Fitness, Goals, Personal, Yoga

Getting it Together

One day near the end of August I woke up with my knee throbbing.

I decided to stay home and rest. I grabbed some ice and propped my knee up and watched terrible daytime television and cried.

By 2 pm, I was bored. So I got up and drove myself to Crocheron Park, where I sat by the pond and finished reading Daring Greatly.

Then I walked over to the Bayside Marina and kept walking. And walking. Until I stood underneath the approach to the Throgs Neck Bridge. Then I turned around and walked back.

My knee still hurt. But not as much as it had when I first woke up. And I realized: I had tried to protect myself from the knee pain by being as sedentary as possible. What I’d done, instead, was pack on an extra five pounds, which my knee definitely couldn’t take. I know five pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but I am just over five feet tall, and, at the time, weighed more than I had ever weighed before– over 147 pounds.

In the eight weeks since I took that walk along Little Neck Bay, I’ve shed 11.4 pounds. I resolved to move my body in some way, at least six days a week. I began tracking my food intake with an application on my iPhone (Lose It!), and I dug up the Polar Heart Rate Monitor my sister gave me last Christmas to track my calories burned with every work out. And so I’ve fallen into a comfortable routine. Mondays and Wednesdays, I work out at home. I do one of my Jillian Michaels DVDs (usually No More Trouble Zones because it is ROUGH), then follow up with an hour of incline walking on the treadmill I bought three years ago (which has only been used sporadically up until now). Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do cardio at the gym  (typically a StairMaster/elliptical combo since I have the treadmill at home. I do at least 30 minutes, but usually closer to an hour), then go to my regular 90-minute Hot Vinyasa Flow class. Fridays, I go to the gym for my favorite, leg day. Saturday is whatever I feel like doing– most of the time I’ll walk around my neighborhood, or do my Butt Bible dvd plus a yoga class.  This is the most consistent I’ve been about working out since I was still in law school, and routinely shirked my study duties by spending hours at the gym. My consistency has paid off.

My knee feels so much better now. Without the extra weight, there’s less pressure on the joint. And all the strength-building I’ve been doing has helped stabilize my patella so it doesn’t slide all over the place and get compressed when I bend the knee.  I spent 30 minutes on the StairMaster yesterday and my knee feels totally normal. So it occurred to me– why can’t I run?

I want to run again. I miss it terribly.  I never thought I’d miss it, but I do. As always, I don’t want to hurt myself again. So I will wait until I am under 130 pounds, and then I will start the Couch to 5k program. When I weighed myself yesterday, I was 135.8. My 31st birthday is in three weeks. My goal is to do the first day of the program the weekend after my birthday. It’s time.

And now I’m off to the gym!

Fitness, Yoga

Notes on Overcoming Injury

feet of a running woman


The last time I ran was during a physical therapy session in October.

My therapist said I was getting stronger, and he wanted to test out my bum knee.  I had been in physical therapy for my patellofemoral pain syndrome for nearly three months by that point, but I was skeptical. I didn’t think my knee was ready.  He set me up on the treadmill:  a brisk walk for ten minutes, then a slow jog for five.  While I warmed up, he went around visiting his other clients.  He came back and watched me jog for three minutes.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Fine,” I replied.  My knee didn’t hurt.  I didn’t feel any tightness, grinding, or locking.  I smiled. He smiled back.

“You’re not even out of breath,” he said.  He increased the treadmill’s  speed slightly.  I picked up the pace and felt the sweat begin to trickle behind my ears.  He smiled again, and then went off to assist an older woman with a shoulder injury.

While he was gone, I grinned to myself in excitement.  Soca was blaring in my ears.  My feet connected with the belt in a perfect, pounding, familiar rhythm. I had missed that rhythm more than I ever thought I could.

I was so caught up in my running reverie that my therapist’s sudden appearance startled me, and I nearly stumbled.  I caught myself, though, and laughed as he brought the treadmill’s speed down to a slow walk.

“You look excited,” he said.

“I am!”  I smiled so hard my sole, very fickle dimple showed. The last time I’d gone for a run was in June, and I’d stopped after a mile and hobbled home in an alarming amount of pain.  I couldn’t even stand the next morning—my knee buckled as stepped out of bed.  I called in sick from work, and took myself to my general physician, who recommended physical therapy, though she couldn’t tell me exactly what the problem was.  It was only later, after seeing a sports medicine doctor, that I was diagnosed.  And I hadn’t even looked at my Brooks since.

My therapist told me to ice my knee if I felt any pain, and to try running again on my own– no more than a mile, on a soft surface, preferably a track, before our next session.

Hurricane Sandy struck on what was to be that next session. I went back for two of my remaining four sessions, then became preoccupied with taking classes with Laurie to fulfill my YTT requirements.

And now I’m afraid to run again.

My knee doesn’t hurt.  I don’t know if it will ever feel normal, if it will be the same as it was before my injury.  Perhaps I’m just hyper-aware of it now.  For the last few weeks, I’ve done pigeon in class, rather than taking the reclined modification.  I told myself that if I felt any tension in my knee, I’d come out of the posture—but I didn’t feel anything at all.  I used to have the strange sensation that I was strangling my knee when I did pigeon before. But it felt okay. Not comfortable, because pigeon is a deep hip-opener. It just wasn’t painful.  So I continued to do it.  And I’ve been pain-free.

Yet I am still afraid of lacing up my sneakers and getting on my treadmill.

I am afraid of getting hurt again.

I’m afraid of the consequences of getting hurt.  The pain, the frustration. The ice packs and daily Naproxen cocktail. The doctors’ visits and twice-weekly physical therapy sessions.  I don’t want to go through that again.

But my body misses running.  It is heavy and sluggish, and it craves movement—more than it gets even with all of the Vinyasa classes I take every week.

I’m trying to figure out the balance:

How do I prevail over the paralysis of fear, so I can give my body what it needs?