3 weeks into recovery, and I’m not even halfway to getting back on the court.
It so frustrating.
But I have to calm down.
The only way through an injury is time. And the only way through time, is patience.
For the record though, patience is a bitch. It shoves you when you’re trying to take things slow, drags you down when you’re trying to push through, follows you home after training, and bites you while you try to rest up for day two of the fight. And day three, and day four, and five. Et cetera.
The problem is, patience isn’t something I can break through in training. It’s not a physical barrier I can bring down like getting faster or getting stronger. It just is.
I’ve spent so long focused on how to improve my game by doing specific things and constantly thinking about how I play that simply waiting out an injury feels so idle. There’s no specifics, and thinking about the game without being able to play it only makes patience more frustrating.
But there’s another way to beat it.
To just let it go.
Physiotherapy is in the works and I’m still ‘banned’ from basketball, but at least I can move around now. So I started looking for something else, something new to distract from how slowly time was moving. Something to take my mind off the court. Basically, I needed a new workout that didn’t involve basketball.
And that’s how I ended up in the gym.
Let me start off with complete honesty here, I’m not much of a gym goer. I’m far from the type of guy who stays in there for 2-3 hours like I’m attending some college lecture. I go in for the basics, game strength, and general fitness to avoid a heart attack at 35. But let’s face the facts, I’m 5’9”, 63kg and fresh out of growth spurts. In simple terms, visualize a skinny guy of permanently average height. Yeah, that’s me.
Don’t even ask why I play basketball.
Now that I don’t have to split my time between the gym and basketball training, I spend pretty much all of my free time in there. Which is good because I’m learning a lot. And I’m learning a lot because as it turns out, despite the few times I’ve been there before, I don’t know jack about the gym. I’ve had more than one awkward conversation with someone twice my size asking one simple question: “What are you doing?”
The truth is, I have NO IDEA.
So for the past week I’ve been tagging in with a friend. Someone who does spend 2-3 hours in the gym, and knows exactly what they’re doing. I knew I could trust him because we were pretty similar when we entered our first year of college. And now he’s bench pressing 50kg+. I mentioned I only weigh 63kg right?
Honestly I’m straight up terrified of what could happen if I ever got on his bad side.
The college gym isn’t a big place. It’s a tiny metal shed with weights, barbells, dumbbells, a squat rack and benches littered all over the place. But that tiny shed is a whole other world of its own. There’s no official sign at the door on how tall or strong you should be to enter, but as a (recently) concerned citizen of the miniature gym at the college sports complex, I believe there should be.
There’s not a lot of room for beginners in there. It’s not the people, if anything even the most advanced athletes in there realise the shortage of space and are willing to share. The problem is the gym equipment. Let me break down my woes for you:
– The smallest dumbbell available is a solid 25kg.
– The barbells all weigh about 15kg WITHOUT any weights on them.
– The weights are all 15kg and 20kg and only ONE 10kg exists.
Fortunately, there are about six 5kg weights lying around, and if I go in early I’m sure I can get them. Basically every time I enter the gym, right after I warm up, I have one simple job – hog ALL the 5kg weights. It’s either that or there’s literally nothing else I can lift in the gym.
KINDLY GO BIG OR GO HOME.
– That’s the perfect sign for the college gym. Polite, simple and to the point.
Like with anything new the gym just took some getting used to. I feel like I’ve finally broken that beginners plateau. The exercises are easier and more focused despite the heavy loads. In other words, I starting to know what I’m doing.
The gym is also starting to mean more to me than just a distraction or part of the strength and conditioning I need for recovery. It’s become a place of motivation.
You’d think that in that tiny shed college gym goers call home, it’s every man for himself in a workout. This is my bench till I’m done, don’t use the squat rack unless you can squat what I’m squatting, and all that testosterone bravado I hope to one day have. But it really isn’t. When someone asks what naïve movements I’m making with the weights, it’s from a place of concern, and they’re more than ready to give tips on how to improve. The biggest guys are willing to share the bench even if it means constantly changing the weight because they’re warming up with 40kg and your main set is a weak ass 20kg. It’s like an unspoken community. People don’t know each other’s names, but when someone walks into the gym they know whether he’s part of the community or not.
It’s nothing like the college basketball team where you’re either at the top, or you don’t really matter and your only consolation is to get to the top. But no one’s going to hold your hand through it, or help you up when you fall down trying. That kind of surrounding is what made waiting out my injury so unbearable. Thinking all I had was me and myself, and that I’ve got to get to the top now or never. There’s no help coming.
But the change of scene, the welcoming hands at the gym really made a difference. It helped me to be patient by just getting over myself, getting over my own personal goals. In the gym it doesn’t matter what level you’re at or what level you’re want to get to, everyone starts somewhere, and everyone is trying to get somewhere. Each person has their own load to carry, but they’re willing to help because they all know what it feels like trying to overcome that load, whether it’s 5kg, 20kg, 50kg or 100kg.
There’s a common struggle that everyone in the community is going through.
The big guys look intimidating. And they probably always will. But when they’re lifting their maximum, they too cringe their faces as they struggle with the load. When you see them struggle like any regular person, regardless of what they’re lifting, that too can motivate you.
Sometimes it’s just good to know you’re not the only one who makes an ugly face on the last rep.
It’s also a consolation to know you’re not the only one in pain the day after.
The journey continues… Want to keep updated? Hit the follow button on the menu.