2016 has been kind of crappy. World events and celebrity deaths aside (those happen every year, btw), I’ve had lingering problems with injury and mental health. Both of these have significantly affected my year and I want to talk about them. So, I am going to go through things that have happened this year, what I’ve learned and how I plan to deal with them. I hope this will be helpful to those dealing with similar problems. This post will focus on the negatives of this past year and the second part will focus on the positives
Things that happened in 2016
The first major hit to my cycling fitness happened last January 9, the day of my 21st birthday. Being able to legally drink alcohol is a huge revelation because you don’t have to worry about getting arrested if you hypothetically drink a hypothetical alcoholic beverage that you got at a hypothetical party. I also now understand why athletes usually develop before 21, because they don’t have the distraction of legal alcohol. I’m not a huge drinker so this hasn’t been a huge hit and in some cases has actually helped my morale (see Morale Training for my theory on that).
The second major issue this year was more of a chronic, overarching issue. After the UMD team spring training camp in Pisgah National Forest, I developed patellar tendonitis. My PT discovered a large amount of muscle imbalance between my left and right glutes. I believe this was caused by my crash at Duke’s Ninth Street Derby two years ago. Despite a lot of work to correct this issue, I’ve continued having problems. Achilles tendonitis developed in July and then IT Band Syndrome in November.
The third thing that I’ve been fighting has been myself. This is a fight that everyone needs to go through in their lifetime; this is the “why am I here” fight. As the realization that I would be graduating in a year hit me, so did this existential crisis. And it’s especially poignant when you have nothing to distract you, like I did this summer. Thanks to at times monotonous work and an inability to ride thanks to the aforementioned achilles issues, I was fighting my mind. And it made me really sad at times, trying to figure out what was going on up there. It can significantly affect your quality of life.
What I learned and how I plan to continue working to improve
Regarding the alcohol, I learned that you can’t go head on with your goals day-in and day-out without a break. You can work on your discipline as much as you want but at some point, you need a break. As Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” So, I’m planning to keep my discipline and continue working to improve it but definitely cutting loose every once in a while. There is so much to do outside of the auspices of my normal work and play and I plan to see a lot of it.
Thanks to the injury, I’ve really had to learn the hard way that solutions to big problems don’t come overnight. A lot of work and trial and error has already gone into fixing the problem of my glute muscle imbalance. And it will take a lot more work to get it to where I’m no longer having problems. But to me, this fight is something worth fighting. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life without cycling and so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to correct this issue. It will require more Physical Therapy and a lot of one legged exercise but that comes with the territory.
Finally, my mental health is the number one thing that I’ve been coming to terms with this year. The realization this year is that I need to keep moving forward to my goals in order to maintain sanity. I had to take a lot of side-steps and back steps this year in order to keep moving and that kinda bothered me a lot every time. But the important thing is that I kept moving even when it didn’t seem like it. Mindfulness meditation through the Headspace app really hammered that concept into my mind.