Friday, November 15, 2019

What happens when you take months off from exercise

When I worked in public accounting, tax seasons were fairly brutal with 80-90 hour workweeks.  Plus a commute.  I would take that time off from running because I was exhausted and there really wasn't time for any activities other than those that were absolutely necessary.  Any and all free time I had went to sleeping.  So I'm no stranger to taking off blocks of time from running, but 20 years later, my body is different and bouncing back is not quite so easy.

My longest chunk of time away from running and working out of any kind was during my pregnancies (back to back) and then life with three newborns.  But still I was much younger than I am now.

At the end of August, I decided to stop running and walking in hopes that my ankle would heal up on its own.  (Spoiler alert:  it didn't.)  My adult tap class was the only exercise I kept that involved using my ankles and I've tried to take it easy on that left leg but there's only so much I can do to baby it.  

I had planned to continue biking and get back to weights, but then my dad was hospitalized and I ended up sick and then it was too cold outside (by my standards) to ride a bike so I did nothing.  I don't know what it is about this time of the year, but I have very little motivation when it comes to working out.  I think the weather has something to do with it.  Well, it definitely doesn't help.  My favorite time to exercise outside is late spring through the summer.  In other words, when it's above 75 degrees.  I hate feeling cold and the last thing I want to do right now is change into running clothes, because even though the heat is set at 70, it still feels cold to me.

About two weeks ago, I was all like I'm gonna do this and I ran one mile.  My ankle didn't bother me.  I survived.  But running that one mile wasn't exactly easy.  Not like it was six months ago.

I took three full days off to give my ankle time to rest up and then I attempted another mile.  That didn't go so well with pain setting in shortly after a half mile.  I should note that when turning the wrong way, or sometimes just doing regular, everyday stuff, I'll feel discomfort.  Not all the time, but enough to remind me that there's an underlying problem.

So around this time, something happened to my "bad" knee, which is my right one (opposite of the now "bad" ankle.)  I was walking down the stairs at home, felt an extremely sharp pain right under my kneecap and almost fell on the stairs.  That repeated itself several times that day, so I spent almost a week hobbling up and down the stairs, fearful that I was literally falling apart.  

When I could finally travel up and down stairs without issue, I hit the treadmill again, but I broke up that one mile run into quarter mile segments.  I started off walking a quarter of a mile, than I ran a quarter, walked a quarter, repeat, repeat until I had walked one mile and ran one mile in total.  I was pain free in my both my ankle and my knee, but I've been lazy this week and haven't tried it again.

I still weigh the same as I did over the summer.  My clothes still fit the same.  I've adjusted how much food I consume because with very little exercise, I'm not as hungry.  What I don't like is the loss of muscle and feeling flabby.  I like to feel strong.  If I need to kick someone's ass (and hopefully that never happens), I want to feel like I have a fighting chance.

In tap class, we work on strengthening certain muscles and not to sound like I was in the best shape ever, but when our teacher would say, "You should feel that," I didn't really feel much.  And I was putting forth a decent amount of effort, because obviously if you half ass it, you won't feel anything.  Since class started up back in September, I can feel it.

Exercise is important for your overall health. Any type of exercise.  I often need to remind myself of that.  I don't need to be running 20+ miles a week. 

I never paid much attention to my resting heart rate, perhaps because no one ever said anything about it, unlike blood pressure, which was a concern during my pregnancy with the girls.  (It was always low, but they kept an eye on it because there was concern it could rise.)  At my physical last spring, my resting heart rate was 61, 62.  I can't remember the exact number.  I looked it up when I got home because it seemed low, but it's actually really good.  My mom has to monitor my dad's blood pressure and heart rate so I tested myself last week at their house and my resting heart rate was still 61, 62.  My brother said, "Well, don't you run?"  Yeah, no.      

When I refer to my bad ankle, it's really not my ankle.  There's something going on with the tendons that run along the outside of my ankle.  Interestingly enough, some are of the opinion that complete rest is not fruitful as you will be resting muscles that don't need to rest and then you'll need to strengthen those in addition to whatever was healing.

All I know is I'm an old lady who doesn't know how not to be a runner.  


Anonymous said...

Would it be helpful to try physical therapy or even search a few therapy videos on YouTube to help your ankle or your knee? From personal experience, I think a great physical therapist can be invaluable in these sorts of situations. Even just a few sessions to learn what kind of exercises you could be doing at home, if you don't have the time to see one on a weekly basis.

Sarah said...

I have been doing some stretching that was recommended for the ankle. From what I can tell, the tendons injury is not a common one. I do plan to discuss with my PCP the next time I see her. Unfortunately, it looks like I'd have to have an MRI for a definite answer and I'm afraid to do so with my old dental implant.