Finding my mojo again after spinal injury

LeighM Posts: 156

In March '15, I was a keen Duathlete/Triathlete with a slim chance of GB World Championships age group qualification. However, in September '15 I suffered a serious spinal injury (non-bike related) which left me paralysed from the neck down and thought I'd never walk again, never mind run or ride my bike.

After 3 months in hospital learning to walk and feed myself again and a further 4 months recovering at home I returned to road riding in March '16. My desire to ride again really spurred me on during those dark, paralysed days in hospital and I'd spent a lot of my rehab on my turbo trainer so felt 'ready'. I was so weak and wobbly when I first went out that its a wonder I wasn't run over :shock: :roll: .

I got progressively stronger throughout the spring and summer, but it didn't feel the same. I was nowhere near as quick and strong as i was pre-accident, which hurt me physically and mentally - pouring over past Strava performances is a real downer when you're nowhere near as quick. Gradually my enthusiasm wained and my last road ride was in August '16 and I've not been on the turbo in almost a year.

During this lay-off, I've been concentrating on my running and whilst I've still got a long way to go before i'm anywhere near my PBs, I'm definitely getting stronger and quicker. This has rekindled my desire to get back on the bike and get riding again, so the turbo is getting set up this weekend and the Zwift subscription renewed. In the back of my mind, I'm still worried it'll end the same way as it did last year, but I've got to try. I should maybe just be thankful that I can run and ride at all and forget about pace and distance, but I'm always going to want to go faster and further.

Has anyone got a similar story of recovery? How did you overcome the 'past' and move forward? Can it ever be 'the same'?

Any training suggestions gratefully received.
2014 Trek Madone 4.7 | 2009 Trek Fuel EX7 | Planet X Pro Carbon Track Elite


  • Set up a new account. it will help you to improve from where you are, not compare to where you were.
  • webboo
    webboo Posts: 6,087
    Pretend you have just turned 60.
  • meursault
    meursault Posts: 1,433
    None of us can ever be the same. Take small steps, make achievable targets.
    Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

  • FatTed
    FatTed Posts: 1,205
    Good luck and perhaps just be glad you can walk again, perhaps reset your aims, perhaps long distance cycling where speed is not everything.
    Have a look at her journey
  • napoleond
    napoleond Posts: 5,992
    Have broken my back, leg and shoulder and have various bits of metalwork in.
    I took up tri/Duathlon last year, I couldn't swim a length and running was woeful.
    However I'm now on the cusp of GB qualification and have PBd at 10 and 25m Time Trials since the injuries.
    It can be done.
    The important thing to remember is to enjoy what you are doing rather than comparing to past performance.
    Insta: ATEnduranceCoaching
    ABCC Cycling Coach
  • 964cup
    964cup Posts: 1,362
    I'm (about to be) in a similar place. I had a two-level spinal fusion at the end of November; I've had a variety of nasty complications since - and I now have the viral cough that everyone has, just to put the cherry on top. I've been cleared to get back on a turbo (gently) but I'm not well enough yet. I did try yesterday just to see if I could get on in the first place, and the answer is...just. I've lost all my flexibility (I used to be able to get my hands flat on the floor, now I can literally barely touch my knees - it's a really odd feeling), I've dropped half a stone of muscle mass over the last seven weeks, and my legs feel weird thank to the nerve stretch and hip-flexor realignment that go with the surgery.

    I'm finding the prospect of months of careful stretching and ever-so-ginger turbo sessions just to get to a place from which I can begin to train properly really daunting. Right now, getting back to the form I had pre-op seems unthinkable.

    I will of course obey the Rules and HTFU, but I am also seriously considering getting a personal trainer (and/or a physio) for a while - or finding some kind of (Heaven help me) support group - just to have some help with motivation. I have to wait another five weeks before I can do anything strenuous anyway, which just gives more time for my form to fade, but at least it also gives me time to get over this stupid cough and find the right help.
  • I came back from life changing spinal cord injury's 15 years ago, its a long process to recovery both physically and mentally.
    2 years really is early days and it already sounds like you have come a long way, be patient with yourself and keep testing your fitness, but sounds like you are already doing very well.
    2010 Specialized Tricross (commuter)
    2014 Whyte T129-S
    2016 Specialized Tarmac Ultegra Di2
    Big Mitch - YouTube