Recovery

I’m making progress with my recovery after my broken leg (fibula). It’s been seven weeks since I crashed out of the singlespeed race at the USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross National Championships.

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I’ve gone from no boot, to a boot, to a cast, back to a boot, and now no boot. I would say that the first part of my recovery has been good, but a full recovery and “pain-free” status is months away.

This past Tuesday, I returned to the orthopedic doctor and got an updated x-ray that showed the “callous” forming around the break. The “crack” is still clearly visible, but the material formed around the sides of it are a natural stabilizer. The persistent pain and discomfort is partially due to all the soft tissue damage that occurred during the impact/crash, and also as a result of the pressure from the callus.

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I stayed off my feet, using crutches, for nearly six weeks. The combination of the boot and the crutches was causing all kinds of other issues, including back pain, IT band pain, and frustration. So, when it felt like I could put weight on my leg, I started walking. That was about 10 days ago. During my layoff, I shortened my work days and did a lot of work remotely via computer and phone. As for exercise, I maintained a simple strength,  stretching, and Yoga routine that saw me doing 25-35 minutes a day of floor activity.

Subsequent to starting walking without the crutches, I’ve swam a few times, and spun on the indoor bicycle a few times. I’ve returned to “normal” days, which for me, means being on the go for 12 hours at a clip. In the first week, I was completely knackered at the end of the day, but I am starting to regain some strength and stamina.

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The last two months have been rough, but I’ve also learned a lot. I withdrew from the Metasprint Duathlon, the Mt. Tammany 40 Mile Trail Race, the Traprock 50K, and the Rasputitsa Spring Classic. I’m going to ease my way back to full strength and focus on swimming and easy riding. One of the benefits of the situation is that I will “reset” and go back to building my fitness base.

When I return from my trip, the time will have changed, and I’ll begin commuting to work. I’m going to be cautious about mountain biking, likely avoiding it for a few more months. I have no plan or desire to run. I’ll be happy if I can run by August. It may be sooner, but I’m in no rush. I only want to be ready to go for cyclocross in September, and if I’m not hitting my stride until November, that’s fine because it is a long season and my main goal is to redeem myself at the second 2018 Cyclo-Cross National Championships in Louisville in mid-December.

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Everyone in my family, at work, and in my various networks has been super helpful. I’ve gotten some great tips and shared experiences from many of my athlete friends. My broken shoulder felt more traumatic at the time of the injury, but it as turned out to be a lot less significant than this broken leg. The immobility challenge, the lingering effects, and the fact that it sets back everything; biking, running, swimming, and even walking, means that it is worse.

Others have suffered far more debilitating injuries, including double fractures, compound fractures, and breaks requiring surgery. In that regard, I’m fortunate. Factor in that the fibula is a small bone that isn’t used for primary weight-bearing, but rather for stabilization and support. This means that I have to move it to get the muscle and tendons to begin their healing process. Folks with a similar injury have told me that the pain lingers and that there is a potential for setbacks if you re-injure the leg.

The doctor said I could walk, spin, and swim. The spinning includes riding outside, but easily and on the road or smooth surfaces. I haven’t ridden outside yet, but plan to do so in mid-March.

The most challenging aspect of this injury has been the mental challenge. I went from being at peak fitness to being hurt, in an instant. My original January/February plan was to return from Reno, rest, recover, and then reset my base before I started running more in advance of the duathlon and the two trail ultras. Debbie is still doing these races, so I have to support her while missing out on the fun. I also missed a trip to Nicaragua and several important meetings. My Asia trip has also been significantly impacted. During this entire struggle, I’ve had the type of daily chronic pain that I’ve never had before. All of this has forced me to summon mental strength of a different sort. I feel like I’ve handled this OK. I have been mindful that my two children are witness to my setback and how I handle it is a lesson for them. I would want them to persevere, so that is why I’ve pushed on and maintained a positive attitude.

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