Bouncing back from an Injury.

Tough Girl Melissa Marts

Melissa Marts, Tough Girl Cycling

It will happen to all athletes sometime in their life. You are feeling great, racing well, and then BAM, you are suddenly out with an injury. Making the transition back from being injured can be a long, slow, frustrating journey, but here are some tips for making it easier for you and those around you.

Coming back from an injury is mentally a tough thing to do.  The first thing to work on is not beating yourself up for being injured. If you can learn something on how to prevent this injury in the future, then note it and move on. It doesn’t do any good to dwell on what would have happened if you had taken the other line, or maybe braked just a little before the razorback sandstone while racing at night (uh hem). It happened and the best thing to do now is to look foreword.

Once you have come to peace with your injury, work on the steps to get yourself healthy. See a physical therapist as soon as you sense something is wrong. In some cases this may be quite obvious, but chronic low-grade pain can often develop into something more serious without the proper care.

Often the hardest thing for most athletes to do is to take time off of training. Don’t feel guilty about not riding my bike every day. When you are healthy this is a productive feeling, it keeps you motivated and helps you reach your potential. While injured, however, the guilty feelings we often have about training can be destructive. Instead of feeling guilty about not training, concentrate on performing the correct PT for your injury. Consistency (and often icing) is the key to a quick recovery.

Don’t come back too fast! I learned this the hard way. I had come out of Collegiate Nationals in great shape one October but had to finish my master’s thesis, so I was out of shape over the winter. To remedy this, I thought is would be a fantastic idea to go to cycling camp in Tucson over New Years. I road 80 miles a day, five days in a row, after a couple months of labwork being my only exercise. I ended up coming away with Achilles tendonitis that plagued me through the spring.

Once you are cleared to begin riding again, make it FUN. Remember why you liked riding in the first place! I tried to come back from my Achilles tendonitis by racing myself into shape. Needless to say those were the most miserable cross-country races I have ever “competed” in. After almost forgetting why I liked bikes in the first place, I just rode for fun with friends and didn’t worry about pace.

Finally, set achievable goals to help motivate you to get back into shape. I broke my elbow on the above mentioned razorback sandstone in October, signed up for the 18 Hours of Fruita as a 4-person team in January, started riding again in February, and the race is in May! This may be boarderline with the “don’t come back too fast” rule, but it has motivated me to get out on the bike more than if I was not accountable. Guess I have a couple more weeks to find out…

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