When did you start to get some strength back?
A couple of weeks after the casts were off, I started to walk in the braces with my legs straight. There were days when I was depressed because I was stuck in my apartment. I would make myself walk around the apartment, because I was determined to get stronger and get out of there. I stopped eating crappy foods. I started eating clean, but I reduced the amount I would normally eat. I wasn’t very active, so I didn’t need that much food. And then every day I had a routine where I would get up and do calisthenic exercises and stretch. I just kept doing that for six weeks, but I was so sick of being home in my flat. Thank God for having bloody technology like the Internet and TV and DVDs. It certainly made me appreciate the little things in life. Even just walking normally can be a blessing when you realize how many people can’t.
What was it like when the braces came off?
It was the weirdest feeling. It felt as though if I bent my legs a little bit I’d fall on the floor, even with the crutches. And I’d lost so much mobility and muscle strength. I was like, “Oh, my god, look at the state of my legs!” But I told myself there are two ways I can go. I can go back to the dark and dig myself in so deep I can’t get out, or I can take every day as it comes and build up a routine and slowly but surely bring myself back. Some days were really depressing. I’d stay in bed for 12 hours. I was just overwhelmed when I’d think that everything I aimed for was gone. So it was like I was fighting with I’d do high-rep sets of leg extensions with no weight at home. I’d do 5 sets of 50 in the morning and 5 sets of 50 in the evening. And then when I built up the strength that way, I was back in the gym and doing very light leg extensions.
Did you follow what was being said about you online?
Sometimes I’d look at a website and they’d say, “Zack Khan’s finished.” People can be really cruel behind the computer. It did sometimes get to me. But I just thought they don’t know how determined and focused I am. I knew then, I’d do everything I could to prove them wrong.
You had a huge setback in December 2010. Tell us about that.
I started making decent progress, and then in December I got an infection in my left knee, and they had to operate again. So that really set me back. They had to cut the tendon totally off again and reattach it again. I was right back where I was before with a cast on for six weeks and then a brace after that. Mentally and physically, that was really devastating.
So you had to go through the whole process of just regaining the strength and mobility to walk again. When did you start training legs again?
Not until June , and I had to start all over again with no weights and then really light weights. It’s really hard coming back from injuries like this. It’s like every day was a battle with myself.
I saw a video of you bench-squatting last December, and you maxed out with 135. As of January 2012, what were you squatting?
I was squatting 10 reps with 225. That’s using a bench. It was 185 for 10 without a bench.