Back On The Horse? Maybe A Pony…

The orthopedists have forbade me from running until at least next Thursday because of concerns about the impact affect proper healing of my collarbone. The plastic surgeons have forbade me swimming until at least tomorrow because I cannot submerge the scar tissue. I cannot swim. Yet. I cannot run. Yet. What I can do is bike. It must be inside since I have a small dissection in my right carotid that necessitates that I be on blood thinners for probably the next two months. But I can ride my bike on a trainer. I haven’t though. And it is because I am afraid I’m not able.

When I first was cleared to do some physical activity, I had, basically a choice between the stairmaster/stepmill and the elliptical. I was concerned that the elliptical might affect my running form, so I chose the stepmill, that being the rotating “staircase” that is quite similar to climbing a flight of stairs. And endless flight of stairs, but real stairs nonetheless. It felt great to pump my legs and get my heart rate up. And there as no real measurement that meant anything. I could do level “15 out of 20,” climb X flights or Y steps. The machine gave a value for wattage and for distance, but who knows what it was based on. I suspect that subconsciously, I liked that I could not “fail” at climbing stairs. I had no expectations for myself about what I was capable of, having never really climbed stairs before. And so I climbed away. But then I stopped about a week ago.

When you leave the hospital, there is a bit of an expectation – at least for me – of “you are free to go home now” meaning the same thing as “you are all better now.” But that is not the truth. I was not “all better” when I left. And when I was cleared to start exercising, it was – to me- the first steps (pun intended) on the road -or staircase – back to training, fitness, racing, and – most importantly – normalcy. But, like that staircase, that journey is indeterminately long. And doing stairmaster for “a while” just wore on me. Was it going to be five days of stairmaster? Or five weeks. And that – temporarily – dissuaded me. I’m planning to return tomorrow, because I really do miss it, indeterminate or not.

But I’m not yet ready to ride my bike. I’m not sure I’m ready yet to know what my “real” watts are. Stepmill watts are fun because they don’t matter. But my bike watts matter to me. And so I don’t think I want to know them. I tried to get back on the horse. But I think maybe I needed to start with a pony. And I think that I need to ride that pony for a while. And so I’m planning to ge on the pony, for as long as it seems right. I know I’ll get back on the horse. I’m just not sure that when I can is the same as when I’ll be able…

7 thoughts on “Back On The Horse? Maybe A Pony…

  1. After a couple of weeks of injury I had the same sort of feeling. Having a powermeter is great when healthy, but show a very crude reality when “coming back” from whatever we are coming back.

    I have taken out my powermeter for a couple of weeks until I was confortable with seeing those numbers again, whatever they were. (btw, covering the screen with tape does not help, you will rip it out on the second ride. I have tried…)

    Whether the pony or on the horse, its great that you are riding something =)

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  2. Good to hear your close to being able to slowly get back in it.. I understand how you feel about the stairs, after my surgery a month ago my doc said I could go on walks..he looked at me weird when I laughed at him..

    All the best Luck Jordan in your recovery and your endeavors for 2010!

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  3. Good luck man. I tore my ACL in college and thought it was the end of the world and I would never be the same. I am definitely better now than I was then. I also agree with Facundo and remove the power meter and just ride for the joy of riding.

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  4. 20 years ago I was in a severe car accident. At the time I was a gymnast and was trying to qualify for nationals that year so I was pushing hard working out six hours a day six days a week. The car accident left me with several broken bones including a broken pelvis and fractures to a number of facial bones. After being released from the hospital I weighed in at 85 lbs and was just shy of 5'10″. I could not walk upright, I couldn't eat solid food, and I still had 700 stitches covering my face and the inside of my mouth from lacerations. I drove to the gym the next day and did whatever I could, which was basically nothing. I kept going back every day. It took about 5 years for my pelvis to stop hurting but it eventually did (although it has caused muscle imbalances that I'm just becoming aware of that have lead to numerous running injuries). Even though I could not compete on floor or vault again I eventually reached a national NCAA ranking on the pommel horse 5 years later, which I am proud of. Just recently (March 4, 2010), I underwent reconstructive surgery on my facial bones to correct health issues caused by that same car accident 20 years ago. Now that my focus is on triathlon I can relate, somewhat, to your situation. I was able to work my FTP on my computrainer up to 265 watts before the surgery. 5 weeks after the surgery I was cleared for exercise and my estimated FTP at that time was about 150 watts. Now 3 weeks into training my estimated FTP is about 200 watts and I am gaining every day. Even though you are talking about a completely different level than I will ever be capable of I think the important thing is to never let anything defeat you. Just know that you have support and fans regardless of your abilities.

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  5. Jordan-You are a rock star! I cannot imagine what you must be going through, but through it you are going. Take your time. I hope you find strength when you need it and find comfort when you don't.

    Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
    Chinese Proverb

    Thank you for sharing.

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