Accident Recovery and more...

Three months from the date of the bike accident I am finally updating my blog. After time, thoughts are more cohesive, and I feel motivated to use my experiences to aid others who might be interested. The past three months have required adjustments beyond that of not working out. Work at the store outside of paper pushing and chatting with customers was almost impossible while leaning on a walker or holding crutches. But I am thankful that I can recover from an injury which is ‘black and white’, just a bone and stuff to fix the bone. I am healing; I may have running complications but most of me works pretty darn well. The 90 day recovery period ended (not in a flash) and the go-ahead to start weight bearing reopens projects put on hold including adding PART II of training for an Ironman at 61 (vs 60).

During these three months, what was I able to do with all this non-working out free time? I sure did not accomplish as much as I thought I would; perhaps throwing my random ideas on paper will help me sort it out. So, I will try:

- I experienced no revelation. Just like expecting life answers to drop down into my head during a long triathlon ride, I come up short. Other than achieving simple decisions like when to pedal hard and when to drink and eat, this ‘free’ injury time delivered the same. I tackled simple things like paying bills, icing my leg, sleeping more and trying to swim with sore ribs. I wanted to figure out life’s transitions, but when I was truly, physically recuperating with little energy, deep forward-thinking thoughts did not easily enter my head. I had to focus and discipline my thoughts to pull out some satisfying, personal observations of what a break in my normal lifestyle illuminated and find some meaningful take-aways.

- One major and very warm feeling generated from these past three months and as corny as it sounds, is APPRECIATION for friends. Those who are dear to me, including everyone at work, supported me in many unique ways. Warm words, beautiful wild flower arrangements at my desk, assistance in carrying paperwork, cheerful words of encouragement, homemade bone broth, homemade crusty bread, the opening of doors, funny socks, satin pillowcases to keep wrinkles away (so the box says), visits from folks with busy live, thoughtful notes sent to the store, helpful, free PT advice, sharing of icing-machines and electric stims… I feel so fortunate for it all, and I know in return I MUST do the same for others, when they need it, no matter how busy I am. Not much else matters outside love and friendship (besides money to pay bills!)

- Reducing carbs really does keep one from gaining weight. Since I went from 12+ hours / week of endurance workouts to zero (or maybe two), Eliminating grains and sugars and eating just protein, veggies and good fats is just not a fad, the diet really works. I kept good nutrition simple to eliminate counting calories (thoughts of which I did not want to occupy my mind). I became pleased with myself; I found discipline within me if I REALLY wanted the outcome. Eating well was the one thing I could control, and improved nutrition boosted my spirits.

- I did not read the number of books I thought I would. I have come to realize, I read to relax from a hectic day of movement. When I do not stress my body muscularly, I do not want to sit even more and read. So, I will not wish anymore for unbroken free time to read. Life’s contrasts are important to me. Relaxing after a hectic day, healthy food after hard exercise, a warm bath after a blustery ski, two healthy legs after three months of a bum one…. all heighten one’s senses.

- My body did not crumble into a pile of dust w/o exercise and I remained busy. Having only one functioning leg and a pile o’ broken ribs, I eliminated a full race schedule from June thru September: the Minnetonka, Chisago, Heart of the Lakes and Door County triathlons / Lutzen 99er / the Sadistic Century / Afton Trail run and of course, the Madison Ironman. Just how I expected complete them all in addition to work was quite ambitious, and ultimately ridiculous of me. Yet the new goals I added more than filled my ‘free’ race time and I still have not finished: 1) my health coaching certificate 2) the “How To Learn Outlook” seminar set 3) organizing my earrings 4) categorizing work credit card expenses 5) resolving our sales tax audit (still a nightmare) 6) registering for more than one drawing class 7) practicing my drawing 8) swimming more efficiently after a summer of only swimming 8) learning my power meter and MANY more.

- Life really is an adventure and new unknowns will be fun exploring. How will I, at 60, best regain fitness having taken three months off from elevating my heart rate? In the big health picture, could this physical break be positive since I have not had a lay off like this, even while pregnant, since I started working out in 1984? How can I share with others who might find it interesting (like I do), how to build fitness after a setback, with a weak leg? Will I be able to participate in what I love and what keeps me sane after a busy day? Running pain free in the autumn woods, feeling the crisp cold freedom of ski racing and just being in the outdoors boosts my energy to handle life’s twists and turns.

- Lastly, we are all stronger than we realize. A family member just was operated on to remove a long growing pituitary tumor. Me dealing with crutches was nothing as compared to assisting a loved one negotiate and recuperate from a brain tumor that was stealing eyesight. Years of living have shown me I can always get what is super important, done. We need to be flexible enough to alter priorities when the need arises, for ourselves and for others. And in doing so, we can gain a different type of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment than found from completing a hard workout or race. As simple and redundant as it sounds, family, friends and making positive adventures out the ordinary are the primary ingredients in a healthy life. That’s my conclusion from laying low the past three months

- Jan Guenther

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