coming back from injury - attitudes and expectations

The second half of 2014 wasn't my best year. I fractured my ankle in June, and then pulled my groin in November. And I don't have a specific injury to site, but my knee has been tweaky and just hasn't felt right.

Add in the extra time commitments from coaching soccer and the holidays, and I had gotten off track (to say the least) on working out. I've even gained some weight from the lack of activity.

So, I get to the end of the holidays feeling a lot better, and wanting to get back into the swing of things, but still a little concerned about my knee. What's a good game plan for getting back into working out when you're not 100%? I decided to find out.

Aerobic Activity - I went for a jog with some interval runs mixed in - not full-out sprints, but a good running pace - and I felt ok. I went about 2 miles; not an endurance feat by any means, but enough to know whether my body would feel pain from the repetitive motion. Nope - so far so good.

Sports / Games / Competition - Next I played a VERY slow game of soccer. I did not push myself to the breaking point, selling out my body to save a goal or anything like that. I played mostly at jogging speed, with a few bursts of exertion to make a forward run or to get back on defense. No injury setbacks to report - check.

Weight Lifting - Finally I did a kettlebell workout, but I used my wife's 15 lb bell. It felt funny to use something so light, but it felt great to be able to get through the motions and put some stress on my body. I did swings, cleans, snatches, figure 8s, around the worlds, presses, and lawnmower pulls, and when I did them quickly and without rest I was able to get a great sweat going. Any pain? Nope - just some muscle soreness the next day, which was to be expected. Ok to continue.

It can feel a little scary working out again after injury, wondering if your body will hold up. It also takes a bit of a mental reset - you have to give yourself the ok to not max yourself out or hit a PR. In fact, if you're not ready for it, it can feel discouraging to run so slowly or to lift such light weights. But it also feels great to get back to exercising. Time will tell whether I ever get back to my previous levels or not. If so, great! If not, great - I'll set new PRs and new expectations.

I'm sure age plays a role as well. When I was in my teens and 20s I would have demanded a full recovery to previous levels from myself. Today, in my 40s, I'm happy to settle for fitness.

I'm looking forward to seeing where I can go from here - hopefully continued improvement without any setbacks. Cross your fingers for me..

- Chris Butterworth