I just walked 3.5 miles, which is by far the longest walk I've taken... not just since my stroke, but since god knows know how long before it. Last night I walked a tad over two miles, which was at the time also by far the furthest I'd walked since the stroke. After my post back in March about walking a mile, when the plantar fasciitis pain hit the next day after all, I got discouraged again about walking, and until last night hadn't walked further than that since, and rarely more than half a mile. Then about two weeks ago I walked a half mile in a hurry; I felt my heel twinge several times on that walk, and it was sore the next day. But only moderately sore, and within a few days, rest, stretching, and non-weight-bearing exercise had reduced it to its now normal state of a slight dull ache. I found myself wondering if the aerobic exercise plan I'd started in May had been unexpectedly beneficial to my ability to walk without reawakening that injury.
So I decided to make walking my entire workout last night. I finished the walk without any noticeable pain; I woke up to some, but was able to work it out with stretching exercises before getting out of bed, and it didn't bother me all day. Which left me wondering if maybe I've reached the point where I can just stop worrying about my damned heel. So I figured I'd try a slightly longer walk tonight, and see if I hurt myself in the process. (I took my cane with me, which I haven't used except in snow and ice for a year and a half, in case the foot did start hurting. I figured if it did start hurting, I wasn't going to be more than a couple hundred steps from somewhere I could get a cab.)
Tonight's walk turned out to be about a mile longer than I intended, because I'm an idiot: I had intended to walk to Alewife via the bike path (which I correctly figured is just over two miles), then take the T back to Davis, and walk another half-mile back home. But I haven't been on that part of the bike path in over ten years, and my memory (a quite firm memory --- I've argued with with someone about it on zephyr within the past year or so) was that the bike path runs to the south of Rindge on its way into Alewife. By the time the path hit Rindge, my head was somewhere else, and I didn't even look around: I took a left, and had walked down the sidewalk four or five blocks — passing the two mile mark and starting to feel more than ready to sit down — when I realized I was going the wrong way. I leaned against a lamp-post for a couple of minutes and decided it was probably closer to find my way back to the bike path than to turn around and head to Alewife, so that's what I did.
I did end up using the cane a little, but I think mostly because it was there, and once you've learned to walk with a cane, it seems a lot more natural than just carrying it. My heel was starting to twinge a little the last couple hundred yards (which are uphill). When I got home, I hit the rowing machine (which gives the plantar fascia a nice stretch) flat out for five minutes, mostly just to prove to myself that i could.
It's almost two hours later as I write this paragraph and I'm still buzzed.
Oh, hey. I just realized today (well, yesterday, technically) is two months exactly since I started doing aerobic workouts. Being a geek, I have of course been keeping a log. Being a geek with spare time who recently realized it had been over two years since I wrote any code other than shell scripts, I took this as an opportunity to improve my (meager by most of my friends' standards) programming skills. I've written a program to parse that log and generate a variety of graphs, of which this is probably the one that conveys the most information clearly:
(The extrapolation technique for determining the energy output of exercises other than the erg (which is of course instrumented) is pretty basic, and rests on the assumption that a heartbeat in my aerobic range represents roughly the same amount of work regardless of what exercise got my pulse into the range. The 'other' exercise category so far consists almost entirely of yard work, mostly mowing the lawn: I have a reel mower, which, in addition to making mowing the lawn a workout, is also pollution-free — and about the only comparably peaceful way of keeping the law mowed that I can think of involves buying a cow. The moving average is an n-day average (and not moving, I suppose) for the first two weeks.)
I've been trying to maintain a schedule of five days on followed by one or two days of rest. That's fallen apart over the last couple of weeks, but I expect to be back on it this week. It has its ups and downs, and sometimes gets incredibly boring, but overall I really can't tell you how pleased I am with my progress on this. The stroke was of course a real wake-up call about taking care of my body. But just about when I was recovered enough to start doing something about it, the debilitating pain in my foot started, and every time I thought that was done with, it seemed to come back even worse. When I finally started working out in May, I was very tentative, and very much afraid of doing something to bring back the pain — which by that point I had gotten downright paranoid about. Right now, I'm sitting here feeling the occasional minor twinge, but other than that, nothing out of the ordinary. I fully expect (touch wood!) that some morning stretching will let me be comfortable all day tomorrow.
Which, I just realized... Which, if true, means that two years on I can finally start to think of myself as in some sense done recovering from my stroke. Huh. That's an idea that will take some time sinking in....