An Unexpected Start to the Year

Well it’s been 3 weeks since I last made a post. The truth is I have been trying to write and just none of it feels worthwhile. I have had a few missteps as of late. I pushed too hard to get back to activity after my knee injury and re-injured myself. I am grateful it was not worse but I have done considerable damage to my MCL yet somehow avoided any issues with the ACL this time around. Regardless of how lucky I am I have added at least 8 more weeks to my recovery as the neural pathways are for sure going to take some time to reconnect after a second severe injury to the same knee in less than 6 weeks. That isn’t including the fear I know I am going to have to overcome the first time I step on the court or go for a run again. First time around with the injury I was very proud of how I handled it but obviously there was something different I needed to learn and some things in how I operated that I probably needed to change. This second injury threw me for a loop. I really questioned myself, my beliefs and my bodies resiliency which is something I have always prided myself on. This injury brought out very different emotions, I actually cried a lot. I let fear creep in and started to have major doubts about who I was currently and it felt like I was going to slide back to who I never wanted to be again. Unlike most I am not above using fear, I believe all things are here to serve us but they must be used with the right intention and the right capacity. Overuse some of the dark side emotions and you are headed for burn up. They just cannot be the main or the only reason we are doing something because at some point you will outrun that fear and that is when complacency sets in. Fear can be a driver in the short term but it needs to be replaced with more long term viable solutions which I had not fully dealt with. This brings me to my biggest realization which is where most of my “negative” emotions stemmed from in the days immediately following the second injury.

I was no where near as good as I thought I was and I was actually using the mental and physical toughness I had built to circumnavigate discipline. Being blunt I was a total hypocrite. I don’t believe I was doing it on purpose, I had just slowly eroded and adapted my understanding of discipline to fit in with the narrative I liked the most. I had adjusted my view of discipline with a narrow understanding of the sentence “do the hard shit”, I interpreted that term single mindedly in a way that allowed me to feed the narrative of “do it everyday”. It was as though I was continually trying to prove how tough I was, increasingly hard workouts, ignoring pain as a diagnostic tool and trying to run through everything in my way. I was trying to operate like an elite athlete in the biggest game every single time I worked out. I was not paying attention to movement patterns, adjusting the speed, intensity and focus of each workout or training specific areas of weakness. Even the last 6 weeks since the first injury I went immediately back to training as hard as I could. I just avoided my knee and the hot spots created by it. This very likely led to fatigue and the re-injuring of my knee. My fear was putting me in a place where I was thinking like the old me and the old me thought training and doing the work sucked. I didn’t want to do it, I actually hated it. I just wanted to play the game and get the glory. I didn’t truly want to put the work in. I talked big but there was very little substance because I had very little self awareness. Funny how that has come almost full circle. I got comfortable in who I am now and lost consciousness of who I am trying to become. When I started on this fitness and health journey my intensity, volume and complexity was so much lower that it was ok to hammer everyday as my body was able to absorb it. As I got in better shape it was no longer about being healthy. I don’t know when that shift happened but for a long time now it has been about improved performance, it has become about moving as close to being an elite athlete as possible. I opened doors I didn’t even know existed and I just kept the hammer down, flying right through them assuming that the same thing that brought me to those doors would get me through the next one. That’s just poor logic. As the injuries, muscle pain and fatigue piled up I doubled down rather than listening to my body, to myself. I actually went harder which was cool for a time. Knowing you can push through almost anything is a pretty empowering feeling. But it is not a useful training strategy if you want any form of longevity. Finally the severity of injuries piled up and over the last 6 months I have battled a severe ankle sprain, calf tear, hip flexor and abdominal strain and now a severe sprain of my MCL/ACL followed by a re-injury of my MCL (verdict is still out if it is torn). So what do I do? Well I realized what used to be hard for me in the past was no longer the hard thing in front of me anymore. So I did the hardest thing I could think of.

I took a whole week off.

I didn’t train for a single minute over the course of 7 days and it fucking sucked. To most this may sound contrived and ridiculous but I literally thought about training more minutes of the day than anything else. I let all of the fear and worry of losing everything I had worked for physically and mentally wash over me and then I just sat in it, I journaled and meditated on it, I cried, lost my cool and I alternated between treating myself like shit, and trying to manipulate myself. But here I am following my own advice. I’m in the tunnel and full transparency while I know there is a light, I am not sure what the other side looks like and it scares the shit out of me. I trust that I will make it through and I am quite at peace with the injury. I have realized that I was likely using exercise to escape some other things I needed to deal with and I have actually exponentially sped up a business venture I had put on the back burner. I am back to training but it has been slow going (which is incredibly frustrating) as I am focused on setting a better foundation so that when I am fully back it is with a bang and not just a sputter of the motor. The goal is still to run 100km in June but that at the moment is very much in doubt. All in all my inability to stay disciplined and conscious may cost me some of the things that I deemed incredibly important. That sucks, there really isn’t another way to paint it. But I have learned and that is a good thing. I learned that sometimes you need to use other tools than a hammer and that your definitions of certain things needs to change, iterate and adapt as you grow and improve. Nothing in our life is static and the things that got us to where we are will rarely get us to where we want to go. That last sentence I never fully understood until now. I actually didn’t like it, but as a philosophy it makes perfect sense. It will always take hard-work, discipline, grit and whatever else you think it will take to get where you want to go but what needs to change is how you define what those things mean to you at each step of the road.

So here is to a hard reset of my body for 2022 which has allowed a soft reset of my brain and provided me space to realize what I needed to change. Thanks for following along!

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