Sometimes it can grab you like a led weight dragging you down, other times it feels like you just want to be angry and short tempered to everyone around you…sitting out, watching from the sidelines, not being able to do what you normally do, feeling pain in every move you make, even breathing hurts. Injury is my nemesis.
It’s been 4 weeks now since I was struck with a suspected broken rib and was reduced to a barely mobile person…that’s pretty hard to take when you have no ‘off’ switch! In that first week there were several moments when I was reduced to inconsolable tears of pain…and being off my bike was agony as the sunny days started to appear. But worse still, I was entering the most active part of the Wheel Women year.
I’ve been struggling with Achilles issues for over a year and at times felt like no end has been in sight. The winter months have paid a cruel blow in the process with my muscles tightening up like bricks, my motivation having significantly waned – the mere thought of heading out on a cold morning has been painful and I know my muscles are begging me ‘please, not again!’
No amount of stretching or massage has been unthreading the knots inside me….until now. The simple act of getting on, or off my bike, was far too excruciating to even contemplate and I needed to give my muscles time to stop, re-think, relax and rest. Though the rib injury has been ridiculously painful, it has forced me to stop – time to file, time to do some paperwork, time to just sit and do nothing but read a book!
I’ve been ‘stopped’ for at least 3 weeks now, and I took my first ride a week ago. I was unable to do any more than 20km before I was in significant pain – as usual, I didn’t stop when I was told I should! But that fear of missing out and that unwillingness to say ‘no’ slipped in again…I should have stopped at 20 minutes like I was instructed to, not 20km!
I tried again on the weekend and managed a little further, with less pain then, more pain after…but I did decide to stop taking the anti-inflammatories too. Who the hell said I should do that…yet again, I overdid things, didn’t listen and just did it anyway because my desperation for time on the bike and not losing fitness kicked in. Dumb, stupid me!
It’s been so tough to watch the photos being posted, hearing stories about rides and who said what, and it’s been tough watching my bike just sit there, watching me…it’s been dull sitting on the trainer! Worst of all, it’s been hard to face how much fitness I’ve lost and that I have weeks ahead of ‘taking it easy’…that’s not something in my vocabulary!
Today I had 2 choices: ride solo and dwell in my frustration, or ride with the group and face the constant questions of ‘are you getting better?’ I opted for the latter only because my guilt of absenteeism from my own ‘business’ was getting the better of me! But he sun was shining, I had the chance to grab some coffee and it meant an enforced short ride with a few of my favourite people.
It would be less than 15km. I’ll admit, I’m sore now, but there was something different…
It was the community: being able to see familiar faces even if they did ask me questions I didn’t feel like answering, being able to talk bikes, take photos, laugh and just take it slowly was the best medicine I’d had in a while. It’s been difficult to stay positive, I’ll admit that. But today I was reminded of the amazing support within my own community…my negativity had been controlling my decision-making and I had failed to look to the very place that is built on positivity, confidence building, friendships and support. Sun, blossom trees, conversation, smiles and bikes…the endorphins kicked in.
The power of finding some positivity when things feel like there is no end in sight, and the power of a smile and laugh can make so much difference to how we see our day. And to find that I never thought to look in my own world of my favourite cycling buddies…I was so overwhelmed with happiness and filled with endorphins to the brim that no matter how much it hurt doing that little effort in the wind, or how much it hurts right now, I feel GREAT (but hand me the anti-inflammatories please)!
After the ride I kept going: looking at the blossoming magnolias, a cruise through the little wetland, exploring streets I’d never been to, having fun with the camera. I realised in just one ride the power of remaining connected with friends, the power of feeling supported, not to mention the realisation that ‘slow down’ means ‘slow down’!
Today probably wouldn’t have felt as good as it did if I hadn’t experienced the warmth and smiles of people who care….my 15km turned into 26kms. Just don’t tell the physio please!
NOTE: On the upside, it turns out the rib was not broken – but this simply means the difference between 6 weeks off the bike, to maybe 4-6 weeks off the bike!! Ouch…bring on the warm weather, get me off the trainer and hand me a coffee: long black with friends please!