Follow below as champion ultrarunner Stephanie Howe reports on her progress as she nears the end of a 12 week long recovery from a major achilles surgery. If you've read her previous posts, you know that her road to recovery has had both positive and challenging moments. With a focus on achieving a healthy outlook, Stephanie is more than prepared for the next, and most exciting, step in the process: easing back into running.
By: Stephaine Howe
Focus on the process.
I often catch myself thinking about the future. Dreaming of running in the mountains or toeing the line at races this summer. And although it's ok to think about the big picture, I also need to focus on the now. The process. Because getting too far ahead of myself can create an allusion of somewhere I am not.
I recently listened to a podcast from Running On Om hosted by Julia Hanlon, with guest Lauren Fleshman. In this particular episode, they were discussing dreams and goals. At one point they were talking about what it means to engage in the process, rather than the outcome. This really resonated with me and got me thinking about my own situation. All my forward thinking about the future really pulls me away from where I am right now. The present. How can I bring awareness to exactly where I am at this very minute? How can I live in my now? These thoughts grounded me, in a good way. In a way I needed. Instead of thinking I can't wait for...... , I put my energy into living right now. Because let's face it- that's where I am! Getting too far ahead of myself only brings about wishing for something I don't have. And that's not productive.
Focus has also been a theme for me in another way. As in, the people helping me get through this recovery. Focus Physical Therapy.
Over the past year I've worked closely with physical therapsits Burke Selbst and Peter Schrey, at Focus. They've both been instrumental in helping me troubleshoot past injuries and work through the normal wear and tear that comes with running so much. In the past couple months they have been my rock. I've had a lot of ups and downs post-surgery; and through every imaginable emotion, they have been there to support me, both physically and emotionally. I cannot tell you how many times I've broken down into tears of frustration or sent a panicked email to Burke and Peter. They've gone above and beyond the normal role of a physical therapist. Because of our relationship and the effort they've been willing to put in, I feel like I'm on track.
To compliment my recovery plan from Dr. Alfredson, I've been working with Peter and Burke on a weekly basis to improve my mobility, strength, range of motion, etc. in my left foot. Each week we've worked on progressing and pushing my foot a little further. It's a slow process, but SO important so that when I do return to running, I don't compensate due to strength imbalances. It's incredible how much effort it takes to re-wire the nervous system. I'm now focusing on learning how to walk correctly and engage my calf as I roll off my toe. It's not easy! If you see me walking around town with an intense focused look on my face, that's why!
Next week marks the end of my 12-weeks recovery. In theory, I could start to think about running at that time. And by running I mean like 1 min on, 1 min off x 5. Easing back in very slowly. However, I'm not sure I'm ready yet. I have no desire to jump back in too soon, despite what my mind wants. I want to do this correctly, so that might mean waiting a couple more weeks. I AM planning to at least test the waters, under the guidance of Peter and Burke (so I don't open the flood gates), possibly on the Alter-G next week. Fingers crossed!