At the time of my last PT appointment I had just completed the consolidation to 1 walk per day, for about 70 minutes. In general I carried a kitchen timer set to half of my daily time, and promptly turned around when the timer went off. I was recording my daily time and distance data, though mostly paying attention to the time allotment.
A week after the PT appointment I had an appointment with my surgeon, just under 12 weeks after the surgery. As part of my preparation I looked more carefully at my mileages, while increasing my daily time to 75 minutes. I was quite startled to realize that, during the week of my PT appointment, I had walked 35 miles. In one sense this was simple math, multiplying my time by my speed, but I was still shocked to realize that the weekly total corresponded to several weeks into a marathon training program! And although I had taken a rest day after my recent 6-mile hike, it was only the second rest day since Day 4 after surgery. Once I comprehended all of this, I decided to cut back on my weekly total for a few weeks – even though my walking times were in accordance with my physical therapist’s recommendation. (I’m sure she was not aware that my natural pace had progressed to 15-minute miles on pavement or paved multi-use trails.)
In retrospect I am glad that I had already planned to reduce my walking distance, even temporarily. Just before seeing my surgeon I had new x-rays taken, and they were pronounced good. But when I told him how far I had walked the previous week, he figuratively showed me the Stop sign again.
My new guidance: go only halfway (i.e., not “as tolerated” while listening to my body) until 6 months after surgery. Specifically, no half marathon and no skating until the 6-month milestone. Of course, my initial reaction was great disappointment – until my surgeon explained a little more. Although the initial healing looks good, it takes a number of months – longer than I realized – for the bone to regain strength. In the meantime, particularly with respect to doing too much walking, there is a higher risk of a stress fracture: basically an overuse injury that would result in an increased likelihood of necrosis in the head of my femur. Once I understood this, the proverbial bitter pill was much easier to swallow. I intend to follow my medical advice diligently and carefully in any case, but avoiding necrosis that I might cause is a huge added incentive. Of course, with skating the concern is another fall.
My new/current routine is walking 15-17 miles per week, and I’m consciously walking at a more relaxed pace. I am varying my daily distances to some degree and taking 2 or 3 rest days per week – well, one of those days I go to the gym for upper body work. At this point I don’t have any plan to increase my weekly distance.
As I write this I have passed the 3-month mark, actually 14 weeks with 12 to go until the 6-month milestone. Yes, I’m counting the weeks as I exercise my patience! I noted previously that the 4 weeks from week 2 to week 6 were long, and now I face an even longer plateau period. But as aware as I am of my limitations, I am grateful for what I can do – walks several times a week and even some short hikes – and that I continue to feel great. I am grateful for the amazing support from my family and friends. I also continue to keep my eye on the long-term goal: discovering what the “new me” is able to do, and rejoicing in whatever that turns out to be.