oscillot’s AchillesBlog

fear and intermediate goal setting

June 7th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Brendan has a great discussion on his blog about how fear can be healthy, protecting us from re-ruptures in the same way it prevents us getting hit by a car. But it can also overtake us irrationally, holding us back from living life to its fullest.

I’m four weeks post-op (five since the injury), and too early to gauge “realistic” goals, as I haven’t even healed enough to put weight on my foot, experiment with range of motion, or start strengthening exercises. Once I do, I know I will follow my rehab protocol religiously, but there will be setbacks, even if it’s just minor soreness or scar tissue that’s tough to break up. Undoubtedly, I will be held back not only by my physical deficiencies, but psychic ones, too. While I can’t wait to ditch the knee walker and crutches, the protection and security of the boot will be much harder to give up. But to live a normal life and fully recover, I need to.

The Death Valley Trail Marathon was the pinnacle of my physical accomplishments, having completed it in just over 5:00:47 in December 2012. This race consists of climbing 1500 ft of steep elevation up a mountain, bombing straight down 5000 ft of loose gravel, then running another 15 or so miles on packed sand. I live within driving distance, love being in the desert, and Furnace Creek is a nice resort, so it’s actually a nice way to spend a family weekend. I was 2.5 years younger and 15 lbs lighter than I am now, but if everything goes according to schedule, I could conceivably work myself back to that level of fitness. It’s a significant amount of time to commit to training and recovery, but the warrior in me feels compelled to pursue that path and conquer my ATR. That’s my ceiling.

Short term goals are also easy to set - I am going to entrust my surgeon and physical therapist with monitoring my body and dictating the healing and strengthening process. I’ll be told week by week what angle to stretch my Achilles, how many miles to walk, what strengthening programs to follow until ~6 months post-op. But then what? Should I immediately pick up running and train for a 5k? Should I take time off of running, and experiment with something lower impact, like cycling? When will I become comfortable enough to go bowling (my ATR was on the left, and I am right handed)?

After the emotional trauma of rupturing an Achilles, I’m going to be shell-shocked for a while, and am going to have to re-learn what it means to push my limits, while being safe and self-aware.

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