|Knee Brace like mine|
The next year (or the year after?) Ananda and I did the half-marathon, same course in Kailua. This time I had run a few times, but definitely didn't train like I had for the first one. I hadn't felt like it. I was still paddling, so I was exercising, getting in good cardio, just not running. That year the half-marathon felt great! I obviously didn't win it or come anywhere near the top 25% of runners, but I ran the whole thing at a reasonable pace. Of course at about mile 10 my knee started to hurt and I "ran through it" like us athletes are wont to do. Needless to say, my knee never fully recovered. A combination of not running enough and not stretching enough (try ever) really put stress on my knee. I would start running again to get back into shape then every time my knee would hurt I would stop again. I started to regain weight. I went to a podiatrist who had no concept of sports injuries and told me I would never run again. So I didn't for a good 6 months. I rested, I swam and hiked some, I wore a knee brace and I searched the internet. I finally figured out that I had a common injury among runners that we get when we overtrain with running. Our muscles in the legs get super tight and if we don't stretch them out enough (or at all) it ultimately pulls at the tendon's hold on our knee. Now I know about it, but it never totally goes away.
So why is this a blessing? I would have told you to shut the hell up if you had told me it was a blessing in disguise or some such nonsense at the time. I might have used some expletives and most likely would have flipped you the bird. Today though I realized that it ultimately has changed how I exercise. And how EFFICIENT at exercising I have become. The first exercise I got into that didn't hurt my knee was kickboxing with Master Smith at Smith Taekwondo in Kaneohe. That was freaking awesome! Those workouts were some of the best in my life! I tried to get all of my friends and my mom to try it out. I was in super good shape, muscular but not bulky and so strong! And I only went twice a week. 2 hours a week and I was super fit! The only problem and ultimately why I changed sports is that I didn't actually want to get in the ring with people and fight. I had absolutely no desire for it, I only wanted to workout for fun, but I felt like I was being steered in that direction. Next I tried Taekwondo at the YMCA. That was super fun, but it wasn't competitive enough. I started to not look forward to going to the workouts and started to gain weight. It wasn't as efficient. I went to two 2 hour classes, but I didn't get as much out of it. I got my orange belt and quit. But I was on the right track. Right now I'm doing Crossfit. I'm not married to it, but it's hitting me on all levels of motivation, efficiency and fun!
If I hadn't hurt my knee I would have continued to depend on running as my main source of exercise. It kept me skinny basically and gave me enough of a cardio workout, but it took so much time! I felt like I had to run all the time to stay in shape. And my knee wouldn't allow me to do that anymore. My knee being hurt led me to figure out how to gain the most benefits from exercise without working out forever. It also led me to Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint and his theories on how much you need to exercise. I don't follow anyone on faith alone, I have experimented and have found that it's true. Lift Heavy Things twice a week, Sprint once a week and as much as possible throughout the week, Move Slowly. Also throw in Play whenever possible. So much more fun and I spend way less time "working out" then I ever did. I feel like I'm having a good time. Even if I'm not looking forward to Crossfit cause I'm tired or cranky or it's early in the morning it's such a short workout that I can just tell myself to get it over with. (Afterwords I'm always in a good mood and energetic, but it gets me going to look at how short the workout is.)
Conclusion: My knee told me I was doing the wrong thing for my body. I was overusing one form of movement. I needed to find more efficient exercises. It led me to less time working out and more time having fun. (It now also tells me "no seriously, cut the grains out of your diet")
What is your body telling you? Will you listen with patience and love instead of judgment? Could be the best thing you ever do for yourself.