We’ll be taking a break from writing about the usual women’s issues in cycling for this week. Instead I’d like to share with you all a little something personal to me. A new season of racing and enjoying the bike is upon us, and the risk of getting hurt or injured is something we all dance with from time to time. This post is for anybody who needs a reminder of the bigger picture, and also the smaller picture, of how we all look at these moments in our cycling life. Enjoy, and as always, ride on.
When you’re feeling good with training you never really think about the bad times and how hard they are to get through. However, when you’re injured, you always wonder how it is possible you took all of those good times for granted; like they would never end, and you just blithely went about training like everything was always gains, and never once thought you’d lose. Upon meditating on this thought, I decided to write a letter to myself for those instances when I need a reminder of what this is all about.
And so here’s what I’d want to say to myself, or anybody else, who is dealing with the dark place of injury. The place where we may go when we feel the loss of momentum. This is for all of us, for anybody who needs to know you’re not alone, you’re not going to be here forever, you’re not a failure.
This is the middle.
You are in the middle of it.
This isn’t the end, and you’re certainly not at the beginning of anything new. You’re still in the middle of your cycling career, albeit just moving at different pace than before.
You’re definitely used to moving though; whether it be literally on the bike and training, or figuratively towards goals and aspirations, movement is intricately woven into your identity. You’re so used to moving that to suddenly lose such a substantial amount of momentum, the force is so strong that you end up feeling it seize at a deep level inside of you; it leaves you feeling like you’ve somehow lost something. And here you are, in the middle of things, feeling a little less of yourself.
Your passion is in tact though.
Nobody warned you about this part of what it means to be passionate. Nobody told you this experience came with the heart; that this happens when you dedicate your personal time and emotions towards something that allows you to discover who you are as a person. This is apart of the deal; when you’re enveloped with continuously striving to challenge yourself, wanting to see how much further you can go, how uncomfortable you can get, just to see what’s on the other side of the fear of now. Sometimes what’s on the other side is an injury, it’s a crash, and that’s where you are at this moment. You’re dealing with that part of being passionate.
Crashing and injuries took me a long time to accept as something that is intimately apart of what it means to be an athlete. It’s easy to to associate crashing and injuries with what we think of as being failures. We’ve failed ourselves because we have seized from doing what we love to do; we’re falling backwards because we’ve lost our movement; the goal was to never NOT move, and yet I’ve allowed myself to being a position where I am no longer moving. That’s the risk we take though, and now you must experience what’s on the other side of coming up short of a goal.
Have you ever really asked yourself what failure is to you, what it actually is? For myself, at it’s basics, failure is when no goals are met, and nothing is gained. That’s failing in its essence. You must always find something to take from a crash, because if not, then it’s a missed opportunity to grow from the experience. And that’s why you’re here, to grow.
Yes, your muscles will lose some density.
Yes, you’ll fiddle around with your body; look at it from different angles, watch what took you seasons to gain simple loosen up, and not be recognizable.
Your body will change in this process of healing. It will happen, and I won’t ignore that side of it, but you will get onto the other side of this process; the side where you’re back on the bike, and doing what you love. Just be patient with yourself, be patient with your body, be patient with your heart.
It takes time to get stronger, but your body is more resilient from an injury that you think. The body has a memory better than the mind sometimes. It’ll surprise you how quickly you’ll bounce back.
You’re not a failure.
Someone with passion in their heart never fails. They stumble, yes, but never fails.