Friday Group Ride #394

Friday Group Ride #394

They say bad things happen in threes, so I should count myself lucky to have run through the whole set in the space of four days. On Sunday, at soccer, I stepped on the ball and went careening forward onto my left knee, bruising my quadriceps where it attaches. Cue the swelling and bruising. I knew right away I was hurt, but I tried to keep playing, because I am like that. That led to the hamstring pull on the right side, and when I felt that tell-tale twang I knew the jig was up. I hobbled off the field wondering why I’d even showed up. It was 13F out, and I could have been in the basement on the trainer.

Now, I know from experience that the hardest part of dealing with injuries is psychological. It was (and usually is) rash impatience that produced the hurt to begin with, and so shifting gears to serene patience, steady-as-you-go-mate, is really difficult, if not constitutionally impossible.

Then I got the flu. It bears saying that I didn’t get the annual flu shot, when I had the chance, because I was in a rush to get back to work, so the pattern holds, even if there are no guarantees the aforementioned shot would have prevented my illness.

What started, I thought, as a cold, quickly degenerated into body aches, chills, and crippling fatigue. On Tuesday, I retreated from work, shivering and miserable, hit the couch still wearing my down coat and stayed there for five hours without moving. My knee throbbed. My brain capered at the possibility of death’s imminent embrace.

My wife says I’m too dramatic.

But I’m also a realist. Bad things don’t just happen in threes. Sometimes they come in fours, or nines. My problem is that I don’t want to be well. I want to be well AND fit again, a larger battle I began failing  three weeks or a month ago, with the arrival of the polar vortex and the bomb cyclone here in New England. As an aside, goddamn I love me some carbs. SO…the project isn’t just to get myself upright and functional, but also to be fit and feel good, which is as daunting as cleaning the Augean Stables with a tooth brush.

This week’s Group Ride asks for some advice. It’s winter in New England. I’ve had some setbacks. How would YOU put yourself right? And what do you think a reasonable timeline for the comeback is?

Image: Thomas Rowlandson, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts


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  1. Andrew

    Well, everyone is different, but I can ride a bike with the kinds of leg injuries that would stop me from running. So you’ll likely be able to ride indoors once you get over the flu.

    I don’t know, man- you seem like a pretty reasonable guy. Set realistic goals, don’t be too hard on yourself, exercise for fun. Give yourself a target in August to peak for. The same things most of us middle aged weekend warriors have to do.

  2. Davo

    I’ve been recovering from one thing or another for the last five years. I expect to be recovering from future maladies for the rest of my life. I’m just a mid-pack masters racer, but getting old is a bitch. I will say that when I find myself dealing with multiple problems it is often wise to raise a white flag, stop and reset. Clear the decks and just heal. The first thing that gets better is your head, and then your brain can sensibly lead you back to happiness.

    1. Aar

      Davo: Thanks for writing this. I was about to write it myself – except for the racer part.

      About healing your head, don’t force it. Roll with it and listen to its impulses. Once your head gets you on the bike or trainer, listen to both your body and head. Until you get to a certain level of health and fitness, pushing through tends to lead to setbacks.

  3. w

    Take 4 weeks, focus on core strength, eat better then you ever have, spin a little only (if completely pain free). It will be your best season in a decade if you do this.

  4. Dizzy

    “How would YOU put yourself right? And what do you think a reasonable timeline for the comeback is?”

    Robot: Here’s my Rx:
    For the musculo-skelital injury, a week…a FULL week…of ice 4 – 5 times a day plus NO further physical stress. For the flu, stay as hydrated as possible, high carbs, and rest. As hard as this is, you’ll be so happy after one week. Then take about a week to slow-pace yourself back up to your normal speed. Any set back, fatigue and/or continued pain, requires yet another full week of the above.

    If you’re game and can find an acupuncturist who specializes in sports injuries, you’ll be so pleased w/your faster recovery.

    (For my protection: Closed course, professional driver, do not try this at home)

  5. Michael

    While the east is complaining about the cold and snow, most of the west is having a terrifyingly dry winter, especially the Southwest. This could lead to forest die-offs and fires and all sorts of mayhem in the spring and summer. But right now, I bet you could get a nice hotel room somewhere in the Southwest and ride for a week in February – long rides in the warmth, no pressure, just base miles and weight loss. Ride when and how you can until you get on the plane – whatever shape you have at that point is acceptable. That is what I recommend. Now, to afford that trip, well, I dunno.

  6. Zvi Wolf

    Oddly enough I just faced a similar predicament, but without the flu. I came around a corner too slowly on a MTB trail, hit a log “feature” and instead of rolling over it ended up falling onto it. I bruised my thigh badly. I could barely mount the bike, though riding it wasn’t too bad. It took a week of rest. The leg was so stiff that I could barely walk the stairs and I had to lift it by hand to get it into the car. I did 2 road rides this weekend, a 20 mile solo and a 50 mile club ride. Those loosened up the leg. I can walk pretty normally now. The colors on my thigh and groin are still pretty spectacular.

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