Last January the snow was thick and wet during the first week of the year. Yet in a fit of cabin fever and thanks to some serious Manhattans on a Friday night, my companion Sue and I were talked into joining a crew of folks at the Sno Fun Run in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The race attracts a thousand or so people, and sends them all off in a herd into the snow and wind until they all turn around again.
The roads were awful. A combination of new slush and snow had fallen, but no one seemed to care. The winners still came tearing past us on the return trip of the out and back course. Each was fighting for footholds on the thin sections of road where the snow was scraped away.
After the top runners passed us, I did a stupid thing. In a fit of coltish behavior and semi-youthful vigor, I hurdled a tall orange cone pretending, as it were, that I still had some steeplechase talent in me.
So Not. My knee reverberated like a bad brass gong inside. Only the downing of four Rumchattas (or whatever they’re called) when I finished
the race kept me from worrying about the knee. Then we drank and drank the rest of the day. And that was fun. And produced some awesomeness far from the madness of running.
And then it was time to return to reality.
It would take six weeks for the knee to heal. At first, I wondered if the knee would recover at all. There is no ACL in that knee thanks to the fact that I tore it once playing soccer, and had it repaired. Two years later I tore it again and did not look back.
So it was with a shiver of initial fear that I gingerly felt the knee. It took a full week to be able to run again. It was a bit swollen and greasy inside. Yet I recognized those sensations from having rehabbed the leg before. It would take some strength work to build the support muscles and ligaments back again. Essentially the injury just “loosened” the joint, and that takes some time to knit back together.
The frustrating part of the injury was the fact that I’d mapped out a program to lose some weight last winter by running. All of us have our body challenges. Mine centers in a layer of belly fat that typically builds up during the holidays. It’s all from excess carbs. And also age. And a slower metabolism. Yet that fat around my middle is still shocking to me. I was once so thin that a nurse measuring my 3% body fat told me not to get caught in the rain. At that measurement, there were times when I wasn’t even all that healthy. Hard training left me with colds and overuse injuries. But I was fast. So there’s that.
That’s life. Tradeoffs. Transitions. Change. You gotta deal with it. That’s exactly why I started cycling more than a decade ago, and why I’m swimming now. To combat possible letdowns caused by injury. And, to build a body based around sustainable strength. There’s more than one way to get around the tarsnakes of injury and sloth. Cross-training is the key to long term health.
So last winter I retreated to the gym during the running layoff, and used the pool a bit for rehab. But all told, it was an ignominious start to the year. I had to lay low with the injured knee, and go slow. You all know how much “fun” that is. When you want to get up and go, and can’t.
That means there is a singular resolution that needs to be made going into 2016. No hurdling anything, in a physical sense at least. Life throws enough hurdles at you without creating them for yourself on a snowy road on a January day.