Out of the water

Surfing Rockaway Beach

The last time that I surfed was about a year ago. It was my last surf session of the season out at Rockaway. It was a beautiful fall day and a perfect surf session with good people.

After that day, I had no idea that I would be out of the water for so long. Even after the reality of having to have knee surgery earlier this year sunk in, I still expected to be back in the water during our summer vacation in Montauk or at least by the end of the season. But now, the season has come and gone and Rockaway Beach has been forever changed by Hurricane Sandy.

While I felt energized and rejuvenated in my return to running (seriously, that was a huge step for me), there’s a big part of me that’s scared to return to surfing. Like, really scared. There’s a jumble of emotions in the pit of my stomach – a combination of anxiety, doubt, excitement and plain old fear.

There’s a lot about surfing that absolutely scares me like the open water and oh, I don’t know, other things like drowning. Generally, the thrill and bliss of actually catching and riding a wave overrides all of that in an instant. However, now that I’ve had over a year to step back from it all, I’m anxious about returning to surfing. Will I be able to do it? After all, I only started surfing last year and have so much more to learn. Will my knee hold up in the strong ocean currents? Am I being stupid even thinking about surfing again? Will I be re-injured?

I know that it’s good to have healthy fears and expectations but I don’t want them to get in the way and paralyze me, which is what I feel like they are doing to me now. I don’t want my fear of re-injury to affect my recovery and what I believe that I’m capable of. Yet, it almost feels “safer” to just throw in the towel and say goodbye to surfing than work through these fears.

Then again, maybe I’m just over-thinking things and getting into my head too much.

Do you ever feel anxious about returning to a sport or activity after a long lay-off or injury? Do you fear being re-injured? 


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  1. says

    Yes!!! This is exactly what I was dealing with in my ‘to marathon or not’ post, although you wrote it so much more eloquently. :)
    I feel the same way… healthy fears are good, as long as they don’t paralyze us from stepping out and moving forward. I don’t think you’re over-thinking it, you just want to be smart. Can you start small? Obviously I know nothing about surfing, but are there places you can go where there isn’t such a big current? Or less danger?
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..22 Healthy Thanksgiving RecipesMy Profile

    • admin says

      I can definitely start “small” and work my way back up. I think that I would have to do that anyway just to build up my confidence. It is a fine line between having a healthy fear and respect for limits and not being confined by those limits or using them as an excuse. I’m not sure where I fall right now. In either case, I know that one day, I’ll be back surfing and you will run the marathon.

  2. says

    You have good reason to be nervous about surfing, it’s not an easy sport, so much more to it than just moving your feet. With that said, you love it so much, it’s your passion and that nervousness is like seeing an old lover again after a long break.. daunting at first but you will settle in and feel comfortable after you catch those first few waves. Heeellllooo Lover CY is back
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Malibu Marathon Race Recap- November 2012My Profile

  3. says

    I know exactly how you feel. I got injured running not to long ago, and I got really scared to start again for fear that I would hurt myself and be stuck not being able to workout hard for 6-8 more weeks. I think the best thing you can do is take it slow. If you gradually ease into it, and you give your self the right amount of time, you’ll get back to your old self in no time! You can totally be fearless :).
    Mila @Tales From The Kitch recently posted..Tech difficulties, pizza minis, and a little Farro salad.My Profile

  4. says

    Oh my goodness, yes! I was so scared to get back into running after I sprained my ankle last July. I was scared for so many reasons, and all I had to do was put my feet to the pavement. Surfing has quite a bit more to it, no? Like you said, the drowning fear. (I’m fearful of the open water as well. Strange, because I grew up on the beach, but true.)

    You have every reason to fear re-injury, Christine, but you also have to remember that you’ve done this before. You’re not unfamiliar with it. It may take a couple of tries, but you’ll feel it all come back to you. Especially since you love it so much. Your passion for it won’t let fear get in the way.
    Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run recently posted..Recipe: Chicken & Chorizo “White” ChiliMy Profile

    • admin says

      Surfing is a bit more and I guess I’m just scared of putting myself in the position of getting hurt while out in the water, you know? Then that whole drowning thing comes into play :-)

      I know that I just have to take it slow and feel it out and be OK with that.

  5. Bron says

    I think when you paddle out it will come back and you will remember why you love it so much. Sometimes when I get out the back and I am not feeling “in the comfort zone”, I sit on the board, look at the waves, paddle over them and then after a while, start to get the feel of being out there. Then I pick off a suitable wave and start paddling. Spend some time paddling, looking, going over the incoming waves and watching the others. Then after a while when it feels right, go for it! Good luck, you will be fab, Bron :)

    • admin says

      Thank you Bron. You’re right – I think that just getting out there and paddling around or even just playing around in the whitewater will go a long way to helping me to feel comfortable in the water again. And even just watching the waves and getting back into that zone.

  6. says

    I’ve been there for sure! You know you are feeling good but not sure about the unexpected. That lingering “what if” is sitting in your brain. Don’t give up! Take it slow. I know nothing about surfing so maybe find some surfers who’ve had knee injuries about their comeback? I like Bron’s advice above. I think you love surfing too much to never do it again. Or at least try.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..It’s All GoodMy Profile

    • admin says

      I hadn’t thought about that. A friend of mine had knee surgery about a year or so before I did and has returned to surfing. I will have to hit her up with all my questions!! haha.

  7. says

    Luckily I haven’t had to deal with an injury yet… knock on wood… but I think I would feel just like you. It’s so scary to ease back into something when you know what happened the last time! Surfing sounds AMAZING and I really want to try it someday. But I think I will be terrified! I bet you will get right back into the swing of things soon- maybe take baby steps? Hope to hear more about this :-)

    • admin says

      Thanks Andrea. Surfing is so much fun and really indescribable – part of the reason that I really want to get back to it. Luckily, I have a few months before I will likely get in the water (way too cold on the East Coast in the winter and many of the local surf spots in NY have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy) but definitely am thinking baby steps. I’ll definitely be sharing it on the blog!

  8. says

    When I was a teenager I had two knee surgeries in two years…totally feared getting hurt again (especially after I DID get hurt again!).

    Sometimes, I still fear re-injuring my knee, but try to push those thoughts away and just enjoy whatever activity I’m doing, Sometimes it’s harder than others to let go of the fear.
    AmyC recently posted..Review: Sprigs EarbagsMy Profile

  9. says

    You will be totally fine! I can totally see it, start slow in some small surf and a board you feel comfortable on. You’ll get that first wave and all your fears will be out of the window. Anticipation can be much worse then reality. That rush you get on the wave will hit you and the magic will come back.
    Jess recently posted..Vegan Sources of Complete ProteinMy Profile

    • admin says

      Thanks Jess. I think you are absolutely right – it’s the anticipation that’s killing me, of not knowing what to expect or how it will go or even when I will get back out in the water.

  10. says

    Absolutely! After my running injury last year, I feared that running again would bring back the pain…or that I wouldn’t be able to run again. I had to give it another shot and let’s just say….I’m happy I did. I took things slow and I made sure to listen to my body. I didn’t push it :)
    Kierston recently posted..Body Maintenance!My Profile

  11. says

    YES! I can so relate! The times you challenge your healed/healing injury can be scary. But DOING IT then becomes an even greater thrill.

    Do what you can on land to insure that your leg muscles are strong and stable. Then embrace the activity whole heartedly looking at it as a celebration of your recovery.

    Eager to hear how this goes… but now will it be next spring before that happens?
    Deb Roby recently posted..Exercise Progressions, Part Two: UnstableMy Profile

    • admin says

      Yes, it probably won’t be until the spring until I get back in the water unless I book a trip to someplace warm!! THAT would be nice :-) But in a way, it’s good that it won’t be until the spring at the earliest because that means that I have a few months to really focus on strengthening my legs and core and to get stronger overall. I love the idea of embracing the activity as a celebration of recovery. Thank you Deb!

  12. says

    I have fears like this of returning to volleyball or softball. After not having played either of them in a while, the idea of playing again is scary. For whatever reason, I’m able to see the risk associated with them a lot easier now (softball more so). I won’t be playing for a while now but I really want to at some point and will have to make a decision similar to you.

    In the end, I’m pretty sure, my desire to play will override the fear and I’ll play. I think the same thing will happen with you. No regrets…just live! :)
    Katie @momslrb recently posted..Lite As A Feather..My Profile

    • admin says

      I’m convinced that I’m now so much more aware of the risks of sports because I’m a mother and that mothering instinct has kicked in full force.

  13. says

    Having a fear of not being able to do something, shows you the value that you place in that activity. It is a part of you and something you WANT to do. As a runner, I am always anxious about re-injuring my IT and I can say, it never really does go away. But you build confidence and learn to stick with training smart and making sure you take the important cautionary steps to stay healthy.

    It’s a good thing. Just make sure you come back 100%
    Pavement Runner recently posted..Running Up and Down CaliforniaMy Profile

  14. says

    Ha ha, well you know I’m afraid! I know you get a bit scared in the ocean, but I would think surfing is pretty safe for your injury, no? If you’re not ready to go big yet, get out there on some small waves on a long board, and see how you feel. I bet you’ll feel pretty good! :)
    Becky @ RunFunDone recently posted..Scaredy BeckMy Profile

    • admin says

      I chuckled to myself when I read your post last night because I had this one cued up and ready to go. Guess we’re on the same wavelength!!

  15. says

    I read this yesterday at work (don’t tell anyone!) on my phone and wanted to comment right away – but now I see what you wrote above in response to Martha and I am so with you on the “anticipation” thing. It WILL com back to you – just like running will come back to me one day when my arch is stronger, You are one of the most adventurous people I know. You will move past the anticipation quickly. I can’t wait to hear about your first wave!
    ilene recently posted..Please People! Leave Your Negligees at Home!My Profile

  16. says

    YES!! This was me a few months ago when I returned to running. I was terrified. More so b/c I didn’t want to get my hopes up that I would be up and running again only to find that I was still in pain.
    Don’t push yourself. I think when you are ready, you will know. And all your fears will be erased.
    Plus you need to teach me how to surf (which is obviously the most important reason you should surf again!) HAHA =)
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..Remembering How to Run UncomfortablyMy Profile

  17. says

    I can’t even imagine being out of the water for one year. Even if I don’t surf for 3 weeks I feel like a part of me is off – I feel antsy and not as at peace with everything. Love the content that surfing brings. If you ever come out to CA let’s paddle out together!
    Lindsay Tredent recently posted..12 Days of Fitness: Day OneMy Profile

    • admin says

      So true – surfing does bring a sense of contentment that I don’t experience doing anything else. Yes! Would love to paddle out with you sometime!


  1. […] 2012, I decided to set four surf-related goals. Seemed simple enough but who knew that I would be out of the water for over a year (and counting), that I would rediscover my love for running, and that yoga would be what I need […]

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