Injury Log Part V – Started Running.. a Little

Three months post surgery

Knee surgery insider tip: don’t buy clothes during the surgery-recovery period. I bought a couple of shorts just before surgery and now I can barely fit them. Yes, starting to noticeably gain muscle.

Went for my first long ride after surgery. Took the bike on the hills north of Mizil, hitting my favorite climb in the area: Boboci. I actually like that climb so much that I did it twice. It’s relatively short, but quite steep, with a gradient of up to 20%. It was pretty interesting to see the difference in power between my two legs. I was on the lowest gear and my injured leg was barely pedaling, struggling to keep the bike’s momentum. Meanwhile, the other leg was jerking the bike forward with every stroke, almost yanking it from underneath me. I needed a lot of short breaks in order to gasp for air and relax my heart rate. The hypoxia and tachycardia seemed to subjectively dilate time, even though I needed just 13 minutes to get to the top. At home I saw on Strava that I didn’t do too bad – I was just 13% over my best time on that climb.

I saw they’re working on the road through Udresti. When they finish it, we’re gonna have a new climb up to Tataru. Meanwhile they still have a little over one kilometer to go, near the top.

Three and a half months

Went on a fast ride north of Bucharest. And, to actually have a fast ride, I drafted behind Alex. My only way to bike consistently at over 30 kmph at the moment.

Went over 100 kg on the leg press, using both legs. I can still feel the right leg way behind the left one, but I can also feel it getting stronger (and the left leg as well).

Four months

Took a strength test at the physical therapy gym. A power meter connected to a laptop, attached to the leg curl machine, measured the force of my hamstrings and quads for each leg. Here are the results:

The muscles on my injured leg are 25-30% weaker than on the healthy one. The quads are pretty strong – I’ve been using them extensively over the past few years (biking, running, hiking, ski touring) and it shows. I cannot say the same regarding my hamstrings. They’re quite weak. I now know what to focus on more during the next period.

Four and a half months

Also measured my legs’ circumference, just above the knee. Healthy one: 49 cm. Injured one: 45 cm. Quite the difference. With this in mind, my physical therapist has recommended postponing running until my legs are more balanced in order to avoid any muscle/ligament strains.

Meanwhile, I can feel the injured leg improving. Descending stairs is starting to feel normal (not the same can be said about climbing). While climbing a steep section by bike, I don’t feel the difference between the left and right legs the same way as one month ago.

FINALLY managed to fully flex my knee, such that my heel touched my but. In one month I hope to be able to do it without requiring half an hour or warm up exercises beforehand.

Went on another bike ride. The difference between my legs while climbing steep sections wasn’t as obvious as one month ago yay! Also discovered the very nice very challenging Varf climb. And saw a Thracian necropolis at the top!

Five months

Took the strength test again. The results are below. All the numbers improved, but most importantly the injured leg is now at 85% of the healthy one.

That can only mean one thing: it’s time to run! So that’s exactly what I did! For 2 straight minutes! Yeah!

Also went mountainbiking for the first time in almost a year I guess. Was fun!

Five and a half months

Continuing my running drills. Got up to around 10 minutes of running now. Experiencing some pain/discomfort on the inner side of my injured knee. I guess the muscles stabilizing it are not yet strong enough for this kind of strain. Nothing than can’t be fixed with patience and physical therapy though.

First serious hike since January. Was awesome!

I’m now able to climb stairs pain free! With the exception of running, jumping, lunges (having my injured knee in the rear still triggers a lot of pain) and other activities that require speed or explosive strength (for which my muscles and ligaments are not yet ready), I feel pretty much like a normal person. Even if I’m running for just a few minutes, it’s actually more than how much an average person runs!

Did a couple more road bike rides. Climbed 2500 meters in one day. Also set personal records on some all-time favorite climbs, such as Boboci and Sultanu.

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