Votto, who needed a second arthroscopic surgical procedure on his left knee on Friday, has been limited to therapy in the pool since.
"I felt like I was close. I was probably pushing it trying to get out there," Votto said on Tuesday. "I was probably being a little overzealous.
"I hurt it sliding. It wasn't a byproduct of any of the strength training stuff or any of the medical stuff or any of the things that I ran myself through -- baseball or physical therapy. I've slid a thousand times. Before I played, I was hoping to get a round of that stuff in. I happened to re-injure it doing that."
There was no regret on Votto's part for trying to hustle back from the disabled list.
"No. I am where I am in my career because of my attitude in general," he said. "I don't think I would be the player I am if I didn't ask more of myself. Stuff like this happens."
Votto, 28, felt like his knee has made progress since the second surgery.
"It's completely different," Votto said. "The first time, it probably took me a week and a half to get to where I am now. It was a very minor procedure. I feel OK. I'm just frustrated, wishing I was playing and stuff. That's been the hardest part of this whole thing."
While the Reds would, without a doubt, love to have Votto -- the 2010 National League MVP and a 2011 NL Gold Glove winner -- back in his customary third spot in the lineup, the team has thrived in his absence.
First-place Cincinnati entered Tuesday 19-8 since Votto went down on July 16, and it had built a five-game lead over the second-place Pirates.
"We're just fortunate to have done this well without Joey," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
The success of the team can enable both the Reds and Votto to not cut corners in his rehab. For example, Votto would not try to avoid sliding or doing other moves that could be risky for his knee just so he can return quicker.
"I'm not going to come back until I can do everything that I have to do as a ballplayer," Votto said. "I'm not comfortable coming back not being able to play defense or be able to break up a double play or be able go from first to third. I'm responsible for myself once I step on the field. If I can't take a guy out and it costs us a run or something like that, that's something I'd have a hard time looking my teammates in the eyes and be able to explain myself.
"The next time I come back, I will be 100 percent ready to play and do everything before I was hurt. That's what makes me the player I am."