It's been just 7 months since my last surgery to repair my destroyed forearms and wrists, and 6 since I've been out of the cast. Mobility is coming back, very slowly, but surely. However one thing that is stalling is my fitness.
I've been struggling, really struggling, for the last 3 months or so with several things. Firstly, understanding that my fitness has (inevitably) dropped. Air is getting back in my lungs very slowly, mainly because I seem to have lost all motivation to run. It's been such a natural part of my life since the beginning of 2012 when I started preparing for my first OCR, but I'm just not enjoying it at the moment. The few 5km runs that I have done have been shockingly slow, for me. This time 2 years ago I hit my 5km B of 15:44, and while I've no desire to get back there, struggling to hit even 21 mins on a flat road run is getting frustrating.
Strength is starting to come back, but getting used to the limitations of the mobility in my old training routines is also a big source of frustration. I'm finding however, that because strength is coming back faster than cardio that I'm focusing way too much on it, which in turn is making my cardio suffer even more.
It's not just performance that has suffered so badly. My body shape is heading back to the way of the potato, as I'm comfort eating way too much and again can't get back into routine. Since starting to get back into shape in 2010, my goal was always to be in great shape for our 10 year wedding anniversary, and, while I was in better shape, the timing of the surgeries was just the worst.
It's such a weird feeling; This is all stuff that has come so naturally for so long that I've forgotten what starting from scratch is like. Can I even remember how? It's only now, and in the last week or so, that I've started to truly realise what starting back from here feels like; Workouts that used to be my warm-ups, or 1/3 of a total training session, are now about as much as I can muster.
I have at least started to feel my passion for OCR a bit again, thanks to being encouraged by a very good friend, Mim, to take on the last Tough Mudder of the season. On the course, there was only the odd one or two people that I came across that I knew. The normal OCR routine for me would be meeting up with a couple hundred of the same faces before, during and after the races, but this was different. Not only were there few of the OCR community there, but it was my first Tough Mudder without a team. Just heading out with me, myself and I. And I loved it. I was slow, but it was fun. I helped strangers. I posed for the cameras. I got muddy. All of the things I had previously fallen out of love with.
So, getting back to basics. The Tough Mudder experience allowed me to really feel alive again, and also realise that my residual fitness has well and truly gone. So how to get back to it? For now, I've decided to stay off the road running, and Grovely (My favourite off-road haunt) is too far away to do regularly. So, I've decided to go back to my old routine of daily hitting a 600m/400m row/hill-sprint. Every day, no exceptions. This used to be a warm-up or daily fitness test and it was great for fat burning. But for now, I've decided to ignore the pace and just get back into routine. Yesterday, I set the resistance on my Concept 2 down to three, from the normal five, and ignored timing. As much effort that I felt comfortable with without it making me feel so bad that I wanted to give up. I finished- Dripping with sweat (Again not something I was used to on that level of intensity) but feeling ok.
I'm now on day two, and feeling good. Today, I put the resistance back to five but still ignored the timing. My plan is to do this for another two weeks and then try to speed up. Mixed up with my normal strength sessions and trips to Grovely when I can, I'm hoping that this is the start of proper, rehab. I have a few more plans up my sleeve to help along the way, but more of that later. For now, I can start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm heading back towards it.