This week, pro-rider Brodie Chapman explores her relationship and approach to injury and how to goal set, prioritise and get back to doing what you love. This article comes off the back of an old injury re-emerging with a few set backs along the way.
I’ve been confronted with multiple injuries throughout my life and professional cycling career. Some of which were straight forward, others complex, others my fault and another certainly down to bad luck.
Here’s my approach to injury and how I treat it as my focus when I can’t ride.
Let go of blame.
It’s hard to heal when you are constantly in a state of contraction towards the reason for your injury. You can’t put your energy into healing if you are holding onto the bitterness of blame. Your situation is what your situation is. Don’t resist it, reckon with it.
Rushing only makes it worse.
Your body actually needs time to heal and although you think pushing through pain and discomfort is a way to get back to form sooner it’s actually a great way to sabotage your future strength and fitness. I have made this mistake more times than one and every time I’ve ended up with a complication or injury elsewhere as a result of trying to force the body back.
Don’t calorie restrict
Healing an injury uses a surprising amount of energy. It’s important to focus on regular balanced meals with an emphasis on nutrient density and proteins for repair. Talk to your doctor about supplements that might help depending on the nature of the injury. Anything that promises a quick fix is a red flag. The only difference is that if you cease training completely you won’t need to fuel your training with extra carbohydrates (CHO) on top of a normal healthy amount.
Be wary of trying to do everything else while injured.
Rest not only means not training but it also means joy overloading your system with other sources of life stress or admin.
Be disciplined in your rehab.
Treat your rehab with the same focus and care as you do your training. Schedule it in, prioritise it and tick it off daily.
Reach out to others and share your stories.
You might learn something from someone else’s journey and it’s a nice feeling to relate you.
Your identity as an athletic person.
Your identity as a fitness fan or a dedicated cyclist isn’t going to disappear. Realising you are still a worthy functioning human being when you can’t exercise is an important part of growth and it’s also not going to disappear during injury. Often if you have been going full gas at riding for a long time you will find you will return with a sense of refreshment and a new drive.
Make a plan to go back to sport.
With the help of your coach/team/physio make a plan on how to return gradually and focus on each small improvement. Having a roadmap to return to your previous form that is supported by health professionals will give you a bit more certainty and some clear goals to set towards recovery.
Brodie is currently in the final stages of recovering from an injury at the end of the season. Unfortunately, a crash in The Netherlands knocked a small titanium screw from an old injury loose, which had to be removed.
The expectation was she would be back on the bike 7 days later but complications post surgery have meant that she needed another operation and a much longer stint off the bike.
She’s on the road to make a full recovery and be ready to some bike packing adventures in the off season.