Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let's Get Ready to RUMBLE!!!

Okay, not really, that saying is for boxing and wrestling.  I don't do that.  But I like the way it sounds!

I went back to the doctor last week and he released me to train!!!  I'm certainly not 100% yet.  I have technical "full range of motion" but not MY full range, and not what I need for a strong swim.  I also have to start back as if I am a new beginner.  However, he told me, "you are as good as you could even possibly be right now.  It is not possible for you to be any better."  I thought he was giving me a know, comparing me to me (you can't be any better than you are because you aren't better than you are...); just making a play on words to make it sound positive and encouraging.  But then he added, "If you could see the patients I see, you would realize how far along you really are right now."  So, okay...I'll take it.  I did ask for, and receive an injection.  It hasn't been magic, but I believe it has helped a good bit.

Where I Am Now

I have been swimming a handful of times.  Tuesday I was able to "swim" for about 30 minutes, mostly doing drills with 350 front crawl yards interspersed throughout, mostly with fins but some without.  I was only able to swim 50 yards straights at most, but most intervals were 25 yard "laps".

I'm going back today.  The plan is to continue with drills being the bulk of the workout but I'll increase the yardage to 400 and my plan is to increase the number of 50y intervals as well.  I'll probably stick with the fins because it really takes pressure off the shoulder joint and allows me to move the arm much better.

I haven't been on my bike AT ALL since IMLT.  I've been teaching Spin 2-4 times a week for about six weeks.  I'm ready to see what happens on the road.  I'm not going to lie, I'm more than just a little nervous.  I do LOVE to ride my bike now, but 1) I haven't ridden in almost SEVEN MONTHS!!, and 2) I've seen way too many stories about people being hit by cars lately.  However, I refuse to live in fear of anything so I'm going to get my chain cleaned and greased and my tires pumped and get out there.  Maybe even today!

I been running about as much as I've been swimming.  The longest distance I've covered with walk/run intervals is 3.5 miles.  The longest distance I've run straight is just over 1 mile.  My shoulder does bother me when I run, but my legs are the biggest limiting factor right now.  There are muscles you use when you run, but you don't work them by running.  When those muscles aren't used or worked, they balk a little bit at being brought out early retirement!!  I've been thinking about those muscles for a couple of months, but I haven't done a lot to reignite them in preparation for a return to running.  So, that process will restart today!

Overall I'm pleased with how I feel when I run as far as my shoulder goes.

PT has been going VERY well.  I'm now working on aggressive strengthening and have been making progress every time I go.  Yesterday I did several new exercises and increased weight on some older ones.  It's the strangest feeling when I do hammer curls.  The right bicep tendon starts feeling fatigued and feels like the limiting factor for the move.  Because I don't have a tendon there in the left arm, I feel NOTHING on that side in that spot!!  STRANGE.

Overall, I am READY to get started.  The first race on the plan is Wet Dog on July 19 (or maybe Cotton Row 10K on Memorial Day-I haven't decided about that one yet).  I did fairly decent at this race last year, winning second in my age group.  My overall time was 1:04:something.  I would LOVE to beat that this year, but I'm fairly certain I was farther ahead of where I am now at this same time last year.  However, I was also actively fighting with a wonky shoulder.  My plan is to train hard and race hard and see what happens.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Too Much? Too Far?

How far is "too far"?  How much is "too much"?  Those are very subjective terms in my opinion.  I mean, really, how to you know how much farther you can go if you don't try to go there?

In training, you have to "over reach" so your body can become stronger.   The real key is knowing when to pull back.  When you continue to push, you will get hurt.  But, if you never push, you won't grow as an athlete.  There has to be a balance.

I like to say the balance is between the body and the mind.  If the body is too much in control, you generally won't push past your limits (setting new limits in the process).  The body will cry "uncle" long before it has really had enough.  Hard training "hurts".  But it's a good hurt.  This used to be very confusing for me (okay, it still is).  I have determined it's because I was out of "balance" for so long I really didn't know how to listen to my body in a healthy way.  I couldn't tell if the pain was a "work out pain" that would go away or an injury pain that was a signal for me to stop what I'm doing.  All I can say about that is if you haven't been in the practice of listening to your body, you will not understand what it's trying to tell you.  It's very much like trying to understand someone else's toddler speak!!

On the other hand, if your mind is too much in control you will generally push your body beyond it's breaking point to injury.  I think this is the result of the above (not listening to/understanding your body).  It's like the swing of a pendulum from one side of the clock to the other.  However, it can also be the result of someone who is trying to beat their body into submission.

I have a friend who is an avid athlete, who was injured (an acute/sudden injury) that required surgery.  That friend knew full well "they" weren't supposed to push "hard" but couldn't resist.  "They" pushed hard and got reinjured with a chronic type injury that can only be solved with a long period of rest.  "They" will not take time off.  "They" are increasing "their" chances of damaging "their" body long term.  And "they" don't care.  (I am certainly NOT "they"...I value my long term health way more than short term training.  Okay, at least slightly more.)

When there is not balance there is either injury, or failure to meet potential.  When you allow your body to be too much in control, you won't "over reach" and push your limits out from where they currently are.  Most people have not met their body's potential.  They have met the limit of their mind, or the limit of their ability to listen to their body complain!  They give in, give up, quit early, stop pushing...settle for less than they are capable of.  I get it.  It's hard, especially when you have let your body dictate your life.  But, "brats" can learn good behavior only through CONSISTENCY.

We have to learn where the fulcrum of this teeter totter is.  It's ironic, a pendulum in a clock has to swing from side to side for the clock to keep time.  This mind/body balance requires a pendulum that is very still in the middle, not swinging from one extreme to the other, in order for us to live healthy for a long time.

It's interesting to me...I have begun to learn what "too far" feels like.  Sometimes, like the other day at PT and the next day in the pool, I ignore it and allow my mind to tell my body "COME ON...IS THAT REALLY ALL YOU'VE GOT?  YOU CAN DO MORE THAN THAT!!!"  My body has developed a pretty strong voice that no longer sounds like a crying bratty toddler.  It sounds more like, "Okay...I'm telling you that's enough, but if you want to push, I'll push back."  I had a VERY MINOR set back in therapy and had to back off a few days.  But, I don't see it as a set back.  I see it as a confirmation.  When I thought to myself, "this feels like too much" and "I probably shouldn't be doing this"...I should have listened.

((Now...I know my mother reads my blog sometimes so I need to tell her, "I'm really fine.  I just pushed a TINY bit much and found a limit.  This is a really good thing, because it teaches me how to listen better.  You KNOW I need that!"))

People keep asking me how I tore my bicep tendon.  If I'm being 100% honest, I have to say it was overuse.  But, I can't help but thinking that it was really the bone spurs that caused the tear with normal's just my normal may not look like someone else's normal.  But, in my defense, there are other people who have a way more extreme normal that makes my normal look like nothing.

No one can answer the question "how far is too far to push your body" for you.  Only your body can answer that question.  And only your mind can hear it.  If you aren't sure which side of the spectrum you are on, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I perpetually injured? (yes...usually a sign your mind is in control)
  • Am I meeting what I believe is my potential (no...usually a sign your body is in control)
If you still aren't sure, read this post about my "bratty body" and see if you can relate.

Until next time...  :D

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I seriously can't remember the last time I was able to get a full night's sleep.   I'm sure it has happened since the surgery, but I can't remember it.  Well...until last night that is!!

I think three factors came into play.  In no particular order they are:

1) I did some "PT" right before I got into bed.  My physical therapist (Todd Hayes at Johnson and Hayes) has told me movement and strength are the things needed to get rid of the pain and get me back to doing the things I want to do.  So, I did some stretches and general movement (basically arm swings) right before I got into bed.

2) We sold the cloud we've been sleeping on.  Four and a half years ago my husband and I bought a new generic memory foam mattress.  It wasn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't Tempur-Pedic and it was on the softer side of the spectrum.  I loved it.  It was like sleeping on down.  The problem was that after four and half years, the bed had developed a bit of Alzheimer's (it had no memory).  I never really noticed but my husband, who would probably prefer to sleep on a  ROCK, did.  So last week we ordered a new mattress (a Tempur-Pedic that will allow me to sleep on a cloud and my sweet husband to sleep on a rock).  Yesterday, we sold the dementia plagued puff box.  We were going to sleep on the guest bed, but it is currently covered with yard sale stuff.  Instead we pulled out the air mattress.  It's a nice one and was considerably more firm than the cloud.  I don't know if the firmness of the sleeping surface had anything to do with the quality of my sleep, but it was a change, so it made the list.

And, last, but certainly not least...

3) I slept with a pillow under my arm.  A friend of mine who had shoulder surgery last year told me that's what she does to keep from waking up in pain.  (Her procedure was different, but I think the reason it's hurting now is just stiffness in the joint, which would be the same for both of us.)  I don't exactly understand the physiology behind why that would work, except that it's probably like the pillow in the sling I was chained to for eight weeks; it just puts space in the socket.  (That's a guess.)

I'm aware this is an ad for alcohol, and their meaning is not mine, but challenge is the fertilizer of a great life!!  We remember the bumps in the road, not the smooth sailing!!
I did actually wake up three times in the night.  (I think that was all my better half's "fault".)  However, instead of being in tremendous pain (as usual), I was able to go back to sleep two of the three times and only got up the third time because it was legitimately MORNING!!!!!  The sun was coming up and everything!!!  GLORIOUS MORNING!!!

To make things even better, it didn't take nearly as long this morning to get down to a comfortable level of discomfort.  Most mornings I am convinced that I should either call the dr as soon as their office opens, or maybe just start driving to Birmingham right then, because something has gone terribly WRONG.  You would think I would be used to the routine by now, but I am an "in-the-moment" kind of gal (in case you didn't know that already!).

Speaking of "in-the-moment"...Thursday I had a moment that caught me completely off guard.  I was sitting at lunch and my friend asked me how my shoulder was doing and I realized that not only did it not hurt right then, I didn't even NOTICE it...I wasn't even AWARE of it...I couldn't even FEEL it!!!  It was GLORIOUS to feel like a normal person after a year and a half of being in a continuum of "aware of it" up to "wow that hurts so bad I think I want it cut off to stop the pain!".    (I wish I was kidding...)

I think it will be a long while before I'm not aware of it more than I am on the other 99% of the spectrum, but for now I'll take sleeping through the night!!

Until next time...  :D