The 2nd of January, during a night training in Guardamar´s sand dunes (Alicante), I broke my big toe in several pieces, with a bad hit against a strong root. Of course, the frustration was high for a moment, because I had been training very well for couple of weeks and it is never nice to step back and postpone a good plan.
But I also knew that I had enough time to recover before the first important races and my ultimate goal of the season – the World Championships in Scotland. When you are injured, the most important thing is to have a step by step approach and not make too ambitious plans at the beginning of the rehab. The idea is to always keep asking yourself if what you´re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.
Thus, the beginning of the process was quite slow, as I was not supposed to put any weight on my foot for six weeks at least. The only activities which were pain free were double-pulling in those skiErg machines and pull-ups. May be not the most effective running training, but it was good enough to fill-up the empty days. Playing the video game Catching features and setting courses on old WOC maps were also great to keep my mind in competition mood.
After 4 weeks, I was able to add some more activities to my program with biking and elliptical machines as well. I would have already given a lot to break the windows of the gym I was training in and enjoy a run in typical Uppsala winter weather… The hungriness for orienteering was rising day by day. Unfortunately, I couldn´t use the water-running as expected and like during my other long injuries period (stress-fractures episodes) because of the water´s vibration on the foot bones.
After 6 weeks, I was running again… with only 15 kilos of my weight. At that time, I was traveling 4 days per week at Telge Rehab center, in Södertälje to get access to an anti-gravity treadmill, called Alter-G, where you are basically lifted from the ground and can adjust the weight of your body, from 20% to 100%. The idea was to slowly increase the pressure on my bones, but also to get back the running muscles in action again,couple of weeks earlier than if I had been waiting a full healing of the toe. The first runs were incredible nice and it makes me realized how much I love running. But once again, I was impressed how lazy the muscles gets when you don´t use them that long…
After about 2 month, I was finally able to get my first run with full weight and decided to not wait more to start also orienteering. I opted for very soft terrains at the beginning and to return to Guardamar where everything started. I have always loved this place and this bad experience didn´t changed the way I saw this place – one of the best place for winter preparation. I also had to add an extra size for all my VJ shoes to allow my “still swollen foot” to fit in. The Sarva D´vil were the ones I was using most, which offered a perfect comfort and fitting during that period.
Running in forest felt uncomfortable at the beginning but luckily the pain was possible to handle. The feelings and trust in my orienteering were coming back legs after legs, and for the first time I could make longer plans for the coming weeks.
After another camp in Madrid, where there were improvements in term of number of trainings per days and duration, I could realistically prepare for my first competition of the season, the JK organized in Lake District in England for Easter.
During those competitions, I had trouble to control my eagerness and lack of competition routines. I was far too excited to have good technical runs both days. But I was very pleased with my long distance performance and I saw it as a good reward for a committed rehab.
I am now writing this blog from Scotland, where I have only the WOC races in mind. Of course, there are still a lot of work ahead, and the coming weeks will be equally important as the first ones after my injury. I am probably not yet back where I want to be but an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it´s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming!
Training greetings from the Cairngorms!