It’s been 5 weeks since I broke my 5th metatarsal. As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I’m extremely limited at the moment: I can’t walk or drive, and it’s been very challenging to say the least; ultra-marathoner to crutcher is not a transition I ever wished for. When I got hurt, I had two choices: I could wallow in despair, lamenting the loss of my fitness and goals for the season, or I could do everything in my power to preserve the base I’ve worked so hard to build, hoping for a swift recovery. I chose the latter.
Although my mobility is limited, I’ve found creative ways to stay fit without walking. Judging by the mirror and the way my clothes fit (I can’t stand on the scale) I would wager that I’m plus or minus 2 pounds from what I weighed the day I got hurt. Here’s what’s kept me fit despite the fact that I can’t put pressure on one foot:
Diet: Hands down, the top reason why I haven’t gained a lot of weight. I’ve drastically cut my caloric intake to compensate for my sedentary state, and in turn, my body is craving fewer calories. It was particularly rough for the first 7-10 days – I had just come off a 10 day stretch where I biked almost 300 miles, not counting the additional swimming and biking, but it’s become progressively easier since then. I eat to my hunger and cut down on snacking – in large part because it’s not easy to get up and grab something from the kitchen.
Core/resistance work: When I first got hurt, I watched some Youtube videos for workout inspiration – the exercises aren’t earth shattering or innovative, but they do enough. I’ve tried to adapt the triathlon-specific weight lifting and core work to whatever I can manage at our apartment with limited equipment. This has translated to a lot of pushups, stability ball crunches, resistance bands, and medicine ball exercises. Between using crutches and the aforementioned workouts, I actually think that I’ve added upper body muscle mass since the injury.
Swimming: Ah, swimming. Swimming is the primary semblance of normalcy I have right now, and I look forward to every swim. It not only kickstarts my brain, but allows me to pick up where I left off so to speak; I’ve had some quality swims this week and feel noticeably stronger than when I first got back into the pool last week. The keys to swimming when you can’t are using the pool lift and a pull buoy. You also need to exercise extreme caution on the pool deck, as a fall could take you back to square 1. The lift allows me to safely enter and exit the pool without risking a fall or impact from jumping in. Although it’s expensive – I have to take an Uber to/from the pool each time I go, it’s a small price to pay for my health right now.
The moment of truth comes next week: the doctor is expecting to see substantial signs of healing by the 6-8 week mark. If my appointment goes well, there’s a good chance that I’ll be cleared to bike indoors (using stiff, carbon-soled shoes) and possibly walk. If it doesn’t go well, then we’ll have to reopen the conversation about surgery, which would effectively shorten my season to September-December – best case. Surgery would be utterly devastating and awful given the amount of time I’ve already spent on the sidelines, but if that does happen, at least I know some tricks for staying fit.