Use It or Lose It

This morning I did something I haven’t done in over four years.

The first thought in some of your minds might be…compete in the Olympics. Sadly, that is not the case. Until they add witty remarks or sarcasm as an event, you will not see me in Brazil in 2016 or South Korea in 2018 as a competitor.

No my friends, I finally got up my nerve and attempted to run.

For the average person, well let us say the average non-American, (since we are always portrayed as obese slobs) this would not be a watershed moment worthy of a blog, but for me this was indeed a high point in my life worth sharing.

I know on May 9th, 2011, I swam before riding into work that afternoon. I am not so certain of the date I last ran for exercise. As a younger man I did my fair share of 5k fun runs and such, but that was many years ago and it was mostly for the camaraderie and t-shirts. Running was never a need for me, the constant pounding on my legs was hard on my body and biking or swimming seemed so much more exciting. When I say exciting, what I mean is the patiently waiting for a lap lane to open at the public pool and showering afterwards with strange, naked men or possibly getting run over by a distracted driver who is texting or talking on their phone while I am biking three feet next them.

Although I have avoided the more athletic exercises since my accident, I have tried my best to eat right and walk or hike when the opportunity presented itself (I even got familiar with the elliptical machine on rare occasions). I have been wanting to push myself to run over the past few months, but specifically waited until after my last surgery to have my ankle screw removed (read about it here). I thought the discomfort it was causing me was due to the fact that I had run on a treadmill a few times and that it was working its way back out of my bone. Thank goodness this was not the case, but I think my heavier use of the leg was impeded by hardware near joint that is used excessively during exercise.

When I first tried jogging a few years back, after all the surgeries, it was a disaster. My mechanics were all off, my left leg was like a prosthetic, just swinging next to me with my foot slamming down on the ground. It was painful, pathetic and made me really feel that my life had changed for the worse without my control. It was not a good emotional place to be. Eventually I tried again and took some of the pressure of my leg by turning my run into a hybrid fast skip. It was a sad combination of manly running joined by some dainty school girl one-leg hopping. I only used it when I needed to make haste at work, which unfortunately, seems to be more times than others do.

Today I ran up and down some stairs, which is comfortable for me and my leg, but the real challenge was running on solid ground. At the bottom of the stairs was a wide open soccer pitch which I decided would be my proving grounds for the day. I assumed the grass field would be more forgiving on my ankle and knee, so I avoided the lengthy jogging trail. My mechanics are still off and I tried to compensate by running more on the front of my feet, towards the toes, so that I would cushion my steps and save my knee. There was pain, but nothing I cannot manage.

photo 1
“Even if the stairs are falling down…”
photo 2
Past the goal in the distance was my goal for distance.
Stairway to heaven?
Stairway to heaven?

After all was said and done I ran the stairs eight times and across the field and back three times. Although my heart felt like it was going to pound its way right out of my chest, I survived. My leg is stiff and sore, but if that is the price of progress than I will gladly pay.

As with everything during my recovery/rehabilitation I need to do things on my terms. Today was the day I decided to push myself.

The many doctors and physical therapists I have seen over the past four years gave me zero chance to run again, so hopefully you understand the significance of this morning. I may not be signing up for a marathon anytime soon, but at least today I have gained more of my old self back. Here’s to heathy living, surrounding yourself with positive people and pushing your body to discover its limits.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

Vincent Lorusso Written by:

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. - Jackie Robinson

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