While on vacation, I asked Michael Pusateri to guest post and he wrote about being injured. His crash was far worse than mine this season and we both learned a hard lesson for cyclists, especially older ones. You have to accept you’re hurt and regroup for the next goal.
When you are a cyclist, life is often all about the goal. Sometimes the goal is the hill, the time, the stop sign, and for a lucky few, the podium.
Everyone is moving toward something. An objective that rolls around their brain pushing and pulling them past the comfort zone into the suffer.
A friend coaches athletes and his motto is “Train focused.” For a long time I thought it was some new - agey bullshit. Kind of like the motivational speeches I’ve heard from coaches all my life, a purely emotional tug to pull that last ounce of energy from deep inside. I have to admit, that kind of thing can work, but the effects are fleeting.
Recently, I learned what he was actually getting at.
My cycling goals have always been stuff like beating my time on a local hill, staying with the fast group on the club ride, completing a century, riding cyclocross, and similar things that you read about in magazines. Most cyclists have their list of goals and ideas that percolate in their mind when they pull a jersey over their head. Staying focused on the goals is key to completing them.
But sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. Recently, I crashed my bike. Hard. In a cycling trifecta, I broke my collarbone, wrist, and back. Leaving the hospital with both arms strapped to my body, pain shooting with every bump in the road, my wife’s eyes still red from tears, I couldn’t help but think about when I could ride again.
The first week I tried to do as much as possible, fantasizing about how to get back on a trainer or spin bike. And it was impossible. I literally could not feed myself and had to drink meals from a straw. Finally, my wife said, “Your job is to heal. That’s it. Leave the rest to us.”
At that moment I realized what Training Focused really meant. Knowing what you are trying to do and stop being distracted by all the crazy ideas. My job was to heal. My goal was to recover. Cycling could wait. And in reality, starting back too early would hurt my ‘goal’.
Once I accepted my real goal, I could get back into my athlete’s mindset and start focusing on doing what was needed to reach my goal. Getting enough sleep, eating right, ice, heat, taking pills on time, and even a little walking. Going in for the weekly x - ray became a event to be won, by focusing on my recovery.
Setting unrealistic plans of getting back on my bike too early, would have done nothing to help me with my real goal of healing. It’s easy to be lured into the false goal of trying to be a tough guy that can ride through injury, but in reality, it’s the worst thing someone can do.
Know what your goal is. Even when that goal is sitting in a chair wearing an ice pack. Work as hard to podium in the Doctor’s office as you would on the road.