A Knee and a Spartan

Last year around this time, I started having trouble with my left knee. It hurt if I knelt on it and after a few weeks, would hurt terribly if I sat with my leg bent for any length of time. Weeks passed and it got worse, and worse, and worse… By September, I had to hang on tight to a handrail in order to get up and down flights of stairs, and even that was getting difficult. I was taking elevators and handicap ramps to spare myself the pain. Straightening my leg after sitting for even a short period of time became agony.

I mentioned it to my chiropractor, who tried a few adjustments first. They did nothing. Then he recommended me to the physical therapist who worked in his office.

I was beginning to dread that I’d torn some tendon or something in my knee (my mom tore her ACL when I was a teen and ended up with 2 surgeries and an terrible recovery time). I stressed and worried over my meeting with the PT.

That appointment came and Curtis had me give him a detailed breakdown of when my pain had happened and how it felt, then poked and prodded and twisted and bent my knee.

His prognosis was somewhat heartening. I had some tissue buildup under my kneecap. He had an actual name for what was wrong, but I forget what it was now, but basically when I sat, that tissue was getting compressed into my joint, which was causing most of my pain. Because I began favoring that leg, the muscles had grown weaker and it had gotten worse because of that.

No torn ACL, thank goodness. No surgery needed. Just some physical therapy.

… … yay…

So I started going in a couple times a week, first getting my knee area massaged by one of the two PTs that worked in the office, then getting into very simple exercises (starting with just bending and straightening my leg while sitting, which was stupidly hard to do). And ice. Lots and lots of icing my knee.

I started attempting squats after a week or two. Couldn’t do that without pain. Even riding the bike to warm up was difficult.

But, little by little, I saw improvement. The squats started getting more painless. I started to be able to do single-leg squats on the bad knee.

Then I’d slip on ice, or my dog would collide with my bad knee, and I’d be set back a few weeks while my joint recovered from the unexpected.

Last week, I had my last PT appointment. My knee is pretty much 100%. I still get a vague ache every so often, but it’s not tied in with anything sitting or standing.

More importantly, having a functioning knee again has helped me to decide that things need to change. I’m about 100 lbs overweight and that’s been causing other health issues.

About the time my knee first started bothering me, a few friends of mine ran this thing called a Spartan race. I saw pictures and while my husband laughed and said it was insane (and I didn’t disagree), there was a little part of my brain that wanted to do a Spartan race. I used to be able to run a 5K and I always loved obstacle courses as a kid. When the knee went, I pretty much figured I’d never run again, much less do a Spartan race.

Now, though?

About a month ago, I was at a ladies get-together with my best friend. At the table next to us were our friends who’d been doing the Spartan race. A bunch of them had their Spartan t-shirts on. My friend and I started talking about the Spartan and I said that now that my knee was better, I was tempted to start looking into training for one. She said, “Want company?”

So her and I have started running. Because she doesn’t have the 100 extra pounds to lug around, she was able to jump into one of the Couch-to-5K programs. I took one look at those and laughed. I haven’t run in at least 10 years. Most of those programs are WAY more than I can physically do right now. But I found one called None-To-Run, designed for the very out of shape who want to start running. Even the first week’s exercise of 30 seconds of running was more than I could do, so I spent the first time just briskly walking laps around my acre yard while my children played. Then I was able to run for 30 seconds and walk for two.

Now I’m 3 weeks in, and I finished the official ‘Week 2’ of the program. I ran for 1 minute and walked for 2 today (plus an extra 5 minute cool-down walk because I misjudged how far to go before I turned around to head home). Seven minutes of total running in my 30 minute workout. I figured I got about 2 miles.

You know what? I feel better than I did a month ago. I’m sleeping better. I’m not as hungry (weird…). I noticed that I’m carrying myself differently. My posture is straighter, or something. I feel taller. I’m eating better, though not strictly following any program on my eating, so I’m still eating junk when the mood strikes.

Scale says a difference of about 5 lbs, but I know I’m building muscle in addition to losing fat, so I’m not paying attention to the scale right now. Supposedly my scale measures BMI as well, but I doubt how accurate it is since it’ll give me multiple different numbers each time I weigh myself.

Each Saturday, my friend and I meet up to run “together,” each at our own pace. We’ve run a popular local trail together, and we’ve done laps around my yard when I wasn’t able to leave the house because of kids. Knowing that she’s running too helps me to be motivated to not skip my solo workouts.

There’s a 5K coming up the first weekend in August. I ran it before… I think in 2001. If I can keep with the program, I should be about able to run those 3 miles by then. I’m going to do it, because nothing motivates me better than external deadlines.

Next year in May is the Montana Spartan Sprint. By next year, I should be able to run the 3 to 5 miles and have the strength to complete the obstacles. I’ve got another exercise program I’ll start implementing when I finish None-To-Run. I’ll be ready in a year.

Who knows, maybe in a couple years, I’ll be ready to go for a Spartan Trifecta.

It’s not writing related, yet, it kinda is. Poor health and poor self-esteem can do a lot to a writer. Writing’s on a bit of a back burner right now, but in the last few weeks, I’ve found my mind drifting back to those unfinished writing projects. The energy and drive to finish them is coming back from wherever it’s been for the last few months.

Maybe that obnoxious Muse of mine is drawn to running?



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