After I broke my leg in January 2015 and struggled through the attendant surgery, I decided that rehabilitation would require some goals. My goals after surgery were:
I have now achieved the first three goals I set myself in February 2015. The fourth goal still eludes me as I can’t ski aggressively on steep slopes without significant pain. Maybe that goal will be a bridge too far. The Palm Beach to Manly swim has caused me to reconsider goalsetting as part of rehabilitation. In fact, it’s caused me to reconsider goalsetting in the broader context of what we hope to achieve in life. In particular, what is an appropriate goal? We all have goals. They can be physical, such as the various challenges that Barry and I have taken on; They can be emotional, to be an exemplary father, husband, friend or all of the above or financial and career goals, which preoccupy most men, myself included, from a very young age. Men are very goal driven and I’m no exception. The easiest goal men slide into is the one described by the sentiment “we are what we do.”
After completing the Palm Beach to Manly swim I make the following points about goalsetting during rehabilitation:
The mistake I made was the setting of goals that were possibly fanciful or inappropriate. For someone my age to try and swim from Palm Beach to Manly, even as part of a duo relay team, is a big ask. I was fortunate that I had a swim partner who is very resolute and reliable in the water and expert help in the shape of Alex our kayak paddler and Denise Elder on the boat, who is herself, a very experienced long-distance swimmer. Ultimately, we were aided also by a perfect day with a gentle nor-nor easterly swell and a following wind. However, this goal would have been a challenge to me even if I had been uninjured and whether or not I was goalsetting as part of rehabilitation.
Goals 1,2 and 4 above are practical and reasonable, although hoping to do a long bushwalk in the Northern Territory carrying a pack only about four months after surgery was probably neither practical nor reasonable. That is a goal probably for the second year of a rehab program.
In relation to the swim that Barry and I completed, one of the great challenges was to set a training program that was appropriate for men over the age of 60 and that gave them sufficient stamina and endurance without injury. As it transpired, the training was more problematic than the swim. We were extremely lucky to decide on one hour legs rather than our traditional half hour and 20 minute legs. This gave us plenty of time to recover. It was only after discussing the swim with my physiotherapist that she said the one hour break is appropriate for people our age because our recovery time is much slower and the one-hour legs discourage sprinting and aggressive lactic acid buildup in the muscles. There is much to be written about athletic goalsetting and training for people of mine and Barry’s vintage. It can be done, it’s just how it’s done in a safe and enjoyable manner. That is the predicament.
The burden of rehabilitation, particularly surgical rehabilitation, just makes the proposition that much more complicated.
Still, I’m glad that’s one I can tick off the list. Only one to go. I wish Barry could ski.