Summer’s finally here, you’re getting into a good groove on the bike, and then BAM: the inevitable but unfortunate reality of bike riding and racing happens, and you find yourself sprawled out on the ground. Sometimes we get lucky, dust ourselves off, and hop right back on the bike. Other times we’re not so lucky, and we end up with an injury, facing some time off the bike and away from training and racing.
While we all do our best to avoid crashing, it’s important for athletes to have a gameplan of how to deal with the aftermath of a crash. Head Coach Steve outlines some points to consider in the event that you find yourself recovering from an injury mid-season (or anytime, really).
- Remember that your body’s first priority after an injury is healing and recovering from that trauma, whether it be minor or something bigger. You may find yourself more tired, more sore, and with less energy than usual: that’s your body redirecting resources to help heal itself, and its attempt to keep you from pushing too far physically. It’s essential that you LISTEN TO YOUR BODY as you go through the recovery process.
- Embrace the aspects of your recovery that you CAN control, and let go of those which you CANNOT control. You can make sure that you’re eating healthily, getting ample sleep, and doing any recommend physical therapy / wound care regularly. You can’t control how fast your body heals, the timing of your crash / injury, or the rate at which you’ll be able to return to full training capacity.
- Loss of fitness after an unexpected injury is a big concern for both athletes and coaches. You work hard to organize your life around training well, to recovering efficiently, and enjoy reaping the benefits of that process. No matter if you’re dealing with road rash, broken bones, head trauma, or anxiety about returning to racing, the most important goal for any athlete is getting back to a whole and healthy state on the schedule that your body, brain, and emotions dictate.
- Make plans to fill your time with people and activities that you may not be able to during your normally busy training weeks and race weekends. Go to the movies, grab coffee with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Depending on the specific injury, seek out other forms of exercise to stay active: hiking, swimming / aqua jogging, or riding a stationary recumbent bike are all good options. If you’re not able to be active and move around, find something else to keep your brain occupied, like catching up on reading, trying out cross-stitch, puzzles, or card games with friends.
- Ask for help, and plan ahead! Your friends and family are more than likely willing to help you out, especially in the initial stages of your recovery. Things like meal preparation, rides to medical appointments, pet care, and household chores are all important to consider.
- Even minor injuries can be tough to digest mentally and emotionally. Afterall, you focus your whole year on gaining fitness and being able to enjoy the benefits of that hard work. If you find yourself feeling discouraged, frustrated, and in a downward spiral of thoughts and emotions, a qualified therapist can help you work through this rocky time. Psychology Today has a great tool for finding a therapist local to you, if you don’t already have someone with whom you work.
Nobody wants to think about crashing or dealing with an overuse injury, slogging through the recovery process and watching one’s hard-earned fitness slip away. But, it’s part of our sport and lifestyle, and it’s important to be deliberate in the way we approach healing and returning to training. Your coach can help you make sure you’ve got the support and goals in place post-injury, and can help put the recovery process in perspective, while working with you to outline goals later in the season. When the inevitable does happen, hopefully these tips will help make healing your body and mind a bit easier!