After spending my entire 2020 summer pursuing completion of the Nolan’s 14 line and in the process logging the official slowest known time, and becoming the oldest to complete it, my summer this year was front-loaded with home projects. When would you think I’d be at greater risk for a knee injury, grinding over hundreds of miles and hundreds of thousands of feet of rugged off-trail ascents and descents in the highest mountains in the lower 48, or redoing a deck? If your contrarian instincts won out in your guess on this question, you’re correct. The Big Deck Rebuild Project of 2021 left me with a partially torn meniscus in my right knee. Go figure. Injuries can hit when we least expect.
It wasn’t terribly painful most of the time, but it swelled up whenever I pushed it, or just stood on it for too long. I was still able to get out for shorter runs and hikes and walk our puppy, but any aspirations for big mountain adventures were off the table for the time being. An MRI confirmed the meniscus tear in late July and for three months I contemplated what to do. I’ve been incredibly fortunate never to have had an injury that required surgical repair, so I was hoping this would resolve itself as my other nicks and dings have over the years. But it didn’t.
Even taking Gnarly Collagen Pro can’t repair a cartilage tear. It was, however, a key ingredient - along with a healthy diet heavy in dark, leafy greens, Gnarly Performance Greens, other colorful fruits and vegetables, high quality protein and legumes - in preparing myself for and recovering from surgery. I also made sure to keep my fitness as dialed-in as possible, so I would be able to get back to all activities as soon as my post-surgery knee allowed. I scheduled the surgery in early November, so I wouldn’t miss out on the warm-weather mountain activities that inspire me. I’d been mostly taking it very easy on the knee, by not running on it for the first month and a half, hoping it would heal. Once I had the MRI that confirmed the tear, and getting advice from my doctor that it was unlikely I’d do further lasting damage to the joint, I decided to just run on it up until my surgery date.
The inspiration I get every day living in the High Rockies of Colorado is a double-edged sword when dealing with an injury. When I’m injury-limited, I’m still surrounded by the energy the mountains radiate and my mind wanders to the next big endurance challenge that will test me, get me deep into the backcountry and get me closer to my purest true self. My work got really busy and I spent more time focused on that, but I was frustrated not to take on any really big endurance challenges in the all-too-short mountain summer. On the other hand, inspiration from the mountains and my mountain friends is what pushed me to prepare and recover from the injury quickly.
In the end, the arthroscopic surgery went smoothly and my inflammation subsided so quickly that I was taking the first few short trots on the trail one week post-surgery. When I had my follow-up with my surgeon after two and a half weeks, he was amazed at what I was doing physically and that there was almost no swelling. I attribute the good result to my aforementioned diet and fitness, along with seeing trusted acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy healthcare providers. My surgeon did a great job and he was so impressed with the outcome, he called me a week after my post-surgery follow-up to ask if I’d be OK being interviewed by their marketing team to share my story.
My advice: Make nutrition a priority in your life, eat a diet abundant in colorful vegetables, keep moving, stay curious and seek inspiration from all sources in your personal universe.