The Mental Part of Recovery is Harder than the Physical

Well, like so much these days, there was good news and bad news.

The good news is that I’m definitely making “appropriate” progress. I can flex and bend my foot more. I have more strength in my ankle (though it is pitifully little) and my balance has really, really increased. This made me quite happy; the first time around, I could balance on my right foot (the healthy ankle) until my PT made me stop at 2 minutes. The bad ankle? 4 seconds. Yes, you read that right; 4 seconds. I’ve increased that to a wobbly 28 seconds, and I felt like a champ. Woohoo for visible progress!

Every time I come in to PT, I can see the progress and the changes, and I can feel them in the things I can do at home. I am so lucky to have Christine to work with and, like I told her today, I know that I will eventually come out of this the best runner I can be.

Physical Therapy Expectations

The bad news…well, I knew it was coming. While I am making great progress, I have a lot more physical therapy to do than what my orthopedist had told me. He set expectations that I would be able to add some run breaks into my walks by June 1. Christine and I did not actually talk about when I might be back to running because I’m nowhere near being able to do so. I’m no PT, but even I can figure out if I’m not allowed to run on a treadmill with 30 pounds less body weight, then I’m not ready for running on the road unassisted. If I can’t walk fast enough to hit that sweet spot where it’s easier to run, then I can’t run.

I have another 3–4 months of physical therapy ahead of me.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was so happy to simply be able to wear two matching shoes, and I need to hang onto that. I’m so very grateful that I can walk on Lady Bird Lake Trail now, and it’s wonderful to have my Thursday mornings back with my friend, Dr. Stephanie. She is kind enough to forego her run to walk with me, and I so appreciate that. And it’s not like I’m giving up any specific plans; I had not planned much of anything for after my big 100-miler, and I certainly haven’t made any plans after 2/06.

Yet, if I’m being completely honest, I miss my friends and the trails sorely. I miss my stress relief, my meditation time. Running has been my go-to friend for many years, the thing that makes the world right when everything is wrong, that gives pleasure and clarity, allowing me to see myself in a positive light. Eh — I’m not going to write any more about what I miss about running because it just makes me sad.

So I’ve learned during all this that 1) exercise was the primary way I kept my weight in check, and 2) I’m an emotional eater, someone who uses food to feel better. Well, you can see where those two things lead. I’m in this circle of feeling bad, not exercising like I’m used to, gaining weight, restricting food/calories in hopes that I lose weight, which in turn makes me feel even more deprived of the things I enjoy. All followed by beating myself up for not being strong enough/smart enough/disciplined enough to lose this extra weight.

Coping with Rehab

The mental part is worse than the physical part. I know I am doing everything in my physical power to help my PT along. I’ll keep working on the holding back the weight gain and fixing the underlying problems–and when I get that licked, I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about my weight in the same way again.  But damn, if this isn’t some hard stuff to do.

Geez, I’d rather run 100 miles any day :0)

(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “The Mental Part of Recovery is Harder than the Physical

  1. So happy to read about your slow but steady progress. I wish I could say something to make it better. Does it help to realize you really did a number on that ankle, and that\’s why it\’s taking so long to rehab it? You are no wuss! Does it help that I\’ve seen way too many reports of big-ass snakes on the trails lately? It\’s too hot and dry and you don\’t need to be on those trails anyway. I\’m certainly not going anywhere near them. As for the food/weight issue, would it help to maybe give yourself a temporary break? This is so very hard. But you know you can control it if you want to. So let yourself enjoy food for now. You know you\’ll be more motivated when it\’s part of a training regime? Alternatively, that suggestion to consult with Meredith is a good one. Maybe she can give you healthier comfort food options?

    Did I help? Probably not. I am so ready for you to be running again, so I\’m sure it\’s multiplied by 1000 for you. Hang in there and keep on venting to us!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.