Usually, when someone tells you they don’t want to see you anymore, it’s a bad sign. But from your orthopedic, it’s a promise of freedom and return to the activities that you love (and that got you into the predicament in the first place, but that’s beside the point).

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Yes, a week and a half ago, my doctor cut me loose. “Return to unrestricted activities” is the way he put it. I celebrated by joining my wife and many friends for a Spring Break ruckus in the Moab area, where – you guessed it – we went rock climbing. I’d fantasized about what route I wanted to climb first, what blissful Indian Creek fissure (Incredible Handcrack) or classic tower (Ancient Art) that would mark my return to climbing. In the end, however, it wasn’t either of these or even one of comparable notoriety. Heck, I don’t even remember the name of the route. It was just another 5.10 hand crack on the Cat Wall, fun but nothing remarkable. Really, this was all for the better because, unlike the joyous horse-out-of-the-gate charge up the wall I dreamed of, climbing with my right arm was kind of like trying to do math while drunk: inelegant, inefficient, and mostly underscoring ineptitude.

Thus, I spent my first day lamely top-roping everything, often with hangs and sometimes with a power belay for harder sections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying top-roping is lame. I mean it literally: I was like a lame horse, limping awkwardly up moderate hand cracks. So, being the lame horse that I was, I did what any self-respecting climber would do: I compensated, mainly through banter and alcohol. I also distracted myself with taking photos, climbing obscure (albeit easy) towers, running, and other absurdities.

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Psyched after a siege of Ansaid Tower, a 5.7 in Donnelly Canyon. We are actually on the summit, despite the wall behind us. Rad.

Ultimately, I didn’t give a shit that I sucked at rock climbing. Good food and cheap beer were abundant. Someone said, “It’s getting so warm I might have to take off my underpants.” Spring Break!

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Alas, Spring Break is as ephemeral as it is rambunctious, and Becca and I drove home two days ago to lick our wounds and return to the world of schedules, assignments, to-do lists, and deadlines. For my recovery from surgery, the freedom of Spring Break evolves into the discipline of Spring Training, which brings with it different but equal excitement. My recovery now is quite similar to a basic training plan for climbing. I have my goal (in this case, a progression back to similar levels of climbing pre-injury), and I work through a grade-pyramid to get there. I start with high volume climbing at a fairly low difficulty and gradually increase the difficulty and decrease volume over the next 6-8 weeks. I’ve started focusing on building stability and functional movement, mainly in my core and my shoulders. I also continue to strengthen my biceps, since he’s still just a little guy.

Recent Addition: Here’s the plan I made, once I was cleared for full activity, to return to my previous level of climbing.

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