It’s been a lengthy and arduous road to arrive at this moment (well…at least for the injured one, anyway…) but this week Riley felt emotionally and physically prepared to (drumroll) attempt running. It would be the first time since June 2nd …and while this may seem fairly recent to folks like you and me, let’s just say it’s approximately…hmm…6 months or so, in Soccer Player Time. Seriously, I’m not sure anyone on Team WestEnders can put their finger on a period when either of the boys has gone that long without their sneakers hitting the sidewalk…or turf. So we knew it was probably going to be slow…definitely tiring…and possibly-but-hopefully-not painful.
The orthopedist gave us a handy program to follow, which lays out a very organized schedule of intervals, to effect a gradual return to full-on running. For example, the first step calls for alternating 5 minutes of walking with 1 minute of running, repeated 5 times. When Riley showed this to his physical therapist, however, she made a few minor adjustments—such as starting with a 10-minute warmup (always a good idea, anyway) and beginning with only 4 rounds, to see how it goes.
Based on 2 years of experience tooling around our neighborhood, I had my own suggestion: avoid the hills for now (some of which are kind of daunting, even for those in “regular shape”) and use the Middle School’s track as an easier option until you get some stamina and strength built back up in those legs. And since he might want encouragement and/or company on this undertaking, I offered to be his Running Buddy on his initial foray back onto the pavement. (Even though I’ve always been what you might call…an “anti-social runner”, preferring solitude and tunes over chatting during my sweat sessions…but that’s just how supportive a mother I am—pats self on back and adds a tally to the Parental Win column. Oh…and also, I should remember to relish our little jaunts while they last…because the truth is, this is quite possibly the only time he’ll ever be striding at MY speed…)
Anyway, we even got a relatively cool…ish…day for our venture: it was only in the low 80s when we set out, with some fortunate cloud cover. (The freakin’ HUMIDITY is another story, but we’re choosing to ignore it…as best we can….until it gives up and goes the HECK away…as soon as possible, thankyouverymuch!) I’ve gotta say, it felt kind of…momentous…as we approached our first 1-minute jog. I had to remind myself not to hold my breath (NOT very helpful for cardiovascular workouts) as I waited for Riley to tell me…anything at all about how he was doing.
When no comments were forthcoming, I had to pointedly ask, “Well…how was that?” In typical male fashion he shrugged and replied, “Okaaaay. Feels kind of…strange.” (Yeah, that’ll happen when you haven’t done this for a while—alrighty then, onward we go!) After the next couple of cycles, he reported that he was getting “a little stiff” and that his calves were “pretty tight”. Also normal and expected--but the reeaaally important thing was: he noticed no actual discomfort, other than muscular. So we forged ahead until we’d finished the prescribed amount, then stretched everything thoroughly at home and crossed our fingers that there would be no repercussions either later that evening or the next day.
Aaaannnnd, today he says: he feels just fine. (Yaaayyy!) According to his self-evaluation: a little sore when he got out of bed, but walking around loosened him right up. This afternoon he shared the news with his physical therapist, who recommended that for next time (that would be “tomorrow”) he can go ahead and skip right to the next level: 4 sets of walking for 4 minutes and running for 2. Whoo hoo! Progress is happening, people!
Thus, while his teammates are on the field sprinting and kicking their way through the first official drills of the season tomorrow evening, he and I will do our part to continue his rehab and get him ready to join them. You can just call me…a very specialized…temporary...personal trainer. Yeah, that’s it—and I even accept payment in the form of (gluten-free, vegan) COOKIES (tell your friends)!