Sports injuries suck, but opportunity knocks

witchcraft, spells, and potionsI was laying on an exam table for physical therapy, yesterday – not my favorite place to be. I trashed my left hip flexor on Saturday,  practicing bike remounts. (the kind when you just know it’s not good.) It was like being on a torture table because I knew the first step was going to be “rest”.  I hate rest.

(Note: This is not a cyclocross injury.  I’ve been “managing” it all tri season and hoping things would resolve on their own. My tri coach tactfully suggested that dealing with it would make a great off-season project. XC may not be the best rehab option for hip flexors.)

As an FYI, I get a little pissy when I’m injured and this sucked. I was riding my 1st race/ DFL high and looking forward to trying Gloucester with friends.
After the pissy phase, I entered the little crazy/desperate phase. I threw down 800 mg of ibuprofen, smeared on the biofreeze, and attacked the foam roller. After an hour without improvement, I made a desperate run to the pharmacy to buy Kinisio tape. After a bunch “How to Tape a Hip Flexor” videos on YouTube, my left hip was covered in black tape and I was hopeful. Specifically hoping for an overnight miracle cure.

I woke up on Sunday – no miracle. Crap. Maybe a pre-ride lap at Gloucester would loosen things up. It didn’t. It merely confirmed the absence of an overnight miracle. Crap. I went back to pissy.

Back into spectator uniform
Me, pissy @rsgloucester

Somehow, while I was trying to rationalize something pretty stupid, I remembered to eat my own dog food.  I checked my activity against my goals – I felt frenetic, so I knew something fundamental was off. My goals for all of this athletic stuff is to 1.have fun; 2. appreciate what my body is capable of; and 3. be healthy & smart so the fun and the body last as long as possible. I could push through this race, but I was stressed and it was unlikely to be very fun. It could also lead to a longer period of rest for recovery and could even mean no more races this fall and/or no hard training for a while.  None of these were acceptable to me. I unwilling to accept the downside of racing today. Since I wasn’t favored to win and wasn’t taking home any prize money to feed my family – I made the choice that was best for my long-term / overall goals. And remained pretty pissy about the whole situation.

On Monday I got my PT prescription and my initial exam was set for the next day. My hip flexor was definitely healing and feeling much better – almost enough improvement to rethink PT. If I hadn’t said something out loud to Jason, I might have “waited”, but I promised I was taking care of this. I really didn’t want another DNS.

Tuesday morning, the pissiness finally started to fade. I resigned to my situation. I do believe that every injury is a message from my body which I’m usually too dense to hear the first few times.  My ever-so-helpful body elevates the warnings until I finally pay attention.  The simple message here was that I needed to invest in my hip flexors if I wanted to continue to push faster cycling and run times. It wasn’t going to happen without a new strategy. I want to be active until I’m ~100+, so I “choose” to participate in a healthy sustainable way. Sigh.

Once I accepted my injury, I felt less crazed and could see how modifying short term plans actually better supported my long-term goals.  I relax ed a bit. This was when the new opportunity represented itself.  This injury actually gave me a restart on cyclocross.

As an enthusiastic human, I frequently start things in the middle. (I was the kid who spent more time thinking of a band name than learning how to actually play guitar, when starting a rock band.)  We had skin suits designed and delivered before I even had a CX bike, let alone ever rode on grass, dirt, or gravel (forget sand, mud, or wood chips). In my usual enthusiasm, I got my cross bike and jumped into skills classes without learning how to ride off asphalt! These details may have occurred to someone else a little sooner, but I get so darn excited.

Opportunity in InjuryIn that moment it occurred to me that this could be a better (probably more fun) approach to CX. And it works with PT and modified training – no mounts or dismounts or big hills for a while, but I can ride flat on a variety of terrain, do turning drills, and get comfortable on my bike – learn how it works and return to drills when I have a better foundation. Brilliant.

Sometimes my body is much smarter than my brain. Without an intermission – I guarantee you I would have continued to slam through drills and be the slowest human between features – ever.


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