Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Knees

They’re like a punk duo on the verge of breaking up: loud with the desperation of remaining relevant and pumped full of drugs.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I've wanted to use it for so long.  This may start out sounding like a whining session, but I hope it doesn't echo in your mind that way once the post has concluded.

Two nights ago I made a startling discovery: my left knee has no strength.  And think that sentence in your head in Inigo Montoya’s voice from The Princess Bride when he says of Wesley “He has no strength” after he’s been mostly dead all day.

I saw an exercise I’d wanted to do.  I’m not sure what it’s called, but basically you sit in a chair and stand up using only one leg.   No assistance from your arms or other leg.  Then you lower back to a seated position.  You do a set of that and switch legs.

Me and the kids were sitting at the kitchen table the other night and I remembered the exercise.  I cranked off ten reps with my right leg like a boss.  My Benedict Arnold left knee buckled when my fat thigh was an inch off the chair.  No strength.  I couldn't do a single press with my left leg.

I went ahead and did a full set of them with assistance from my arm.  And I realized all of the sudden that this has been a long standing problem, and I just didn't know it.

There is a distinct memory of training for one of my two Leadville races and thinking my right thigh was getting overworked all the time.  I just thought it was weaker.  I didn't realize it was the stronger stem and working overtime to make up for the laziness of my left atrophied boneless stub of a limb. 

All of those times I've struggled to get out of the car or walk up or down stairs after a particularly hard running or cycling effort have been a failure of my left knee.  I never really noticed it was one joint failure over another or that it wasn't both of my forty year old knees.

This is a good thing.  I can work to strengthen the knee now before I have a serious injury.  It’s never completely given out on me or dumped me on my face.  It obviously slows me down, but it’s not completely hindered me to this point.  Build strength.  Foster joint health.  These are the things I will do going forward.

I took off on a mountain bike ride yesterday.  I had a meeting in Frankfort.  Yeah, I headed to the state capitol on election day.  It was oddly quiet.  Anyway, I held back.  I didn't slug my way around CVP like I normally would.  I kept my gears low and tried to spin fast as I cruised around the park.  I was berating myself for loving the 1x9 setup.  A granny gear would have been really cush on my knee at the pace I rode.

I did my DIY home physical therapy when I returned to the Bikeport.  I’m going to drop the weight, strengthen the core, limbs, and mind.  And I’m going to go into 2015 in better shape than I've ever been in before.

Night before last I made a bread run to town on the Cannonball.  Oh yeah, I was back on the cargo bike.  It was a Yehuda Moon moment.  Mandy almost had a dinner of homemade chili and baked potatoes finished and said crusty bread would be nice.  I had time.  I slapped front and rear lights on the bike and rolled out of the Bike Cave under human power.  There’s just something sublime about riding on the road I grew up on under a waxing gibbous moon with a crisp tinge in the air to get some bread.

I need to ride more.  I need to ride to town more.  I need to stop feeding my laziness and choose the bike over the car when I’m only going to town.  So there’s a beast of a hill no matter which way I go.  I can ride over them all hauling two kids and groceries.  I've done it before.  Awright, until my knee is stronger I’ll not haul the kiddos.

It’s time to go back to being a car-lite Chainring.

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