Thursday, April 11, 2013

Brace Yourself...Or Don't

Most people who know me as a runner know that a knee brace is one of my usual accessories...
This comes courtesy of an overuse injury first sustained in the summer of 2010 and then worsened over that winter. I got to a point where I couldn't stand for long periods of time without a stabilizing brace. I wore that for about a month and then did some physical therapy exercises and cycling and it got better. I didn't need to wear the stabilizing brace to walk anymore and I could finally use stairs without my knee buckling again but it still didn't feel the same. I was nervous to do anything on it. I used the elliptical and bikes at the gym and tried step class but my fear was making me more uncoordinated than usual (and that's really saying something!)

I felt like such a wimp.

I started with a personal trainer in January of 2012 and got a knee sleeve to wear while I built the strength back up. It was nice to feel like I had the extra support and then I finally got up the nerve to start running with Building Steam. Always with the knee brace though. If I didn't have it I felt certain that I was going to injure myself worse. I relied on it so heavily. And still did up until last week. Finally my CrossFit trainer called me on it and said that he had seen me with the knee brace for a really long time but said he didn't even think I actually needed it anymore. He said that he sees lots of people that just end up hiding behind the knee brace.

...People like me. I started to realize how heavily I was relying on the knee brace to perform. And how I was using it as an excuse for some of my failures. How ridiculous is that? My knee hasn't really hurt me for a long time and my left knee was almost starting to hurt because I was putting more pressure on it by favoring my right knee. I made the decision to ease off the knee brace. I took it off and ran 3 miles last Saturday without it. Knee didn't hurt. I did 3 test WODs at CrossFit on Monday without it, some of which included box jumps. Knee didn't hurt.

I don't need the knee brace. It was a great help to me last year when I was regaining the strength but running on it for so long has made it strong and I can live without it now.

I'm sure there's a universal lesson to be learned here about how if you rely on something for so long it's good to try to live without it - yadda, yadda. But to me...I took the knee brace off and did a 1 mile time trial in 7:36 without expending my full to me losing the knee brace is going to gain me a whole lot more confidence to perform and hopefully surpass my goals. No more excuses.

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