Sunday, June 15, 2008

Put Me In, Coach!

I'm off the bench, officially. A couple of weeks ago I took the knee braces off and tucked them away, waving goodbye to my little one-legged mascot and wishing him well. I can take it from here.

My knees (yes, at one point in my therapy I was upgraded to wearing two knee braces instead of just one) feel great, and on my first day back running sans assistance, I felt like Forrest Gump when he takes off running and his braces fall off and he proceeds to run for like 20 years straight. I don't want to run that far, but I felt like I could.

No cramps, no twinges, no aches or pains. Just me and my sneakers, hitting the pavement. Well, and my clothes; I don't run naked. Me, my sneakers, and my clothes: out there hard at work. iPod. Me, my sneakers, my running clothes, and my iPod. Hitting the pavement and giving it our all.

I took it slow for the first week and then got more brave, adding intervals after about 20 minutes. It feels so good to sprint, so good to take off like a bullet and feel my chest swell and heave, and to imagine the sidewalk crumbling in my wake as I race to the finish. If you ever want to experience true euphoria, run sprint intervals while listening to "Invincible" by OK-Go. It never fails.

But more important than running without my velcro buddies was my first real lower-body weight routine. Sumo squat, here I come. I actually didn't do any sumo squats (it's always nice to have something to anticipate) but I did do regular old squats and finally being able to break the plane instead of having to stop just short of a 90-degree angle was like coming home for Christmas. I even jumped on the leg extension with enthusiasm. I'm already seeing some nice definition and having to take the elevator at work is a badge of honor I am wearing with a huge dose of self-satisfaction.

Taking my braces off signaled a new phase in my training, and a new phase in my personal life, as well. I'd had a rough week and knew I needed to make some changes in one of my personal relationships. Saying goodbye to someone you've cared about is never easy, but it helped to find a symbolic link between that departure and taking off my knee braces. Removing the obstacle gave way to a freedom and lightness that I had not felt in a long time, and I finally felt like I was myself again.

So now, I am ready, full-steam ahead, to get my lower body back in shape. Putting up with the things that have held me back for the past few months - physical therapy, slow jogs, itchy knee braces, and wussy leg routines - have been well worth it. I know that I needed to take that break and put up with those inconveniences so I could appreciate the ability to come into the gym and knock it out of the park again.

So put me in coach, I'm ready to play!


The Irredeemable Shag said...

Congrats! While I'm not a work-out kind of guy, I have had situations where I felt my arm was tied behind my back. Once the hypothetical arm was released, I felt like a million bucks.

Keep up the great work! You can work out for the both of us. :)

The Irredeemable Shag

EDP said...

You got your mojo back, and that is fantastic! I know it feels great.