12 April 2015

Am I Swimming Yet? - Mission 16/60 Update

I'm frequently asked, "How's your shoulder?" My answer is always that it's slowly getting better. It's been about 2 months since my self-inflicted bike crash. I've been to the ER and to Urgent Care. I've seen multiple physicians and had multiple x-rays. I've also been to a physio for rehab. Except for some specific admonitions at the beginning and (presumably) accurate diagnoses and advice on the injury, I've mostly self-directed my progression.

At first I could only swim with one arm, which is what I resorted to so I could participate in
California 70.3 Oceanside. I've gradually added more and more strength training as my shoulder allowed, progressing slowly with the level of work. Range of motion was frequently tested and limits were cautiously challenged.

I have not been perfect. Early on I quickly realized that controlling the pain and relegating workouts to a lower priority were necessary. Yes, at times I was stubborn, but Linda wasn't shy in reminding me what was important. Over the weeks I've sometimes gone a little too far or done a little too much, leaving some pain in it's wake. Of course that's a sign to back off the next time. Running and riding have progressed much faster than swimming (really? no kidding! shocking!)

Though it's slower than swimming one-armed freestyle, I've finally progressed to being able to pull with my left arm and recover it over the top of the water. Certain angles still cause mild pain so I continue to be cautious. How cautious? Me, who keeps track of nearly every repeat interval I swim in the pool, is not paying attention to the pace clock except to help me count how far I've gone. Time hasn't mattered and it won't start mattering until I'm actually able to swim freestyle without feeling pain on every stroke.

On Saturday I swam 1100 yards using both arms. I was amused at how excited I was to have done this since normally that's barely more than a warm up! I am not usually this patient when it comes to such things but the reality is that it makes no sense to force things. I AM challenging my CURRENT limits as I pursue returning to form. My key triathlon races aren't until October and November so I also have the luxury of time. I have faith that I will get back to where I was thanks to the slow, steady progress so far. I'm fortunate that I can see that progress. Sometimes athletes don't have that good fortune, must trust in the process, and believe things will come together in the end. In those times a coach can prove invaluable. Thanks to the knowledge and experience I've gained over the years of being involved in swimming and for the 8 1/2 years of being in triathlon, I feel like I've done a pretty good job of coaching myself along this road to fully recovering (with Linda of course being the voice of reason when I occasionally lose track of the big picture!)

Cycling update: while I've been back on the bike for over a month, physical endurance and speed have been slow to return. It's a bit frustrating but I believe some consistency over time will get me back where I want to be. In the meantime I'm covering fewer miles and struggling to make it up the hills. Step by step... pedal stroke by pedal stroke.

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