Long distance training with a knee replacement

Apart from the hamstring strength, which is still preventing stand up climbing, me and this knee are doing just fine and long distance training is going well. Only a month ago, I was ready to throw the towel in!

Since hooking up with Zwift a few weeks ago, I have found it a ton easier to get regular kilometers in than ever.

  • I can ride whatever the weather is doing outside
  • I have stats, other riders, moving scenery and a range of guest worlds to keep me interested.
  • I just push myself, I don’t even think about what the knee can / can’t do any more.

That last one is the most important side shift in my training so far. For so many years I have been dominated by what the knee will or will not let me do, that I have almost forgotten what it was like before that. I always used to push the envelope. high level age group racing at world level never came easy to me. I always had to really push myself to the limit to keep earning my GB spot. Every race start line was a major achievement.

So, when I started to struggle to keep the same training pace and could no longer hit the numbers, that was when I stopped. That was 8.5 years ago. That is one seriously long time to be away from regular multisport training. So much so I almost feel like I am starting over: but with a bit of ‘I have done it before so I can do it again’ knowledge under my belt.

8.5 years. That is how long I was riding the slippery slope of what is a major knee injury. That is how long it took to ‘get bad enough’ for them to do anything about it. That is a very long time of deconditioning.

These are the battles I am now facing.

Benefits of being an athlete post knee replacement

Yes, I do see some benefits here of having a knee replacement and trying to get back to high level competition. When I last raced, I was a teacher. I am now a personal trainer and massage therapist. There is one advantage right there!

  • This time round I have a much finer tuned knowledge of the anatomy of the knee, what hurts, (exactly what hurts) and when and usually also why. I can then use my knowledge of being a personal trainer to address this.
  • I am a ‘beginner athlete’ but with a returning athletes racing and training knowledge.
  • I have some residual fitness: this gives me a few tiny steps ahead from where I started out last time.
  • I know I have bloody mindedness, will power and the ability to endure incredible pain. This should bode well when it comes to putting myself into the hurt locker on race day!
  • Lets face it: anyone who has survived a knee replacement and defied all the odds of what is possible fitness wise post surgery has already demonstrated that anything is possible. right?

On todays long ride, my legs totally ran out of steam and I had to abort my original plan and shorten the ride. This is literally just fitness and strength endurance. But do you know what did happen? the right quad was equally as sore and totally spent as the left. I am not kidding myself. I know it did not do as much of the work: the uneven loading specially on hills, is still giving me back ache, but the positive here is that I managed to continually engage it to the point of fatigue.

I am seeing that as a major triumph in itself! Now I need to work on the pull up part of the pedal stroke and give my poor quads some help!

All in all, feeling bloody good all things considered.

Oh, and did you know, in just over 7 weeks it will be 12 months since I had this knee replacement! WOW! Most people say, my gosh hasn’t that gone fast. Nope. not for me! It has been long, painful and at times almost broke me, but it has been worth it!

2 Comments on “Long distance training with a knee replacement

  1. I am totally spent just reading this Mel! Well done on a great achievement.

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