I’m about four months out from my surgery now, and I have to admit I’m getting kind tired of doing the same thing over and over in rehab. I feel like I’m close to being able to run, but it’s one of those things where you feel like you’re so close, yet so far. I just want to be able to train.
The rehab has gone on for so many months, and I never imagined having to wait this long. I’ve never gone for like five months without running. At this point, everyone is getting ready for the season, so I feel like everyone around me is training, and it’s hard not to get anxious.
Because we’re doing a lot of the same things daily, I feel every day in training is kind of like Groundhog Day. I’m a person who likes to stay busy, so I miss training on the track. I miss doing what I love to do. That’s the hardest part of sitting on the sidelines. You’re not used to be limited, and now you’re very limited, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Everything in you wants to do something different, but you can’t.
The workouts I’m doing now are not so much the focused stuff for strengthening the quad, the calf and the muscles around the knee that we did when I first started rehab. I’m still doing that stuff, but I’m also doing a lot of upper body stuff too. It’s almost like a weight-training workout, but not entirely because I always feel like I should be doing more. I feel like I have to play catch up.
I get up and start rehab every morning around 8 or 9 a.m. We start with full-body circuit workouts now for about 75 minutes of non-stop work.
For the upper body I do push-ups, lat pulldowns and upper body rows. For core work, I do mostly ab workouts and planks. We also do lots of stability work with the medicine ball, and for the lower body, I do a lot of lateral lunges and squats.
I do these single leg squats in all different directions with my leg facing at 12 o’clock, then 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, et cetera, all these different angles to work the different muscles. For the lower body, I do a lot of glute work with bands to strengthen those muscles, as well as a lot of calf raises.
After the circuit workout, I do 30-plus minutes of cardio, which is usually split between the bike and the arch machine, a machine that simulates running. With the arch machine, you don’t actually lift your feet up. It’s almost like doing high knee lifts without cycling your legs. Your feet never leave the ground, but it allows to get your cardio in and keep moving. It’s adjustable, and I’ve adjusted it to the point where my knees are up in a running form, but that’s all I can do. It’s just a means to get cardio in.
I’ve also started to do some more pool work on my own just so I can run. I’ll do a straight 10-minute run, laps from end to end, and some kicks. It’s all low impact, but it keeps me active.
They started me on the Alter-G machine at the beginning of this month. The Alter-G is a type of treadmill that injured athletes use to help get back used to running and putting weight on their legs in running form, all without putting all your body weight on at once. It allows you to still be active, and run while you’re healing.
It’s a whole process to use the machine. You get into these little shorts, and they get hooked up to the machine. The machine inflates. As it’s blowing up, it feels like it’s lifting you off the ground, but your toes are still on the treadmill. You can adjust the setting to put a certain percentage of body weight on your legs to run. What it’s doing when it’s inflating is elevating you to take some of your weight off your legs. It’s funny cause when you get off of it, your legs feel really heavy — you’ve come back down to full gravity.
Usually, I’ll get on it on a Monday, and then don’t do it again for a couple days because they don’t want to irritate anything in my knee since I just started on it. So for now at least, there are absolutely no back-to-back days. After Monday, it just depends on how my knee looks and feels because they don’t know how it will respond.
I am making progress, though. Each week I’m able to add more of my body weight on, and I keep increasing my time and my rate of speed, so that is fun. It’s also a tease because it gives you a taste of running, but then I go right back to strength stuff. When I get off of it every time I’m thinking, “No. Let’s keep this going.” I know that I’ll get there eventually, but it just seems like such a long process.
Right now, the personal trainer says my knee is pretty stable. I haven’t seen the doctor who did my surgery since September, but I’m to the point now where the PT is kind of the eyes and ears for my doctor. I do still think my quad can be a little stronger, but I think it will get there when I start running back on the track.
MOTIVATION AND SUPPORT
I’m ready to move on to the next phase of my rehab, and now it’s about figuring out what that is. I kind of moved up a stage with the Alter-G, but I want to move on and be more active, that’s why I’m going to the pool to run in there on my own. and I’d like to up the Alter-G to 2-3 times a week instead of just once a week.
I’m hoping by January I can start jogging and running on my own with my training group. Even if I can only jog for like five minutes in the grass, just starting with some little short runs, that would be good. I haven’t done any jumping at all for hurdling. I don’t think I’m ready for that. I feel like I’ll have to run flat for a little bit first.
I try not to get discouraged, and all these other things I’ve been doing are helping me to stay active. At least I’m not sitting around waiting. But I can’t shake the feeling that whenever I do get on the track, I’m still going to be starting from ground zero.
It’s very hard to make any type of exercises match up to a track workout. There’s nothing like running with your own body weight on the ground like I’m used to. Knowing how much catch up I’ll have to do can get discouraging because there’s all this pressure on you to compete and perform at a certain level, and I need to get back to that level first.
I’m anxious to get back to training with my group because we have a lot of great stuff in the works. I see most of the ladies in the group a lot because we’re great friends, and I’ve gone out to practice a few times to meet with our coach, Bobby Kersee, and the group before they go out and run.
They’re all pretty supportive, checking on me and asking how it’s going. Jeneba Tarmoh goes to the same place I do for personal training, so I see her there, and we’ll talk.
Bobby does try to push me from time to time. He was telling me the other day, “My main thing with you, Ginnie, is you have to be patient and just rehab the hell out of that knee. Just stay in there and stay focused.” He knows I’m getting to the point where I’m getting antsy and irritated. He’s always telling me how much he believes in me, and that he knows I’m still one of the best hurdlers in the world and one of the fastest. He’s just always reminding me of that because sometimes when you don’t compete as well as you want to, or you go through things like this, you tend to forget that stuff.
There have been times where I’ve thought, “I’m just going to get a regular job” because I felt so far removed. But I feel like I’m giving up on myself if I do that. So it helps that Bobby is encouraging me to stay with it, and telling me that I’m going to make progress. The main thing is just to find patience in this, and remember that I’ve come this far and I’ll be on the track soon.
I also had lunch with one of my old training partners, Michelle Perry, not too long ago, and she was actually really motivating as it related to life outside of track. I was talking to her about my injury and coming back from it, and she was just telling me to work twice as hard off the track to come back as I would on the track.
But more than what anyone can say to me, I really have rely on myself for motivation. I don’t think anyone can really motivate you like you can motivate yourself. None of my friends or training partners have been off the track with an injury like I have, so it’s hard for them to understand the frustration. It’s hard to relate when you haven’t been there. But they do their best to support me, and they’re all great friends.