Some of the worst crashes I’ve experienced have been on the easiest terrain. I can’t recall all the times I’ve bailed on the Five Mile ski run at Sun Peaks Resort. Confidence soaring, cruising down the hill, the swiiiish swiiiish of smooth, even turns. And then wham! I felt my heel edge dig a little too far into the snow and I slam down on my back and roll, go black for a short moment, trying to catch my toque and goggles while I slide past them. Trying to catch my breath but it won’t come. Reminding myself that this is familiar, that my breath will regulate shortly, to relax. Does anything hurt? Can I see properly? Can I move all of my appendages?
My head rests facing the snow on my diamond-shaped arms. I look up sheepishly and crawl towards my toque and goggles while a resort employee on a snowmobile asks if I’m OK. An edge on the easiest part of the Five Mile, recommended as a top five ski run for kids. Shaken, I take slow, easy turns the rest of the way down, feeling a little dizzy but probably not concussed (this was the moment I decided it was time to wear my helmet from now on). Everything works. I keep riding for a few more hours, though by the end turning is painful. I’d like to say I went to a doctor and got checked out but I was back up there a few days later riding the bunny hill with my niece, grimacing every time I had to do up my bindings. And a day later couldn’t laugh, sit, or sleep comfortably.
Thoughts of being couch-ridden for weeks healing a broken rib, frustrated, fearing overwhelming boredom, hoping that tomorrow I’ll wake up and feel noticeably better. Booking a physio appointment when it doesn’t.The physio pokes and asks questions, provides an instantly relieving stretch. Likely a sprained rib. Phew!
There are certain parts of the year where I feel like I go from injury to injury. Never anything serious, usually a sprain or a big bruise or an overworked muscle. As I write this, the rib feels better unless pressure is applied to it, but now I’m experiencing radiating pain from my hamstring, likely from overstretching the tendon during a vigorous Ashtanga yoga practice.
Have you ever seen a band of conifer trees splashed in what looks like dry, old rusty paint? The hardiest of evergreens lose needles to frost, drought, salt. This “winter injury” doesn’t kill the tree (unless it’s a sign of something seriously wrong, like a spider mite or pine beetle attack). Its branches and leaves will regrow with time and better weather. With honourable patience, it waits to heal.
The human body is incredible. There are fewer things as satisfying as experiencing my body become stronger, more flexible, more able to do more for longer. And there is nothing as humbling as injury, a reminder that the body needs patience, protection, and training. In winter, conifers slow down while I’m busy (but immobile) on my laptop planning adventures for the year. A half-marathon trail running race, a mountain bike enduro, a tri-sport adventure race, bike touring, long gravel rides, planning to push myself to achieve things I didn’t used to think my body was capable of.
But before I dive in, I have to keep reminding myself to build strength as well as endurance, to rest, to get off my ass during the work day and use my standing desk, warm up (especially when it’s cold), rest and heal when I need to and be patient with my body. I won’t stop (I don’t think I can) but I will move forward more mindfully.