TITLE: Another Shovel Of Dirt
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: January 08, 2012 9:57 AM
This morning, I did something I hadn't done since Sunday,
February 27. I did a long workout. That day, it was a
12-mile run in single-digit temperatures, a bright, sunny
morning. This day, it was a 1-hour ride on an exercise
bike in my basement. It is again a bright, sunny morning,
but I was shielded from the winter old.
It felt good.
I've been riding an exercise bike daily since mid-November
or so, working my way up from the 10-15 minute I rode
occasionally in earlier therapy physical sessions first
to 30 minutes, and now to 45 minutes at a time. Today
for some reason, my mind said,
just keep riding.
Over the last couple of months, I have begun exercising my
knee more often and for longer, as I rehab from
knee surgery last summer.
In addition to the exercise bike, I have been walking a lot.
Most days now, I walk 4-5 miles, usually in the evening with
my family. It's not running, but it's moving, and it feels
good to move -- and burn a few calories. After seven months
of inactivity, I had gained twenty pounds and lost my lovely
figure. I'm working on both those problems now.
The last two months of 2011 offered an experience that turned
my memory inside out: my therapist had me run in our athletic
department's Hydroworx pool. Put simply, this is a treadmill
on the floor of a pool, which can be lowered to any level.
Air jets blow water at the runner to create more resistance.
Running in the water blunts impact on all the joints,
including the knee, so my surgeon recommended it as part of
The first time we speeded the treadmill from walk to gentle
run, I was in ecstasy. My body fell into that comfortable
rhythm that runners know and love. My heart raced. At
first, my mind was empty, but soon it flooded with memories
of runs past. I had not felt like a runner since last March.
Yet there I was, a runner again.
That feeling was bittersweet, though. I knew that I could
run in the pool only for a couple of months, as part of my
therapy. Once my knee regained a certain level of strength
and balance, pool sessions for therapy would end. And so
they did. When I make my first Internet million, perhaps
I'll build such a pool at my house, but for now I am back
to walking and biking.
I haven't been writing about my knee, or about not running,
for a lot of small reasons. This isn't a confessional
blog, and I doubt many readers are interested in hearing me
go on and on about my feelings. I also haven't find myself
making connections between my rehab and my teaching or my
software development, as I did when I was running. My
experiences have been nothing unique, mostly what musical
artist John Mellencamp calls "ditch digging": just doing
what little I have to do each day. There is certainly
something to be learned in this experience, but at this
point I have nothing special to say.
Still, after riding for a full hour today, feeling a little
like I did on all those Sunday long runs, reminded me of
something worth remembering. When we do the little work
day to day, we build something bigger. It takes patience.
Another shovel of dirt.