Just over two months and a half ago I broke my arm or more specifically fractured my humerus while running the epic 100K Race To The Stones. To someone who would think nothing of waking up at 6am, throwing on my rucksack and running 10 miles before work, this was a huge blow. Suddenly I went from being super-able and super-fit to not being able to dress myself. And as for running, cycling or anything that would remotely increase my heart-rate, well that was a definite no-no.
Fast-forward to now and I’m beginning to run and cycle again. In fact, my past week of exercise consisted of two Pilates classes at bePilates, one ballet class at Xtend Barre, a HIIT class at Ten Health & Fitness, a Bootcamp class at Great Portland Street, six runs varying from six to eight miles and cycling almost every other day.
It may look a lot on paper but it’s this kind of routine that I thrive on. I’m feeling stronger, healthier, fundamentally happier and ready to start booking my racing calendar. But there’s still a little niggling hesitation in my back of my mind which is the result of being injured and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it certainly knocks your confidence, especially when planning your comeback.
From recognising my own fragility to taking it slow, here are 3 things I’ve learned on my road to recovery.
- Don’t rush it
I’d like to think that I’m patient – I mean I waited eight years to get a ring on my finger – but when it something that means so much to the very essence of who I am such as exercise and being free in the great outdoors, I’d cut corners if possible. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts when you’ve broken a limb. You may think of an ingenious way to try to run to work with one arm (pulling a kiddie carrier with your good arm, Uber-ing your commuter bag to the office or even having your partner-in-crime cycling alongside you) but if the doctor says no, he means no.
The fastest way to fix me was to avoid knocks and keep my arm still for a few weeks. And that means my form of transport came down to bus or tube. Tube was out of the question as they are so packed first thing in the morning, which left the bus. Yes, I had to endure hour-long bus rides, work on my negotiating a seat skills by shouting “my arm is broken, can I please sit down?” and wait in the rain for a packed bus to drive right by. It did have some positives – walking to the bus with the boyfriend, strolling past Hampstead Heath extension first thing in the morning when there was a real boon of blackberries and appreciating the area where I live – but I’m glad to be back to normal now. After all, to quote some famous Irish Ale, good things come to those who wait.
- All is not lost fitness-wise
The worst thing about being injured is that you honestly believe you’ll have to start all over when you can exercise again. Back in January, I was running 48 miles on the Saturday and waking up on the Monday to head out for a half marathon run before work. My body felt strong. After four weeks of not being able to exercise, I felt like a depressed lumpy hippo. Of course, it was all in my head. I’d like to think I’m only lumpy in the right places but it still doesn’t help.And when finally I was given the all clear to run again, it was like “er, okay”. How would my body react? Would I even be able to run? Well, today I quite happily ran eight miles without collapsing, falling over or any muscle tightness. All the hard work does pay off and creates a base fitness which helps when it comes to getting back into the swing of things. I’m sure it will play in my favour over the next few months as I enter racing season.
- Think pre-season
For some reason or other, I always associate the term pre-season with football. When teams play friendlies to test out how the players will work together when it comes to the league games. Summer’s over and it’s all about getting those legs moving. And like those Premier League players, I’m doing Pilates to safeguard my body against injury, I’m working on my technique to ensure I can finish in style and I’m gradually building up the mileage. In terms of strategy, this still needs a bit of an evaluation as my focus is on next year’s big adventure (which hasn’t been booked yet). But I’m working towards it and thinking of how I can ensure this comeback kid will be stronger, faster and fitter than ever, just like the footballers Cech, Cisse, Arfa and Mendes.
- Don’t rush it