So what can we learn from superheros? What qualities do they share?
Commitment. OK, so I'm not really a superhero. But I have never been so focused on my goals before. I have goals to get back to my pre-injury strength numbers. And I haven't missed a day in the gym ever since my injury. I'm committed to the task, focused, and determined. Do I want to quit sometimes? Yes. But I haven't yet. And I'm so close to my goal now that I can taste it. Last week, I came within 3 pounds of setting a lifetime PR on my deadlift. I also ran a mile on a track (2 mile run/walk as prescribed by my physical therapist). My progress may be slow as hell, but its there. And I often have to remind myself of that. Luckily, I have a good friend that often reminds me.
Struggle. No superhero ever has it easy. There's always a moment when you think success is impossible. The evil villain has the upper hand. I've had a LOT of those days. But for the past few months, I've been doing barbell club (Olympic lifting, squats, deadlifts, etc.), and have been seeing strength improvements. Or technique improvements. Or both. It has come with new pain, stiffness, and setbacks. But there's improvement. And it's great to have a knowledgeable coach keeping an eye on me and encouraging me to push when I would normally be scared to. He reminds me that my knee is structurally fine, and that I just need to learn to trust it again.
Help. No superhero goes it alone. Batman has Robin. Superman has Lois Lane. Katniss has Peeta and Gale. I have positive motivating coaches again. They tell me to push when I would normally be scared to, and they remind me that my knee is structurally fine, and that I just need to learn to trust it again. I have friends and family who support me, listen to me whine, and share in my daily minor victories. You need a support team. And if they aren't supportive, find a new team.
Perseverance. I still work on knee extension and mobility every day (almost 2 years later). And I have more painful days than pain free. But I can't seem to give up on wanting to get back to who I was before the injury. I don't want to give my injury too much power, so it certainly doesn't prevent me from living life. I've started biking, which has been an awesome new pain free hobby. I have new pains occasionally--IT Band troubles, patella tendon problems, etc. But I now accept it and work through it.
Injury recovery is a mental process just as it is a physical one. It's a journey that many people don't understand. You are your own best chance of success. Take things one day at a time and consider yourself your own superhero.