my tibia (calf/shin bone). My “medial tibial plateau” (the top side of the tibia facing the other leg) cracked under the pressure.

I now have a titanium plate in my left leg. It has some lovely screws and elegant swelling to go with it. From date of surgery I’m looking at 6 weeks until I can bear weight on the leg and an estimated 12 weeks until I’m running races unrestricted.

So here I am.

In the grand scheme of things, it could be a lot worse. I could have soft tissue damage (ACL, MCL, etc). My knee could be really, really damaged and require much longer to heal. I could be looking at never running againBut it’s not, it doesn’t, and I’m not. I got lucky.

And instead of being grateful, I’m whining.

Why? Because I’m useless. Because I FEEL useless. I have to use crutches to get around, so I can’t really carry things. Sure, I can throw on a backpack, sling my laptop bag and my lunch bag on…but then my balance is so whacked I fall over if someone breaths on me the right way. I can’t do so many of the things I took for granted 4 weeks ago.

I feel like an incredible burden on those around me – my friends and family who are helping me out immensely during this challenge. My poor wife…the “in sickness and in health” clause got invoked WAY before either of us expected.

And to top it all off, I can’t run or work out! 

I am a runner, a fitness freak, and a gym manager. I go to work 5 or 6 days a week and stare at treadmills I can’t run on. I see weights I can’t lift. I see all my members doing what I want to leap up and do. It’s maddening.

It makes the little victories and the progress difficult to appreciate.

My swelling has gone down. I can get through the day-to-day without painkillers (not even Tylenol!). I can rest my foot on the ground enough to balance myself (but no more weight than that).

Yesterday I even had a major milestone:  I hit 90 degrees range of motion.

But as soon as I’m done celebrating, its not long before I’m reminded of the frustrations. Y’know, when I can’t carry the coffee pot to the sink to fill it with water.

I know this will pass. Before I know it I’ll be weight-bearing and then it’ll be leaps and bounds and I’ll be cycling, on the elliptical, and then back on the road. Until then, I need to focus on the progress, the little victories, and my rehab plan. I have to figure out how to workout once I’m cleared to weight-bear.

Focus on the positives. My leg and my body may have found their breaking point, but I can’t let my spirit and my mind find theirs. I will come back from this stronger and smarter than before.

After everything I’ve been through, nothing is going to keep me down.

The Trouble With Leg Day

So as I sit here, waiting for the basement workout space to free up, I’m reflecting that in less than a month I’m supposed to be running the Falmouth Road Race, the big race I’ve been working up to since March when I first started running, and I can only go for training runs about one day a week. Why? Leg Day. That’s why.

See, the trouble with Leg Day is…it’s deceptive. During, its miserable – stumbling to my water bottle after putting the weights down. After, my legs are Jell-O as I try to ascend Mt. Everest to take a shower. But after that…I’m fine! I feel great. Why not go for a run?

Then tomorrow happens.

Because you’re not going to be all that sore ON Leg Day. No, no. Tomorrow you’ll be sore. After you thought it was a good idea to add in a run, too. I have made this mistake, and I have learned.

Why is Leg Day so damn awful?

Just like any other workout, you’re not REALLY gonna feel it until the next day. So why does it ache SO much when you get there?

Leg Day seems to require the most recovery time of any workout I’ve done – not just strength training, but workouts period. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say its because they don’t get to rest unless you sit. Think about it – every day for 16 (or more) hours a day your legs cart you all over creation. Even when you’re not going anywhere, they’re still holding you up. But once a week, when that just wasn’t enough, we pound on them even harder in the spirit of fitness. During sets, they’re on fire. Between sets, they’re still on fire as you stumble to get water and write down your weights. It’s a relentless pounding. I usually have to wait until the second or even third day after a serious Leg Day workout to be able to go on a run. I’m sure there’s a more scientific “factual” answer, but…I did say I’m not a professional, right?

The trouble with Leg Day is…its frickin’ hard! That’s probably why so many people don’t do leg day, or don’t do it right. It’s also easy to hurt your back or knees on Leg Day (but that’s a topic for another blog post).

When all is said and done, the trouble with Leg Day is it’s a lot of hard work that knocks out your legs for a couple days. Nevertheless…

****UPDATE 7/18/13 1:35 pm****
A fitness friend tipped me off that apparently the whole “it doesn’t hurt till tomorrow” thing is a legitimate condition called Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness.


 See, we’re learning together!