A few weekends ago, CrossFit Oshkosh had 8 teams compete in a local competition. I was lucky enough to be competing on one of those teams, especially since it was my first competition in a year.
September of 2016 I was in, what I consider, to be the best shape of my life. I had spent the summer preparing for a 3 day, team of 3, competition with two of my close friends. The whole competition went better than we ever thought it could have! We had a blast and even got a couple event wins! I was coming home with more motivation than ever and new goals in place, but little did I know within 5 short days all of those goals would be changing.
We got home late Sunday night. I was antsy as ever, having all this motivation, to get back in the gym, but my first two days home were rest days. Wednesday came and it was my first day back in the gym with just some light cardio and body weight movements. Thursday was another rest day, so by now you can probably imagine just how excited I was to see that I would be lifting on Friday!
I had just wrapped up coaching the night classes and I couldn’t wait to hit the platform! I had a warm-up planned, I was preparing to work to a heavy squat clean. I was feeling great, all lifts were smooth. After I successfully hit 95% of my current 1 rep max squat clean, I said to myself, “f^&k it”, and threw on 5lbs over my current PR. The pull was great, I got under the bar fast with my elbows through, and I was in the hole (bottom of the squat) ready to finish the lift when my core collapsed, causing my elbow to hit my knee and the bar to pull my wrist back. The first thing that ran through my mind was “is my wrist broken?!” but it all happened so fast, and my mind couldn’t catch up. It was definitely one of those “black-out” moments. Unfortunately, the only reason I know the details is because I had it on video (it was a PR attempt so obviously I was filming it!).
So here I am, on my way to the ER in complete shock. I had never broken a bone before. That’s when I started to cry, not because of pain, but because reality was starting to hit me. All of those goals I had just set suddenly started to come crashing down on me. “What if I can never touch a barbell again?!” “Maybe I should just quit.” “I don’t want to go back to the treadmills and cardio!”
At the hospital they put me in a temporary cast and told me to call the Orthopedic surgeon on Monday, so I toughed it out over the weekend. When I called Monday, I was informed that I needed to have surgery and they could fit me in the next morning due to a cancellation. I did the only thing that seemed right, if i was going to have surgery I might as well get it over with.
Surgery went well. I gained some new hardware in the form of a plate and 7 screws in my wrist. But the best part of surgery (well the only good part, really), was when I found out my surgeon was a fellow CrossFitter! Being familiar to the physical activity I was doing, and knowing what it would take to achieve those goals I set (that I still had in mind), he was able to recommended me to a specialty center for Physical Therapy that I would start within the next few weeks.
It was finally the day of my first therapy session and I was just as excited as I was nervous – I just want to get the healing process started! I met my Physical Therapist and felt extremely lucky and grateful when I found out not only does he also do CrossFit, he coaches it as well! I feel like things are looking up and I have good care on my side. Then, I start doing the tests of range of motion and I see the look on his face… not good. I can tell he is trying to be positive, but he had to be honest and tell me that I was worse than he expected. The second I walked out of those doors I was immediately in tears again with those same thoughts of “Maybe I should just quit”.
Quitting was the last thing I did. I was determined to get back to that barbell! I did everything my PT told me to do, and then did some more. My goals drifted further into the future, but they never disappeared.
Fast forward a few months, lots of painful PT sessions, boring workouts, and tons of time spent with my coach trying to be creative and “spice up” my workouts with the few things I was able to do – I went in for my 14 week follow up. I was finally cleared to start bearing some weight! Still not much more than the training bar overhead, but I was ready to take full advantage of it!
Recovery continued to get better and better, and both my PT and my doctor agreed that I had come further than they thought would ever be possible after seeing the condition I was in 2 weeks after surgery. At that moment – I don’t think I could have heard anything else that would make me as happy as hearing that did.
As thrilled as I was to get back to training, it was at this time that the really hard part came in. I had to learn to control my training based on feel, and know that I was not going to be able to do a lot of things the same or at the same weight that I was doing pre-injury for a long time. I also didn’t realize how hard it was going to be mentally to get over the block of hitting a heavy squat clean again.
Months and months later I still couldn’t hit more than 80% of my 1 rep max squat clean. Front squats still hurt my wrist, and handstand push-ups seemed impossible. The open was right around the corner and I wanted so badly to be able to RX every workout, and that’s exactly what I did. To say I did well in the open would be a stretch, but I did more than I thought I was going to be able to.
Finding the mind power to take steps back, relearn, strengthen, supplement, and surpass the break is something I am so happy I had to go through. I have PR’d EVERY lift, including the lift that made me go through this whole process in the first place, and I now appreciate those moments more than I ever used to.
What I’m really trying to get at, is that even though things happen that put a damper on your training, or if you’re ever just stuck at a certain point where things seem like they will never get better, you can get past it – and you will. Your mind just has to be stronger than your body.
Take a step back. Make sure the training you are doing is for you, and not anyone else.
You’re on this journey for your own reasons.
Set goals and crush them.