Another year gone by & lessons learnt!

April has started and another ski season has gone by already! This has certainly been a rollercoaster year for me, and I’ve learnt many important lessons that I can take forward in the years to come.

Usually, the ski season finishes at the end of March, but for me it ended at mid-February. Although I had a disappointing race at U23 World Championships, finishing 32nd, my year ended on a high note with a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at Eastern Canadian Championships.

After Easterns, I came back to Canmore hoping to get in a training block before racing World Cup Finals in Quebec City. Unfortunately, I realized pretty quickly that my foot, which had been injured since November, wasn’t going to hold up to the training load. After some tough conversations with coaches and doctors’ appointments, I calmly reluctantly decided to end the season and go into full rehab mode.

Sunny day at home with the dogs after Easterns.

Although I had been diagnosed with bipartite sesamoiditis in November, I decided to get an MRI on my foot to rule out the possibility of a fracture. In an unfortunate turn of events, the results indicated that I had a chronic non-union fracture in my medial sesamoid, as opposed to bipartite sesamoiditis.

In hindsight, I really wish I had known in November that I was dealing with a fractured foot, because I would have taken more than 1 month off at the start of the season. However, I’m confident I made the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time.

Trying to be efficient with my time: homework and stationary bike combo.

The past few weeks have been a flurry of doctor’s appointments, treatment, and doing a lot of sesamoid-related research. I’ve been in a walking boot for over 5 weeks now, and unfortunately the fracture has shown no signs of healing (sesamoid in the feet are notorious for not healing well). After being advised that the fracture is unlikely to ever heal, I’ve decided to proceed with a sesamoidectomy– removal of the sesamoid bone. Barring any complications, the recovery time is about 3 weeks until I can get back to swimming and start easing into weight-bearing. From there, it will likely be another few months until I’m back to full-on running and roller skiing, putting me somewhere in July or August.

To be honest, being injured sucks. It’s hard to watch my friends and competitors race the end of the season and to not be there racing with them. Going to the pool or hopping on a stationary bike when it is a beautiful day outside sometimes feels like the last thing I want to do. It’s frustrating not being able to take advantage of the amazing spring skiing Canmore has this time of year, and I miss being able to pop on a pair of shoes and go for a morning run.

However, this year has taught me far more than a perfect year of training and racing ever would have, and I know that it will make me a better athlete going forward. It’s forced me to take a step back and gain some perspective on life, and not being able to ski as much has made me really appreciate how much I love my sport. Some of the big lessons I’m learning are:

  1. The importance of patience: Having not had much experience with injuries prior to this year, a lesson that I am slowly learning is how to be patient. Trying to rush things generally won’t give you the result you are looking for.
  1. When it comes to injuries, less is usually more: With training, I usually try and push the limit quite a bit. After some good reality checks (thanks Patrick!), I’m learning that that strategy is not particularly conducive to injury rehabilitation.
  1. How to trust myself: Whether I’m dealing with conflicting medical advice or whether or not to do that last interval in an intensity session, I’m learning the importance of trusting myself. My teammate Olivia, who has also been dealing with injuries, has set a great example of trusting and having confidence in herself, and I’m trying to do the same.
  1. How to train alone and stay motivated: Although I used to train alone quite a bit when I lived in Athabasca, since I moved to Canmore I’ve been lucky to have some amazing training partners. This winter, I’ve been spending a lot of solo time in the pool, in the gym, and on the bike. This has really helped me rediscover how to stay motivated during solo intensity sessions and have a great time training alone (hint: listening to podcasts or music helps!). Since I’ll be in rehab mode and doing modified training this spring, I’m excited to head into a new training year with the confidence that I can put in great quality training alone.

 

Working on my double pole on the Ski-Erg.

The great thing about having a disappointing season is that I am more determined than ever to come back stronger and faster than before. After watching the inspiring performances of our Canadian women’s team this year, I can’t wait to get back on skis and work with these women to push our team to the next level!

Chocolate cake time with Emma and Sarah the birthday girl!

The races this season and getting on the track to recovery would not have been possible without the wonderful group of people I have supporting me.

First, a HUGE thank you goes to my coaches and to the national team support staff. From doing swim workouts with me, to watching my Ski-Erg technique, to coming to doctor’s appointments with me, I could not have done this without you.

Next thank you to my amazing sponsors (https://mayamacisaacjones.com/sponsorship-support/) for supporting me this season for giving me the chance to pursue my dreams. Your belief in me means a lot, and I wouldn’t be here today without your help.

Finally, thank you to my family, friends, boyfriend, and teammates for pushing me to be the best athlete and person I can be. Whether it’s through encouraging me to have confidence in myself, having the tough conversations when they are needed, or answering those late night phone calls, I am lucky to have all of you by my side.

I’m excited to be moving forward with recovery and am ready to face the challenges as they come. As Kikkan Randall (US Ski Team member and multiple World Championship medalist) put it, “To me, strength is pushing through challenge. When your body or mind is tested, you don’t back down, you face the obstacle head on”.


Stationary biking on the deck!


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