A funny thing happened at the beginning of my lifting session on Wednesday. I went through the beginning of my pre-ski/post-physical-therapy workout as I always do, stacking up 50 pounds on the quad-extension machine for single-leg quad extensions.
I did my first rep … and double-checked to make sure the weight was correct. It felt jokey-light, like I had accidentally stacked 15 pounds instead of 50. The weight was correct. Well, hello, quad! Welcome back!
Longtime readers of this blog know that quad strength was a huge challenge in my post- ACL tear comeback. A quick recap: My right quadricep muscle fell asleep after surgery, woke up after weeks of electronic stimulation in physical therapy, got strong enough to start playing my sports again, got lazy on hills and forgot to hold my patella in place, got strong enough to hold my patella at all times … but never felt as solid as it did before the injury.
For the past several weeks, increasing quad strength (in addition to overall strength and agility) before the ski season has been my main workout focus, and I’d started to think that I had reached my limit around 50 pound for single-leg quad extensions—arguably the most important and most annoying exercise in my current lineup. But there it was Wednesday, when I least expected it: Evidence that I have grown stronger.
This elicited another pleasant feeling, one I haven’t experienced since the Bay Bridge Swim in June: the feeling that the hay is in the barn, that I’ve prepared for an athletic challenge to the best of my ability. Can I tell you how much nicer it is to feel this way than to think: “Huh. It’ll be interesting to see if I can pull this off?”
The best part: This isn’t just about the ski season. I’ve been training for distance events for long enough to know that ignoring even the slightest of muscle imbalances is a one-way ticket to an overuse injury. Knowing that I am past the “grossly imbalanced” phase makes me feel much better about increasing my running mileage.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the current state of skiing, too, since I’ve been blathering about Whitetail’s snowmaking all week. The absurdly warm weather has obviously halted snowmaking in its tracks, leaving me feeling not only disappointed, but kind of stupid, like a kid who’s been overexcited about Santa’s impending arrival only to learn on Christmas Eve that he doesn’t exist. Keep thinking snow; I’ll keep my mouth shut to avoid jinxing things again. In the meantime, I’m finding comfort in the fact that my quads are both ready to go.