From operation table to Team GB world championships in 11 weeks
3 months ago my world turned upside down.
Within walking into hospital at 12pm I was operated the same day by 10pm to remove an organ that was potentially fatal.
I was in the middle of training for my first event as a GB age grouper at the Multi Sport Championships.
My first question for the doctor after coming round from the operation was strictly "When can I start training again?" Emphasising to him the importance and staple part of my life that sport was. After a lot of persuasion, I managed to negotiate him down from 8 weeks of rest and recovery to 6 weeks. In the end I had 6 weeks off cycling and 8 weeks off swimming due to an infection.
This left me with 4 weeks to train in the swim and 6 weeks to train and taper for 3km swim and 120km bike. This was not how I wanted to train. I always try to train with sufficient time to avoid injury, and train to a periodization structure. Blocks of 4 weeks - 3 weeks build, 1 week easy. There wasn't time this time round.
I had visions of jumping straight back into training and smashing the training. Thinking I'd be itching to get back. The truth is, I felt vulnerable, physically weak, and I was also emotionally recovering. It's not that easy to jump straight back in and 'smash it' just like you see* often on Instagram.
I enlisted the help of Coach Gareth who not only helped trained me for the event, he supported me through the recovery. Having someone have my back, knowing where I can physically push it, and if I had down days or unmotivated would give me the support I needed. And also advise when I needed to hold back and rest. Wouldn't have been able to do it without a coach for sure!
So here is a run through of tips for those recovery from operation, injury or illness.
Be kind to your body, and always think 'would I recommend this to a friend' (i.e. jumping straight into training as hard as possible)
Slowly build time and intensity of training.
Don't give yourself too challenging goals, only realistic and reachable.
Yoga and pilates are a great start to building strength in slow and controlled environments with professionals helping you.
Create a realistic plan, outlining the hours and intensity, distance that you will slowly build up to.
Be flexible in that plan, if you need to change it, slow down, do more - so be it.
Swimming. Swimming one of the only sports that is truly non impact and utilises almost all muscles in the body. It's often used for rehabilitation. It's also amazing for the mind and incredibly theraputic.
Be kind to yourself altogether.
Tap into your support network of friends, family, mentors etc.
Remember that there are many other people in the same position. Also think about how the professional and elites feel, who do this as their job and depend on money from their sport, that they cannot do when injured.
I hope the above helps, do let me know what other tips have helped you through dark periods of recovery.
So what's next for me? Well, I aim to be a bit more kind and compassionate to myself, getting rest, spending time with loved ones. I'm really focussing on strengthening and conditioning too, practising yoga, doing tempo pilates and lots of swimming and cycling for enjoyment. I also have an exciting 'mini challenge' I have set myself coming up in cycling so watch this space.
* See refers to an image on Instagram that has been carefully curated for the user to see. Not always authentic, true and only shows one dimension of real life.