It was August 9th, 2014 and my good friend and I participated in the Jenna Ride hosted by Empire Bikes to raise funds for Jenna. It was a great day, great ride, the pace was just right, my legs felt great and everything was running smoothly. With about 4 miles left to go on the 54 mile ride, a rider up front carelessly decided to move lines in the peloton while we were moving at about 21mph. That careless move caused a chain reaction that ended with me landing in the middle of the street, almost getting hit by a passing car, with a couple riders on top of my bike, a few others running over my wheel, and the peloton of about 80 riders stopped and pulled over to make sure everyone was fine. I was in pain. In order to avoid hitting other riders in front of me, I endowed and somehow, on my front wheel, I maneuvered my bike so that I would land on the outside of the peloton, which is why I almost got ran over by a car. It still didn't stop the riders behind me from crashing and landing on my bike, but I landed hard on my side, bruising my hip and the side of my leg including my knee, and then there were the road rashes on my hands, arms, and legs.
That crash took me out for the week. The following weekend, a few of us decided to go mountain biking, I figured I'd be ok by then. So we're ready to go and as soon as I get on my bike and press down on the pedal to take off, I feel an excruciating pain on my right knee. It was the opposite leg from where all my bruises were from the crash. I had already warmed up, so I massaged it a little and kept going. I figured the pain would go away as it warmed up more, but no, it kept getting worse and worse. We rode 22 miles through Carbon Canyon that day, and the whole ride I was in crazy pain.
I iced my knees when I got home, stretched, massaged and took a bunch of muscle, tissue and joint repairs. The next day, I wanted to see how my knee was so I went out and did a 21 mile loop, heading up towards Mt. Baldy and turning down on Shinn Road. I started off fine until I started to put a little pressure on the pedals, the pain was still there. That's when I knew it wasn't just some random pain... I had an injury that seemed to be getting worse.
So I decided to take a few weeks off the bike to rest, stretch, ice, massage and load up on my repair supplements. This is where the roller coaster ride began. I would rest up, I would feel better, go for a ride, feel good. Ride a few more times and when I would push hard, my injury came back. It's been about a year and half that I've been on this roller coaster. Doctors say there's nothing wrong with my knees, they tell me to rest and take anti-inflammatories. That obviously didn't work, because I had already been doing that.
So last year, on Valentine's Day, I decided to run the L.A. Marathon. I wrote a blog on that, but just to recap, a few weeks before the marathon, my knee pain came back much stronger than before. I had to call my brother to pick me up 5 miles into my training because I couldn't walk. So I stopped my training a few weeks prior to the marathon. The day before the marathon I went for a short run just to see how I was feeling. I didn't feel any pain, so I decided I'd go run the marathon with practically no training.
That was a huge mistake. I finished the marathon, but my knees, my achilles, my hip flexors and my heels were in pain for almost 2 months after I had ran the marathon. My soccer players and coaches would make fun of me because I couldn't walk. I looked funny when I'd try to move.
That's when I came to my senses. I'm certified in fitness, nutrition and sports therapy and I wasn't using any of my knowledge on myself. So I began to train slowly, (no bike, no running), just therapy type training and I kept loading up on my repair supplements. I started off with easy joint movements, stretching, and massaging. I started in April of 2016. For a whole month, it's all I did and little by little I would add super short easy jogs, (like 400 meters), just to see how my legs were doing. Finally about a month into it, I decided to go for my first run. In May 2016 I ran my usual loop around Claremont, which is about 4.1 miles. I averaged 8:01min/mile and I felt pretty good. I continued my therapy type strength training, I changed my running stride, I was feeling better and finally in October I decided to go on my first bike ride. I felt strong, my knee pain had not returned, but I decided I'd do my usual loop up to Shinn Road. Big mistake. As soon as I started climbing, I felt tingling in my knee and by the time I got to the top, I felt the pain return. I was so frustrated and upset at myself for not taking it easy on my first ride back. Fortunately, the pain wasn't as bad. So that weekend I went out for a long, flat, easy 42 mile ride. I felt a little pain, but not as bad as before, which lightened up my spirits.
From there I concluded that I needed to continue strengthening to completely heal. So with the same type of therapy training, I picked it up a few notches, I kept on running and working on my stride. If you follow me on social media, mostly Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: @coachnilo, you can see my training and workouts.
So why am I writing this blog? Well, last week I had a small breakthrough. See, when I didn't have knee pains, I could squat 135 pounds as a warm up. My brother and I would squat 20 reps with 135 pounds. I was able to leg press 360 pounds, (8 x 45 pound plates), and I would do 4 sets of 10-12 reps at this weight. After the marathon, my range of motion and my strength diminished tremendously. When I started my training in April of 2016, I could barely squat the bar. That's why I used dumbbells or just body weight when I worked out my legs. Honestly, I would feel embarrassed at the gym, especially when I would see petite women lifting much more than me. But I had to put my ego aside and I just did what I had to do.
My legs had been feeling pretty strong for the month of December, so last week I decided I would go heavier than what I had been lifting. I was able to squat 3 sets of 6 reps with 135 pounds. I deadlifted 185 pounds - 4 sets of 6 reps. I leg pressed 270 pounds - 4 sets of 6 reps. That's the most weight I have lifted with my legs since 2015. But my week didn't end there.
I also spun on my bike at 90-100 RPM's at 150 watts 3 times last week. Finally, Sunday morning, I ran 13.4 miles at an average pace of 8:01min/mile. The best part is, I haven't felt any pain on my knees, my achilles, my hip flexors or my heels. I do feel a little sore in my calves, but not so sore that I wasn't able to run Monday morning during my team's soccer practice with no pain.
I know it's not a lot of weight and it's not like I lost a limb or something worse. I know there's a lot of people out there that have it way worse than I do, but even though I'm still strengthening my legs, and I may still be prone to re-injuring myself... I have been patient and I've trusted the process. I'm fortunate that I know what I'm doing when it comes to training, and I'm taking small steps so that I don't re-injure myself.
I'm writing this because there's a lot of people who give up too soon. I worked hard to build a foundation to strengthen my injured areas but I didn't put a timeline on when I wanted to heal. If it was up to me, I want to heal already! But some of these things take time, and we don't always have control of when it'll happen. I just know that I want to be able to start competing again, so my main focus is to heal completely. I'm going on 10 months and I'm still not where I was before my injuries, but now that I have a foundation, I'm progressing much faster and I still don't know when I'll be ready to compete again. Should I give up because I didn't heal in 8 weeks or 90 days? Heck no! Way too often we want results "yesterday" and we're not willing to go through the process. We were taught to put a timeline on our goals, but from my experience, when most people don't hit their goals, they become discouraged, lose their drive and give up.
Whether it's in business, weight loss, health issues, relationships, school, sports or in anything we do in life, there's always a process. We just have to make sure that we're taking the proper steps, that we're consistent and that we're moving forward, even if it's tiny steps at a time. Success doesn't move in a straight line. There's always going to be obstacles and set backs, but it's through these challenges that we learn, grow, become better and stronger.
If you ask me, unless I have a deadline, like saving up to buy a present for a birthday or a project in school or at work, why would I place the unnecessary stress of putting a deadline on something I want? If I really want something, who cares how long it takes me to get it, as long as I get it, right? For me, it works to set goals without timelines. I just know what I want. From there, I focus on my daily activity that moves me towards my goals as quickly as possible without taking short cuts. I track my daily activity, review my progress at least once a week and make adjustments as needed. Shooting for that goal now becomes a daily routine or as some call it, it becomes a "lifestyle." Before you know it, I'll be rocking 'n' rolling and off to the races.
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