Making it Back into a Running Routine After Physical Therapy

(The following article was contributed by Tim Johns)

I had been exercising on a regular basis, at the local YMCA for five months when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go on a run with her. I usually did cardio in the gym on a machine, then did weights. I thought “Sure, why not?” She said we would go for a two mile loop. Since I had been doing cardio and weights for those months prior, I though I could surely handle that distance.

Upon returning from our run, she turned to me and said “We actually just did three miles — just so you know.”

I was surprised (that I had actually made it without having to stop to walk!) and excited that I had made it that distance! She told me that I seemed I was doing fine at two miles, so she took me on the longer tour through the neighborhood. I told my friend two things – that she was sneaky, and thank you!

After that day I started running more frequently and enjoying it immensely. I was finally burning off post baby weight (that I’d had for four years), building muscle tone and it seemed like my body was really showing it. I decided to sign up for a 5K race, which I loved. There were thousands of people and the atmosphere was amazing. The feeling of crossing the finish line was awesome. I then did a 10K race, which was harder but amazing as well to complete. The final leg of the series was a 10 mile race which I decided to sign up for. Four days before the race, I injured my knee and was unable to run.

Disappointment. Sadness. Frustration. Even a feeling of relief because I’d never run that distance in its entirety.

Three weeks of physical therapy. Three weeks of not running. Three weeks of not working my entire body to get the results I was striving for. It was still exercise, working my muscles, but it was not the same experience for the two hours that was devoted each session as at the gym.

I noticed that I was still as hungry as I was (more frequently while running) during the three week time frame. I was still eating as much as had been while running and it was hard to eat as healthy as I had been, probably due to feeling a tad depressed. I noticed my pants fitting a bit tighter after week two. I knew I had to begin watching my calorie intake, not snack with the kids as much, and watch my meal portions for the rest of the time I would be waiting to get back into a running routine.

Even after the physical therapy visits ended at the clinic, I was required to maintain the stretching and exercises to keep the healing process going. I could only walk for another two weeks. Then do a half mile of running with walking for a week, gradually building up distance over many weeks.

Patience, patience, patience. It did pay off and I am now back into a running routine. After three months I am still building up my distance and pace, but my knee is functioning properly and I am thankful I did not need surgery. By the way, my pants are fitting nicely (I may even need to shop for a smaller size in a few weeks…).