One Pedal Stroke at a Time…
Before diving head first into the more philosophical and thoughtful sides of this blog, I thought I’d fill you in on the past couple of months. I’ve been fairly radio silent during my recovery (sorry about that!) and so keep getting asked the same questions and being looked at as if I’ve risen from the dead.
I did promise myself I would be an exception to the rule. Someone who kept a running commentary on my progress. But instead I’ve been busy trying to rebuild myself mentally and physically. Everyone else has carried on living and moving forward, whilst I went back to square one and played catch up. Turns out it’s much harder the second time round.
A lot has happened between my previous blog and now. When I wrote that I was in the early stages of recovery; still in a back brace, walking around half broken and unable to ride my bike. Now I’m back in the saddle and back in the peloton. It’s been a long hard road, although at the same time a fairly time-crunched one, and it’s not over yet.
First off, I’m now officially in one piece! No more broken bones. Living up to my newly acquired nickname of ‘Lucky’, I managed to break 12 bones and not require surgery. I also managed to break my chest and back simultaneously and not die or be paralysed. Might sound weird to boast about such things, but a win’s a win! And this is a victory I would take above all others this year considering the circumstances. I will officially make a complete recovery with no lasting damage or lingering injuries. Now just the “simple” task of making up for lost time.
It was a slow and steady transition back into riding. Back brace off. Day one was a 20min ride. My hardest training day of the year. The next was a 45min ride. The second hardest training day of the year. You get the idea. Each day pushing myself to make a step forward.
However, since the last blog this also feels like a distant memory. Now back to a full training load and able to get back into the peloton and pin a number on. I’m by no means back to where I was pre-crash, having only had around a month of hard training, but I’m getting there. Each day closer to the rider I was, and motivated to keep working hard and get back there by the end of the season.
I think it’s a good sign when you get to the point where you’re disappointed with results after races, and frustrated with yourself when you don’t hit the numbers in training. I’ve moved on from celebrating each little step as the victory it was for me, and back to being my harshest critic. I’ll leave you to decide which one’s better.
Now we’re all up to date on the recovery, let’s delve into the lessons I’ve learnt along the way. I won’t go as far as to say it’s been a good thing this happened to me, in fact far from it, but I’m all about making the best of a bad situation. And as the motivational quote goes ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. For my sake I’m very much hoping this is true!
One of the most difficult things to beat since my first pedal stroke back on the open road has been time. Whether self-imposed, or forced upon you, the clock is ticking.
It’s a fine line we’re walking as athletes. Often somewhere on the edge of ideal. Under-trained, over-trained, skirting illness or injury; no matter what it is the scales are always tipping. You strive for that perfect balance, and do all you can to make that a reality, but I’ve learnt the hard way that nothing in life is guaranteed.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve gone through this for the second time this season. Through winter you train as hard as you can, whilst carefully managing that build up to your peak for precisely the right time. Months of work and planning. It’s not as simple as just stepping on your bike and riding. This has been even more true since the accident.
I’ve worked as hard as my body would let me since day one. This time combining training with physio, rebuilding a now non-existent core and upper body, and managing extensive injuries. Training as hard as you can, whilst not rushing and setting yourself back, is all a part of this balance. One day at a time. One pedal stroke at a time. Progress.
For me it’s like time repeating itself whilst those around me continue to move forward. That’s a hard mental battle to win. But along with not constantly dwelling on how things could have been if this hadn’t happened, I’ve also learnt to focus on what I’m doing and not compare myself to anyone else. If we’d all simultaneously been hit by that car and suffered identical injuries then maybe this would be a fair fight, but luckily that didn’t happen. And either way we’re all unique. Probably best not to focus too hard on what anyone else is doing and lose sight of yourself. It’s true what they say ‘comparison is the thief of joy’.
I won’t lie and pretend I haven’t had doubts in recent months; and when things have been at their most painful or I’ve struggled to do even the simplest of things I’ve asked why I’m putting myself through this. But there are always two choices, two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy. I know that when I look back on this time in the future, I’ll be glad I pushed through the hard times. Glad I worked hard now and laid the foundations.
Follow along with Molly’s Journey: @mollyweaver94