Coming back from an accident – learning from my mistakes
Last January I was hit by a car while cycling on a small country road. This was the second bike accident in 2.5 years that left me badly injured, so again, I had to start a rehabilitation process to get back into shape. After the first accident I made many mistakes that didn’t help me get back into shape, so this time I decided to change my approach. I’d like to share with you what I think I did wrong the first time and what has helped me so far during the current rehabilitation process.
After the first accident I wanted to get back into shape too fast. First of all, I overdid the exercises my physiotherapist gave me, because I thought my body could handle it. This worked well in the beginning, but after a week progress stopped and the pains started to increase. It was really frustrating to realize that by doing too much, I had actually taken several steps back which cost me much more time. Then, as soon as I could walk, I wanted to get back on the bike. I did a few short rides which went okay, so I thought it was time to regain my speed. I started to train on nearby climbs and as soon as I got back home, I uploaded the Garmin data to Strava to see how fast I had climbed. This really didn’t help me. Even after a few weeks I couldn’t even get close to my KOM time, which frustrated the hell out me. I didn’t have fun anymore and it felt like my hard work didn’t pay off, so why did I even bother? Like I wrote in my post “Cycling is fun (again)!“, I was extremely focused on riding fast, but I forgot all about the most important thing: cycling should be fun!
So, this time I tried to learn from my mistakes and this is what I did (and still do) and what might help you if you have been in an accident yourself:
1. As long as I’m still coming back from the accident, everything I do should be fun, not hard work.
While you do need to train to get back into shape and training rides can be hard work, making sure you have fun is in my humble opinion the most important thing to do. By enjoying your bike rides, you’ll be in a better place to improve and to start ride faster.
2. I accepted the fact that the rehabilitation process is long, so I tried not to be too hard on myself.
If you get hit by a car and you can’t even walk for several weeks, don’t expect to do 100 km rides any time soon. It’s a long process and accepting that fact will help you through it. If you planned a ride but you don’t feel like it, either make it a much shorter or easier ride or don’t ride at all. But whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up about it.
3. I better listened to my body and avoided overdoing exercises.
If you are doing exercises or starting to rid your bike again, you might feel all kinds of pains. So just take baby steps and see whether you’re ready to take on certain exercises.
4. I still uploaded my rides to Strava, but wasn’t looking at my times at all.
While Strava is a nice tool for fanatic cyclists, seeing that you “suck” is not really helping you getting faster. During the rehabilitation process you can still use Strava for statistics, so you can see how many kilometers you rode and how many meters you climbed, but active KOM or PR attempts should probably be put on hold for a while.
5. I tried to do as many rides possible with other cyclists.
If you have the possibility to ride with friends, then do it! Riding together is more fun and helps you distract yourself from negative thoughts. Good friends will support you and will keep in mind that your speed isn’t as high as before.
I’m still not back at the level I was before the accident, but until now the road to get there has been fun for the most part. If you have any tips regarding the rehabilitation process, then leave a comment or contact me.