The ComeBack Blog

As many of you who follow the Brawlic Blog have noticed it’s been 5 months since I’ve posted an article.  In June during a game vs Denver I ran down the field and performed a spin move, the only problem, everything except my left knee came with me.  Everyone has fears and my biggest fear since I was a very young athlete has always been of blowing my knee out.  In that split second I tore my ACL, my lateral meniscus, and cracked my articular cartilage.  In layman’s terms my knee just about exploded.

What rushes through our minds when our gravest fears suddenly and viciously become reality?  Well I suppose the simple answer to that is we cry.  I personally suffered a wave of new fears, Why?  When I’m playing so well?  What will my team do without me?  Is my career over?  How will I still train my clients who need me?  Is my family ok after seeing this?  How much further can my calves really shrink?

I haven’t written since then because it was important for me to take this all in, experience every second, survive the moments and remember them.  I wanted to truly understand what I have gone through because this summer for me is a metaphor for any person’s life before they realize it’s time for a radical change, an epiphany, a reformation………a ComeBack.


Just like any fundamental process in life a ComeBack is based on phases.  As humans (namely Americans) we love ComeBacks.

This guy knows what I'm talking about.

Now let’s be straight a ComeBack isn’t solely a star falling and then rising once again a la Michael Jordan or Mike Vick. A ComeBack is also an underdog reaching what he or she knew they were capable of all along.  And sometimes in very special and beautiful occasions it can be the case of a person stepping forward and achieving things greater than even THEY thought possible.  The latter is a personal favorite of mine because it’s what I try to achieve with my clients on a daily basis.

The questions is, when is it time for YOUR ComeBack?  Why not now?  Let’s take a look at the phases:

Realization of Reality

When it finally snapped in my brain that I had in fact blown my knee out, I was deeply saddened, angry, borderline hateful.  I needed time to myself to sort through all of my emotion.  I needed to pity myself, I needed (and thankfully received) the support of my friends, my family, my girlfriend.  I needed my time to cry and to yell and to focus strictly on reacting to what had happened to me.

It’s important to realize that there is an issue and go through the process of being angry about it.  This means you KNOW there is something that needs to be taken care of.  If you’re sitting around one day by yourself after 20 or 30 years and realize wow I’m out of shape, I don’t feel healthy, I don’t feel happy.  Go with that, let it get to you and let yourself be fired up about it.  It’s the first step to changing it.

Decision to Move forward

This may sound like a no-brainer but for many people this is the step that is skipped most often.  After realizing that a ComeBack needs to happen many people quickly look to an infomercial or join a gym hastily, buy protein powders, by gimmicky shoes.  Don’t go straight to poorly developed strategies until you’ve made the important and decisive decision that NO MATTER WHAT you’re going to stick with this.

For myself I had decided that after my surgery I would begin my process of getting better.  I was going to do the rehab by the book and listen to everything that I was told from my Doctors in order to get better and get back.  I only plan on doing something like this once so I wanted to do it right.

Game Plan

My biggest recommendation is to be honest with yourself.  Write out a daily schedule that you WILL follow and stick to for at least 4 weeks before you reassess.  If you have meetings every wednesday afternoon at work don’t schedule to go to the gym at 8pm.  It’s not going to happen and you’re already letting yourself down.  Make a schedule that is realistic and elemental to begin with.  A ComeBack should not be a vastly rushed process, take it slow at first.  Start with going to the gym twice or working out twice a week.  Decide to make slight changes in your diet don’t abruptly cut out all carbs and sugars cold turkey, you’ll set yourself up for failure.

I myself began by trying to lift my leg off the couch by an inch.  Doesn’t matter where you start as long as you DO.

Accept the Ebb and Flow

We’re human.  Humanity is a scary thing sometimes because unlike machines we have to deal with emotions.  Emotions can be powerfully positive as well as incredibly detrimental when it comes to the healing process.  The important thing is to let nature take it’s course.  Throughout my ComeBack I’ve had days where I feel great, I’m feeling stronger and ahead of schedule and there are other days where I’ve needed to sit by myself and cry.  It’s important to allow these feelings to take place and not fight them.  Just like when you should listen if your stomach is growling.  It growls because it’s telling you that your body needs food.  We should follow our emotions.  We’re reacting that way because we need to at the moment so let it happen.

Some days you’ll feel like you’re not making progress fast enough or maybe this is a waste of time.  It’s ok to feel that way but don’t stop, don’t stray from the course.  Keep pushing and keep moving.  Great things are the sum of small things.  So get a little better every day and it will eventually add up.

Don’t go to bed hungry but wake up starving!

Being the older brother of 2 other athletes I’ve always tried to simplify life for my younger brothers as best I can.  I’ve told both of them one thing on more than one occasion.

“In life all that really matters is when you look at yourself in the mirror before bed are you proud of what you see?”

This quote has nothing to do with looks since all 3 of us are ugly.  What it really means is can you sleep well knowing you tried as hard as you could in everything you attempted that day?  Did you train hard at the gym?  Did you finish your work or your paper or your errands with your best effort?  Did you settle whatever arguments or miscommunications you had with your girlfriend or spouse or friends?  Don’t go to bed hungry is a metaphor for don’t leave any unfinished business when you hit the pillow.

But when you wake up every day have your goals set aside and be prepared to attack them.  Know what you want to do when you get to work, know what you want for breakfast, know what your plan is for your workout that day.  Be starving to take on these challenges.

Live in the NOW

We hear this all the time but what does it mean?  When my P.T. was bending my knee back and painfully trying to force my knee to bend again I wasn’t focusing on sprinting and playing lacrosse.  I was focusing on getting my knee to bend (and punching him in the face for making me scream).  The biggest roadblock for someone making their ComeBack is their “futuristic” thoughts.  “I can’t wait to be 4% body fat”  “When will my arms be huge?” “how many lbs should I be to have a 6 pack?”  Zip it.  Get through TODAY.  An Oscar worthy film is not shot in one day while the director sits in a seat for 24 hours yelling, “Let’s skip to the big explosion at the end!”  It’s a sum of very meticulously thought out moments and months of hard work.  And as all of those moments are added up the film finally comes to fruition.  Attack your workout for the day, focus on your meals and be the absolute best you can be THAT DAY.  Pretty soon a good day turns into a good week, which becomes a great month, which becomes the BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE.

Now You’ve achieved the other phases, you’re on a roll and you know that you’re ComeBack is in motion.  What’s the final step?

Never Forget

Don’t forget why you went through this.  Don’t forget why you’re still working to achieve what you believe is greatness.  For me it’s about playing the game that I love again.  It’s about feeling 100% healthy and training and enjoying sports.  For you it might be finally fitting back into the jeans you used to love wearing in college.  It might be getting ready for next summer and looking your absolute best.  Or just like myself you could be coming back from injury.  Whatever it is remember ComeBacks are beautiful but once we’re back…..

Appreciate it.  And ENJOY it.  Here’s to OUR ComeBack.

You can't teach HEART

About Coach Greg

Greg Gurenlian USAW Club Level 1 Olympic Strength Coach NASE Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach B.S. Kinesiology Penn State University Owner of Brawlic Strength LLC Former Assistant Strength Coach of Penn State Basketball
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