Adjusting to Circumstances

Like a lot of people, I enjoy having a morning routine. For me it’s early to bed, early to rise, two newspapers with coffee, out the door for a workout, a jump in the pool, breakfast, and finally, get cleaned up and off to work. Three different workouts, each twice a week, give the week a nice rhythm in addition to the consistency of the overall pattern. Consistency has been a key to my workout regimen, and also, as I’ve written about before, I think very helpful to prevent injury. But it couldn’t last.

Three weeks ago I developed right knee pain after one of my runs. Bummer. The run was fine – same pace and same mileage as I’ve done for over a year – no apparent event – just pain later. After a couple weeks off, the pain is almost gone, but I can’t fully flex my knee and it’s popping and clicking with nearly every step. Sounds like a meniscus injury to me.

My knee probably wasn’t totally normal beforehand. I’ve always had knee pain with squats (within recent memory anyway). So I don’t squat. Two years ago I had a similar episode of knee pain and swelling after an uneventful run. That time it resolved over six weeks without any residual popping or clicking. This time I don’t think I should just start running again. Another bummer.

It’s frustrating to have my routine disrupted. It was working so well for me. Perhaps it’s a little bit worrisome too. What if I “fall off the wagon” exercise-wise? A few weeks’ rest turns into a few months’ or a few years’ layoff, and – “Presto!” – I’m a couch potato again. It happens. Not to mention that I’m a recovering type A personality, and patience is not one of my strengths.

A worse thought is that maybe I’ve got some significant underlying degenerative joint disease and running might not be the best exercise for me long term. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but that one’s kind of depressing. I love running!  Normally, I avoid physicians, but it’s probably time to see an orthopedic surgeon for expert diagnosis and advice.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to adjust to circumstances. The most important shift is mental. Taking my own advice, I’m trying to be in “Acceptance” mode and focus on taking action. Talking it out with my wife and friends has helped ease the frustration. My focus needs to be, what can I do now? How can I keep a helpful routine going?

I tried ten minutes of easy work (limiting my range of motion) on the rowing machine this morning, and that seemed to be okay. So I’m going to try another ten minutes tomorrow. And a 20-minute bicycle ride went reasonable well last Sunday. So I’ve got some options. Options are good.

The other issue that came to mind was my diet. I should probably be very careful with my eating this month. My caloric needs are sure to go down absent the mileage, and I don’t want to pick up a few pounds of pro-inflammatory fat while injured. Time to eat clean. That’s making it a little easier to resist temptation right now. So far, so good. Time will tell.

Thanks for listening to my tale of woe. I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully all’s well on your end, but maybe not. Perhaps you are also adjusting to circumstances. Injuries happen. My good friend broke her arm earlier this week and had surgery today. No more kayaking or paddle boarding for her for a while.

That’s how it is. Nothing lasts forever. Stuff happens. When it happens to you, keeping your composure, working through your feelings, and taking positive action are the keys to getting back on track. Maybe it’s your health, maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s something BIG – doesn’t matter, focus on adjusting to circumstances. Keep your head in the game, think it through, talk with your friends, pray, find professional assistance, and take positive action.

Let me know if I can help.