The sports phase
Week 18 through 30 the build-up toward outdoor training.
So, the first five months are already over. Almost halfway through (hopefully)! In terms of strength things are going in the right direction and the weight is going up. However, there are still enough points that need some extra attention. The plan remains to keep training and to work on some specific things in order to work towards the next goal: joining the outdoor training.
To participate in outdoor training, you must be able to do certain skills well enough. These include being able to run well, being in good shape, jumping (on one leg), being able to decelerate, etc. I did not yet meet all of these requirements, so I was still working on them in the exercise room. For example, I was working on landing off a plyobox on one leg and still continuing to do many and increasingly difficult deceleration exercises. At this stage of rehab, those exercises aren't super special yet. Think of falling forward from a step into a lunge with possibly a water bag ejected (and variations thereof). Still, even something so simple can get into your head. Especially on the "bad" days, when your knee is more sensitive than usual, it bothered me more. Afraid to take that hit. Afraid of getting a shot of pain with that blow. And sometimes it was indeed a little sensitive. But as with everything in this rehab: the more often you train it, the easier and the less sensitive exercises become.
"Running is finally going without complaints."
In addition to these things, I was still working to improve on jumping rope on one leg. Usually progress goes somewhat unnoticed, but that was not the case here. I think I saw and felt clear improvement after only 1 or 2 weeks. That was really nice to see. Now of course I have been running for a while with a kind of stiffness/weakness in my left leg and without shoes (as described in my previous blog). The prediction at the time was that running would probably improve if the rope jumping also improved. And yes, that prediction actually came true. Around the nineteenth week I noticed for the first time in a long time that I really had less trouble while running. What a relief that was. By now I had run so much on the treadmill without shoes that I had blisters on the bottoms of my feet, so it was about time I could run with shoes on again. From then on, the running only got better and the annoying feeling went away more and more. Since the running was also going well now, it meant one thing: I could finally join the outdoor training.
"I get to start outdoor training!"
Let me explain a little more about these workouts. In outdoor training (not to be confused with field training) you go outside into the park with a small group. There we then train a combination of strength, endurance, jumps, running forms, turns and turns, etc., often using the attributes of the park such as benches, stairs and tree trunks. So it really is a small milestone when you are far enough along in your rehabilitation to be allowed to participate in this. In the beginning, it can still be pretty tough conditionally and you'll be doing a lot of new things. For example, my first outdoor training consisted of just feinting, but because everyone can do the exercise at their own pace, it's easy to get in. During my previous rehabilitation I also participated in these trainings and then I just enjoyed participating; it was nice to complete those trainings together with fellow sufferers and challenge each other and make each other better. That's why I was looking forward to starting this.
In addition to the outdoor workouts, I continued to train indoors, of course. Besides strength, the focus came to lie more on creating power in my left leg. That there was still room for improvement there, was of course already noticeable during rope-jumping. I also started training acceleration. After only two weeks, further training had to wait, because I went on vacation. Where you hope that you will not have to think about your knee so much, the opposite happened. We went on vacation by car and I immediately had a thick knee after the outward journey. So the first few days I had to take it easy. To try to stay fit a bit more, after the fluid was gone, I worked out a few times and ran. The latter went surprisingly well. For the first time I had run 25 minutes in a row in a mountainous landscape, even downhill, and that without pain!
"Tip: keep working out on vacation!"
That I did not do a lot of strength training, I immediately began to notice the second week of vacation. While running, my knee started to buckle the moment I stretched my leg. So that was immediately the last running session of the vacation. Not much later, the snapping also started occasionally during normal running. So it was not exactly a vacation where you 'forget' your knee. When I got back from vacation, I had to start building up again with strength training in order to make the crack go away. With the warning in my pocket to start slowly and to go lower in weights than before, I started strength training again. Well that first workout back I knew. Intense muscle pain. I can't remember the last time I had so much muscle pain. So here's a tip from me: after a vacation, start really quietly and reduce the weight for that first workout (or of course: don't go on vacation). That will hopefully save you a lot of muscle pain!
After over a week of mostly strength training, the snapping thankfully subsided. I started running again and the themes of acceleration, power and explosiveness were also picked up again. The explosiveness to jump on one leg high and/or multiple times in a row (on a plyobox) was missing, but so was the explosiveness in my calves. So I'm going to work on those points in the coming weeks. And then hopefully, if that goes well again, maybe I can start field training.