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  • Writer's pictureChris Toepker

Its Quiet. Too Quiet!

The past few weeks have been quiet ones, like with many of you I’m sure. While I had been taking advantage of the exceptions for outdoor exercise during this COVID time, I seem to have hampered myself by straining a medial collateral ligament (MCL) in my knee. Of course, the following is just my experience. You should seek advice from your doctor!

I have traced the strain to a couple likely things. First, as COVID swept over us, I was very sure to keep maximum distance while out training. For a running, sweating person that is not just six feet. Indeed, according to some reports, we should keep more like 15 feet. For me, this resulted in running along the edge of berms and sidewalks when others were coming headlong at me, or I was passing. That seems to have put a catawampus tilt to my gait. Second, when working from home, I found I was hooking my foot around and behind the chair. This seemingly twisted and pulled the knee and hip. At first, it was just a twinge in the knee when running, but soon enough it hurt, and my calf and hip too. That’s when I decided to stop the running, and start the rehab.

While I woke up nearly every morning with a sore knee and stiff leg, I did not have any "give" or instability problems. Just soreness. I decided to keep workouts going, and to warm up, I focused more on my upper body. My routine is decline pushups using the back of a chair, then scapula pull ups and pull up holds. I also worked the core with alternating V-ups, candlesticks, crunches and bicycles. Warming up for what? Yoga!

Before the shelter at home orders, I was taking yoga at the gym. I learned enough to work out a modified routine that focused on salutation to the sun, moving to triangle and warrior three and (attempted!) standing splits. To my delight, this greatly relieved the pain in my knee and leg. Indeed, through this process, I was able to isolate the pain to the MCL. So, I wound up adding gentle pigeon poses.

Still, by the time Saturdays came around I was pretty stir crazy. So, I kept to my trekking routine – just shortened. Still, over the last two weeks I’d say “I’m back,” except that I still feel my knee…so, still rehabilitating too. Back? Back doing what? Running, of course!

I slowly increased, over a week or two, from maybe a mile walk to three and five mile ones. This gave me confidence, if not freedom from pain, to slowly return to "Needle" and "Thread," (my nicknames for the nearby Lower and Upper Seminole-Wekiva Trails). I pushed this to a a 20-mile distance, all at "touring" pace, taking plenty of walking portions and resting as needed. While I was sore each following day, my leg didn't totally rebel or start to "give" or other troublesome symptoms. Progress! So, I kept up the routine, adding more time to each pose and repeated flows from pose to pose.

What my weekly activity levels look like
One big valley, Saturday peaks only

Recently, I reached a Marathon distance, but certainly not with a time to brag about. Indeed, I ran the first half and power hiked the second half. Considering this is rehab, I'm not displeased with the result. I'm off some of my target times by about 20-30 minutes. For example, I hope to get the half marathon under two hours, and pre-strain I was about 2 hours and 10 minutes. This Marathon: Rehab Edition? Reached it in 2 hours and 26 minutes. I and 30K in 4 hours 15 minutes. Overall, total trip, was about 6 hours. Happily, I feel it, but I’m not “paying for it.” I’m encouraged! My next step is to add a little more running during the week. Indeed, for too long my weekly activity tracking has been a well! Time to give the graph some more peaks and valleys.

Simultaneously, I've been learning how to use a GoPro, and video editing. I'm not yet thrilled with the total outcome, the overall video quality looks pixelated and bumpy. Still, I am loving these timewarps, and look forward to capturing some kung fu too. More to come on the Breaking Impossible YouTube Channel!

Speaking of kung fu, why not work that into the rehabilitation? That is coming soon, I'm sure. For the time being, many of the twisting stances and moves, together with powering up, down and around, seem risky. The MCL seems to complain with that sort of effort. Still, I’m sure I can work through an Iron Wire and likely do some stance work. The lesson? As usual: keep on, keeping on. Listen to your body, push…gently. Get good medical advice!

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