Return to the water!

Since I injured my knee, I have been spending a lot of time limping and a lot of time wishing I could get back to working out. I started a new job (woo!), went on a family trip to Vegas (woo!), and cooked a split-pea cake. All I wanted to do was go for a run, or try out my new aero-bars, or jump in the pool. I even wanted to do the butterfly — that’s how much I missed it. I tended to hold things together in public until the end of each day when the cumulative pain and lack of endorphins from exercise built up and I’d snap at Josh for dumb reasons (or more often, no reason).

Last week, I got the go ahead to try swimming again. And, somehow, I was shocked that it was hard.

I don’t necessarily mean physically (although my arms were sheer dead weight after swimming a 500 the other day), but it’s actually been hard emotionally. I get so frustrated in practice, for so many reasons:

  • because I can’t do flip turns
  • because I can’t kick hard
  • because when my knee starts to hurt, I have to use a pull buoy
  • because I can’t push myself as hard as I want
  • because I have to be careful

I mean, I could go on and on, but that’s not interesting for anyone (myself included, believe it or not). It boils down to the fact that I want to be 100% healed and I’m not yet.

I had a terrible practice last week, and my coach gave me some good advice: “It’s frustrating when we’re not at 100%. But how often are we at 100%?”

After that practice, during which everyone in the world was faster than me (yes, I am a competitive person) and I got so discouraged that at one point when I felt like I couldn’t do anything right I actually cried into my goggles while I was swimming (I don’t recommend this for either visibility or proper swimming technique), I swam a slow backstroke to cool down. The backstroke, as readers of this blog may know, is my comfort zone, and as I tried to stretch out in the water (always striving for that good technique even when warming up and cooling down), I had ample time to reflect on what, exactly, I was doing there. I realized that I was happy being in the water, and I was happy to be working out again, despite all the frustration. I’m thankful to be back in the pool and as much as I wish I could fast-forward to the moment when everything is magically healed enough to go back to full-force training, at least I’m on the path.

As one last aside, I’d point out that even though to me it didn’t feel like it, I was doing something in the past month, too. Resting and healing is a part of training, especially after an injury, and recovery is work. I just prefer the work of running around.

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