Turning Adversity In To An Asset

**Disclaimer – this blog post was mentally crafted during a cyclo-cross sprint training session, so excuse its seeming edgy-aggressive tone.

So last year at this time I was in the throes of a torn MCL, ACL and meniscus – the result of a series of events – a couple of encounters with enthusiastic dogs, and the final blow coming at US National Mountain Bike Marathon Champs.


I interviewed four ortho-surgeons, two dismissing the severity, saying, “You’re fine, carry on.” The only logical reason I can figure for this advice, is that it was a case of “Ah, she’s a 40-something and has plenty of stability to push her mini-cart down the Whole Foods isle and load the groceries into her Prius.”

Let me be clear on one thing…I do not drive a Prius :)

But honestly, the best thing these docs did for me, is underestimate me. As a result, I decided I was not quite ready to throw up the white flag and curl up in my coffin, and signed-up for surgery with a surgeon who understood and respected my lifestyle.

I mentally had this strange peace with the entire episode – injury and prospect of surgery, the journey back, and all that entailed. I saw this six-month hiatus as an opportunity to push my body’s mental and physical reset button. I also, in a very positive way welcomed this opportunity to rehab, and return to sport as a way to emotionally and physically live every minute detail, that I train and work with others to accomplish. And finally – I saw it as a challenge to return stronger than I had left sport, by placing a more purposeful emphasis on stability and mobility, basically the only things I could do for the first couple months.

Athletes that I coach will tell you, they get sick and tired of me continually emphasizing that the off-endurance work of hip activation, hip-trunk stability and global mobility takes equal billing to the sport-specific endurance work. But I am a sincere believer, because I have experienced the benefits of this consistent investment in my own athletic life.

I took this rehab opportunity as a focused period to develop and improve every little functional stability and mobility fiber of my body. I knew that if I set this foundation in place – when the time came to hop back on my bike, and start running again it would translate in to improved efficiency of power in to the pedals and foot strike, and act as my safety net to help avoid over-use as well as traumatic injuries.

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Nearly a year to the date of my decisive injury last year, I lined up for US National Mountain Bike XC Champs, and finished what I started, to take the victory. And like with all of our endeavors – the riches and lasting benefit was not on that particular day, but all that I had experienced, learned and gained along the way.

So it goes, seeming set-backs can be turned in to invaluable opportunities.