Injuries and Chanelling my Inner Penny Oleksiak

About a month has passed since I left Park City, and a lot has happened since then. Frozen Thunder is open, the days are getting shorter, the race season is getting closer, and I’m now spending a lot of time in swimming pools… But first, let’s go back a month.

After the camp, it was time for a hard-earned rest week, so I went straight home to Athabasca for thanksgiving and was able to spend a few days there with my family. I love going home because it means that I get to spend lots of time with my parents, my younger sister, Anna, and our two farm dogs Fred and George.


Morning run with Fred and George.


Kayak with Patrick.

Something about going home and spending time on the farm is so peaceful and relaxing, it makes Athabasca the perfect place to go for a rest week!


Testing out the hunting rifles.

When I got back to Canmore, everyone was getting ready for Frozen Thunder to open. One of the best things about living in Canmore is having access to early season skiing, which can be great for technique work and race prep! While we were waiting to get on snow, I was able to get in some solid testing on our rollerski treadmill and work on technique touch-ups with our technique coach, Kathy Davies.

Before I knew it, Frozen Thunder was rolled out and we were skiing! Within the first few days I was able to get in some good speed workouts and a solid skate interval session. Although I learn to mostly like rollerskiing every summer, it doesn’t compare to real skiing. Skiing on real snow always makes me so happy and is such a good reminder of why I keep pursuing this sport.


Afternoon run with my cousin Fiona.

My teammates and I also got to help out with a Train 2 Train session with the Canmore Nordic Ski Club, where we got to help lead a bunch of young skiers through a circuit strength workout. I love circuit strength (especially when it’s on a playground), so I was more than happy to join in. It was so much fun to see how happy and excited the kids were about skiing!


Dahria and I leading the kids through some running drills.

Unfortunately, a couple of days after Frozen Thunder opened (just over two weeks ago), I woke up to a very swollen and sore left foot. After quickly making some appointments with doctors and physiotherapists, I was told that I had bruised the bones under the ball of my left big toe and had developed sesamoiditis. Recovery priority #1: stay off my foot until the swelling goes down and the bones heal. This meant that I had to miss the pre-season races on Frozen Thunder and jump into the swimming pool instead. Luckily, I was still able to go out and cheer on my teammates in the classic sprint race!

Injuries are something that every athlete deals with at some point in their career; for me, it looks like one of those points is now. While injuries are frustrating and it is very tempting to rush back into regular training, I’m trying to focus on proper long-term recovery so that this doesn’t become a problem for the rest of my ski career. Luckily, I have a great group of coaches and support staff who have been giving me lots of encouragement and advice, and are helping me make smart decisions about recovery.


Busting out the old swim gear!

For now, this means that I’m modifying my training and have switched to swimming, biking, upper body strength, core, and using the Erg machine until my foot heals fully (which could take anywhere from 1 more week to one more month). Luckily, I used to compete in triathlons in the spring and summer until I was around 14 years old, and although I am by no means a fast swimmer, I’ve been able to get in some solid pool intervals right away without having to learn basic swimming technique.

Swimming can be boring, but fortunately our Canadian women’s swim team left me pretty inspired after the Rio Olympics. Even though they’re at least twice as fast as me, I can pretend that I’m gliding along as fast as Penny Oleksiak and Michael Phelps. We’re supposed to dream big, right? At the very least, I’m looking forward to seeing the positive effects of swimming and Erg training on my double pole power and upper body strength.


Testing out an arms-only Erg setup. 

I was scheduled to leave for Europe next week to prepare for the first World Cup race of the season, which is November 26th. However, since my priority at the moment is getting my body healthy again, the trip has been put on hold until I am injury-free. While this is obviously very disappointing, I’ll be cheering hard for my teammates and eagerly waiting to put on spandex and get out there with them! Until then, I’ll keep focusing on healing my foot and channeling my inner Penny Oleksiak 😉


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