Meet Carol!

Training with an injury – learning to listen to your body

This blimmin knee injury…

My name is Carol, I feel the cold easily, carry pocket tissues, I have arthritis in in my knee and, no, I am not over 70.
Back in the spring of ’10, a simple rollerblading outing ended very badly for me – it ended with a broken knee cap and learning to walk again. Scroll down for the gory/dull details.
I am also a former fat kid who loves and is determined to exercise, specifically (but not limited to) Crossfit.
One of the main criticisms of Crossfit is that people are encouraged to push themselves too hard and too fast, resulting in poor form and injury.  I am definitely guilty of this and there have been a few times where I push through the pain and have to fashion my limp into a swagger for a week afterwards but I have to remind myself that 5 minutes of, in essence, showing off is not worth having my knee replaced at 35.
The thing is, this is not confined to Crossfit, this is any person in any sport that wants to do well. Who started this rumour? You sir, are wrong. It has been popularised alongside the growing popularity of Crossfit and people wanted to get better, quickly. I have never been to a single session where I was pushed against my will, my form was not corrected or I have been injured. I have never been told to just carry on despite an injury, in fact, I have been told to stop.
I know there are people out there who have hurt themselves but why aren’t they engaging their own common sense?
No one goes to a class with the intention of crying on the coach when asking for the exercise to be modified but, hey, you go with it (Thanks Zak and Nick) but crying in front of the whole class when you collapse from overdoing it and don’t let anyone near you because then you have to admit to not shaving your legs, what? it was WINTER, is much worse.
I have resigned myself to the fact that I have to take it easy. I have to tailor my workouts and routine to my body and what I can do. This isn’t always easy for me to accept.
I don’t always LOVE being the only one in the class asking for an alternative exercise, assuming everyone else thinks I just can’t handle it, guess what? Everyone is thinking about their own exercise, big head. I have been in many classes in those there normal gyms where instructors have rolled their eyes at me assuming I just don’t want to do something – thanks guys, feeling great!
I also really struggle with not seeing ‘gains’ as quickly as everyone else with certain moves but, it’s not the end of the world, I have some killer dance moves in my back pocket.
Luckily, I have had some great support and advice from some excellent coaches at The Athlete centre, Didcot. I have been there long enough for the nagging to have set it and a simple concerned glance in their will get any exercise modified meaning that I still get ugly.
The ‘accident’

Back in the Spring of ’10, on a sunny and slightly hungover Sunday afternoon in Spain, two friends decided to don their newly bought roller blades and scoot along the promenade.

Whilst packing my trusty backpack with water and a  jumper,  I looked across at my cumbersome knee pads and decided to forego them on this occasion, instead taking a snack (probably) and set off for some fun.

*note that I am wearing knee pads in this picture so wasn’t actually the same day. I am just giving you a taste of how fun and fancy free we were*

Towards the end of the evening, I started making my way back and was going a little faster than I was comfortable with towards a crossing in the road. In a panic, I grabbed onto a lamppost and fell to the ground, landing with all of my weight onto my knee.
I can’t quite remember the pain other than it was horrible but it was nothing compared to what was to come over the next week, months and even now, 6 years later.

Having broken my knee cap in half and having to undergo an operation to fit the above bad boys, it started a long road to full recovery. I shan’t bore you with details (although, feel free to grab me one day for the full low down) but I spent several weeks in the blistering 40 degree heat in a full cast and wheelchair. Fortunately, I had some of the best friends a girl could ask for and was well looked after.

Those few months are now a slight blur but I had to learn to walk again. It took around 8 months before I was back to what I would consider normal.

Get to the point, I hear you cry. Yes, yes, sorry (have just found the photo adding feature) 

Well, after getting into exercise again but having to be aware of my knee and had many a frustrating session of not being able to go as hard or as fast I want to, sometimes battling between whether I was just being a pansy or I was seriously hurting myself, the pain in my knee was becoming all to constant so I carried myself off to the doctors.

1 MRI scan later informs me that at 29, I have ‘moderately severe’ arthritis. Moderately severe? what even is that? and a repetitive strain injury, from not looking after myself properly.


The conclusion? Listen to your body. Don’t be a pansy but don’t push yourself to pain. No one else is watching your reps or counting your weights. Talk to your coaches and don’t be embarrassed to do something different. Your coaches would rather have you in class than at Zumba!