Training Remix: Broken collarbone recovery plan


This year, I had a clear path to a big block of training in July–a little unstructured, but I had the time, great weather, and some nice momentum from spring.  With all that out the window, I’m looking at a recovery plan and how to get back all I’m losing now.

Last Saturday was the JAM Fund Grand FUNdo, a ride I’ve done in the past, features the vibrant elite & citizen cyclocross community in western Mass.  A couple of friends came over to visit me after the event (which is 2 miles down the road from me), and I told them of my plan to be racing cyclocross by October.  My friend Gail gently tried to dial me back.  “I think you’re out this year.” She said.  She cautioned one fall too early could easily rebreak newly healed bones.  I know she’s a little bit right, but this approach is super conservative–and cross season lasts until December.  I feel like that’s plenty of time to heal properly and still squeak out a few good races this year.

It’s been 9 days since the accident and little has changed in terms of discomfort and pain.  Breathing is painful when I breath deeply.  The shoulder feels a bit better but I think I’m doing a REALLY good job of keeping the shoulder immobile.  In another week, I’m hoping my rib stops hurting enough for more labored breathing that comes with some physical effort.

This is the plan:

  • Walking.  I started doing this immediately and got a 4 mile walk in yesterday.  My rib hurts, but my shoulder feels ok during the walks now, and just a bit achy after.
  • After 2-3 weeks, stationary bike and/or trainer. I have access to both at home, but the stationary bike, while less like actual bike riding, is more stable and comfortable for these early recovery workouts. The pain associated with breathing will inform how intense I can do this, but my main goal is to spin a bit, and mitigate the loss of overall fitness.
  • Assessment.  I have an appointment after my early August vacation (where I’m traveling to Seattle) to see how the healing is going.  I’m very hopeful that things will be progressing well and corrective surgery won’t be needed at that time.
  • Physical therapy/gentle use. Providing the assessment goes well I’m hoping to come out of the sling at that point.  My assessment is supposed to happen at 4 weeks, but can’t happen until 5 weeks due to my trip to Seattle.  So in the 5th week, I’ll know more, and if things are good…..maybe I’ll be able to come out of the sling.  What the doctor thinks will largely determine what’s next. See a physical therapist, do my exercises.
  • Riding on flat surfaces.  I’m really hoping to start this by September.  Minimize risk of falls by keeping surfaces even and flat.  Continue to heal.  Listen to the advice of medical professionals.  Focus on intervals, rebuilding overall endurance.
  • Graduate to gravel & mixed terrain. Hoping by late September/early October to be on some gravel or tame forest paths. Can I start dismount and remounts by now?  I’m not sure.  I don’t want to be stupid, but with daylight fading and cross season in full swing, I want to ensure my training is moving forward.  There are a couple of gravel rides I’m looking at like the Dirty Apple (my friend Laura is organizing this for her bike club, and she’s the queen of route planning, so it’s going to be freaking awesome).
  • Start racing in late October.  This is my amended plan.  Originally I thought I could start racing in early October, but this is probably too ambitious. I thought about how probable crashing is during any race.  Last year, out of 11 races, I crashed at least 6 times.  That’s a 54% chance of crashing. I can’t count the crashes practicing, warming up, doing regular rides, pre-riding, etc.  I think giving my bones 2-3 more weeks before racing is probably a smart way to go.  Remember, there are no shocks on cross bikes!
Date Race Name Place Racers Points Crash?
7-Sep Wendolowski Farm Cross 19 20 692.08 Yes, 2x
30-Sep KMC Cross Festival Day 2 12 25 589.58 No
1-Oct KMC Cross Festival Day 3 16 16 723.37 No-flatted
8-Oct Minuteman CX 29 58 602.12 Yes
14-Oct CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 1 48 72 653.26 Yes
15-Oct CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 2 29 58 600 No
29-Oct Wicked Creepy Cyclocross Race, part of the NYCROSS.com Series 5 11 583.06 No
11-Nov Northampton International Cyclocross Day 1 18 35 583 Yes
12-Nov Northampton International Cyclocross Day 2 17 27 620.49 No
25-Nov Secret Squirrel 8 28 552.78 Yes-Preride
8-Dec The Ice Weasels Cometh 14 26 609.53 No–but one close call!

If I start racing late October/Early November, I think I can get at least 5 races in.  I usually am pretty done by the end of November, and the Ice Weasels is just the end of the year party.

I’m sad to lose this summer for riding.  I was exploring new roads nearly every ride, feeling relatively strong this summer, and I wanted to see where I could take that. Last fall was a breakthrough season for me in terms of my cross performance, and I know with focused effort and an actual plan that I follow, improvements are possible.  I enjoy this the most–improving against my own results, especially as I grow older.

-Karen

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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

One response to “Training Remix: Broken collarbone recovery plan”

  1. Laura says :

    ICE WEASELS!!!! You’ll be OK for that. Looking forward to attending a party on wheels wth you again.

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