Sunday, 17 January 2016

Making a Setback Work for You

We all experience little events in our lives that take us off our intended course and steer us in a different direction.  Usually along the way if we aren't frustrated with the setback we learn a lesson or two.  But the key is being open to learning the lesson.

Over the past month I have experienced a significant setback for me.  I had been training regularly with my running schedule similar to my pattern for the past five years.  I was running five days a week with tempo and hill work incorporated.  To cross train I was combining plyometrics and strength training.  It was an intense training schedule but it had worked for me in the past.  I was even looking to scheduling training for some longer runs and was considering signing up for Around the Bay at the end of March.

That is until December 23rd.  Early that morning I was having coffee with my husband.  The weather was mild and I was planning on heading outside for a run.  As I told him about my plan I noticed my Achilles tendon was a little sore.  Running my hand up the tendon I felt a lot of inflammation and a nodule on the tendon.  Not good news for me.

Because of the holidays I wasn't able to see my osteopath or regular physiotherapist.  In fact I couldn't see anyone for a week.  So I rested my leg, iced it.  When it felt better I stretched the calf and massaged the tendon.  I've been in physio for four weeks and have been getting ultrasound to break up the scar tissue.  I'm also not supposed to run or do any high impact exercises for at least four more weeks.

In the past ten years and my entire time as a personal trainer, I have never not included running in my own personal workouts.  But I realized that this was an indication from my body that I needed to change things.  What worked for me five years ago from a fitness perspective wasn't working now.  In fact, I was exercising regularly at a high intensity and not seeing any results.

I decided to wipe the slate clean and start with the basics.  For the first week I was rehabbing my leg I did yoga daily focusing on hip and shoulder openers and stretching my calf.  While I was working with my physiotherapist she pointed out that my left side was much weaker than my right.  So I've been strengthening my left hip, specifically the gluteus medius.  

Finally, I've gone back to basic strength training and walking.  Plain old walking either outside (preferably) or when necessary on the treadmill.  Over the past four weeks of this routine I am actually noticing huge changes in my overall strength and I am starting to notice muscle definition.

These are the benefits, but it took a great deal of mental effort to look at my problem in that manner.   Running has so many benefits for me far beyond physical.  But no run in the world is worth a ruptured tendon.  So what is more important is that I actually listen to the message from my body and make changes.  

In our lives we get these little messages all of the time.  This wasn't the first time my Achilles tendon gave me issue but it was the first time I actually listened.  How many of us have these little hints or messages that crop up for us and how many times do we stop and change course?  A setback may feel like a major disappointment.  Yes I am sad that at least for now I won't be able to do any running let alone long distance running in the near future.  But I am grateful that I am working toward strengthening my body and I have a chance to try new and different workouts.

Slowing down isn't a bad thing, in fact you often see and experience more in each moment when you take your time to look around.  

I've read recently that optimists don't necessarily live longer than pessimists but I would certainly argue the quality of their lives is much greater.  The choice to view a setback as a beginning or an end is entirely up to you.

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