As much as I like to dictate to my body what it should do, as I get older I’m noticing it doesn’t always want to cooperate the way it used to. Last year, I rode myself into a serious case of tendonitis in my knee that limited my on-bike time for a few months. It was a classic case of mind versus body, with the body eventually having the final word and saying “enough”.
With the help of a good physical therapist and a wonderful wife that reminded me on a daily basis to not push too hard, I eventually healed up and I’ve had a few months of relatively pain-free riding… until this week. I’m not sure when it began, but somewhere along the way I started riding harder and started taking fewer rest days off the bike. On top of it, I fell back into my old habit of ignoring my body’s signals, and when my knee started getting sore a couple of weeks ago, I looked the other way and convinced myself one or two days off the bike would be enough. Well, it wasn’t.
To make a long story short, I ended up laid-up over the weekend, off the bike again, and sorely P.O.’d at myself for making the same mistake that I made just last year.
The good news is that I now have more weapons to combat my knee pain in the form of stretching and strengthening exercises picked up from my physical therapy sessions last year. Even though the pain for the first couple of days was as bad as last time around, I’m recovering much more quickly and I’m already back to walking a fair distance every day. I should be back on the bike within a week if things continue to progress along at this pace.
This recent episode got me questioning why it happened again and what I might learn from the experience. Why can’t I slow down and take a break when I should? Why do I have to push my body to the point of injury before I can excuse myself for taking day off?
The reason, of course, is this commitment I’ve made to myself, this—I hate to say it—obsession with minimizing my car-time and getting where I need to go using as little energy as possible. And the solution to my problem, of course, is a little moderation. I need to ease up and take a few rest days if my body is hurting. I need to not mentally beat myself up for “wimping out” and accepting a lift to the train station. I need to give myself permission to conserve my body so I can keep doing this until I’m 90 years old. And most importantly, I need to remember that it’s not what happens this week or the next, but what happens over the long run, that really counts.