4 years on from Achilles Tendon Rupture – My Recovery Lessons for Lockdown

Hey guys, at the weekend Instagram reminded me that I ruptured my Achilles four years ago. (Thanks, Insta…)

Anyway, that got me thinking, along with other questions that I received following sharing the post – how did I recover so well? What got me through the other side? How am I doing now?

So here’s a response to some of those questions.

Firstly, I wholeheartedly believed the best is yet to come.

I didn’t mean that my best would come in athletics, obviously because I was so so retired; I was 100% done with the sport – or so I thought.

Post: An Achilles Tendon Rupture and My Retirement

But I think that declaring that statement – The Best Is Yet To Come – over my life again and again and again, shifted something for me on so many levels.

Posts: The Power of Affirmations

I’m a new person now. My life between 2012 to 2016 was so sad, I can’t even explain.

There were moments of joy, for sure.

I went to Phoenix and after two months there returned British Indoor Champion with a shiny new indoor PB (6.73m).

But then…two weeks after that I tore my hamstring and missed out on the Euro Indoors in Prague that year.

Bad luck, you think. Well, trust me, that was commonplace for me. A door would open, joy would jump out and then…BOOM. Chaos. Setback. Failure.

I am not even asking for pity. I’m just explaining what led to my retirement. The achilles injury meant a third surgery and in an Olympic year, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But, I believed for better things. And I eventually saw what I believed. I guess that’s what you call faith.

Specifically, I want to list a few things and people I’ve met on my journey since 2016, all of whom and which wouldn’t have entered my life if not for the Achilles tendon rupture. And that ensured my comeback was a fun and healthy one…and so much better than pre-retirement!

I may not have known or developed these beautiful friendships without the achilles rupture! Disclaimer: Photo taken pre-lockdown, circa June 2017

I now run a business – Manchester Tutors. In these times, we are facing challenges just like many other small businesses, but I’ve learned the beauty of perseverance with a smile.

If my achilles tendon hadn’t ruptured, I doubt I’d be providing work for tutors in Manchester and I certainly wouldn’t be working with the sports academies, colleges and schools that I’m working with today. These were all unexpected wins that came out of one of my life’s biggest failures…all because when I returned from America – broken and disappointed – I was also broke! Lol. And I needed a job. But I couldn’t get a proper one because my heart wasn’t in the search. So I tutored (which I’d been doing since 2007, but haphazardly and few hours because…athletics). And a year later, Manchester Tutors happened !

What else…

I travelled to Marbella (with my boot and crutches … funny story!) And met Aimee, who I’m now great friends with and who connected me to Vicky at the Female Coaching Network aka FCN, an organisation I’m invested in the success of.

Post: Check out my video-interview with the FCN in Sept 2019

I am now grateful for every single competitive experience I have – the good and the bad. And I make the most of travelling to these locations – seeing more than just the hotel room, dining hall and stadium.

I often stay for an extra day after the competition to be a tourist.

My travel adventures have been fun, spontaneous and probably wouldn’t have happened with such vigour if not for the reset that occurred after my Achilles rupture.

I even travelled to Rome and created a vlog!

My strongest friendships were revealed. My ex-training partner Fabrice visited me in Manchester a couple of times whilst I was retired. What a legend. And Anni opened her home to me in Barcelona when I needed to get away again. I just value people so much more now because through their demonstrations of what friendship is, I am hopefully becoming more of a better friend to them and others too.

What else? I guess I’m mixing up what I’ve learned and what the “best” to come was, but I’m trying to give you my unedited thoughts on this achilles tendon drama – the positive testimony that resulted from one of the most heartbreaking experiences in my life.

I guess one positive was/is being able to encourage, inspire and equip others taking my same or similar journey of recovery from an achilles tendon rupture.

Resource: Achilles Tendon Recovery Program

It’s amazing to read the comments on my YouTube videos and the messages from people who are inspired in their rehab and encouraged by the fact I was able to recover so they can too.

People often see an Achilles tendon injury as career-ending, but it doesn’t have to be. And even if does end your career for a time (me = case in point), it doesn’t have to be forever if you don’t want it to be.

2 years on from my achilles tendon rupture…Clean PB!

Another immensely unexpected “best” has been my 2019 season – finishing 7th at the European Indoors and World Athletics Championships in Doha. Winning the British Champs and jumping a PB finally after 7 years! Plus…an Olympic standard!

The Best…Is Here!

But most importantly for the here and now with COVID-19 lockdowns in place, I feel so much more at peace with the situation than one might expect.

After dealing with bizarre stress symptoms – binge eating and then TMJ induced toothache and headache – I am now going well. I’m motivated and enjoying this pace of life. Because I’ve been here before – unable to train properly, adapting sessions.

I am not minimising this terrible time at all. I know the numbers – tens of thousands of deaths. I have no words for the sadness we are all feeling and I am so sorry for those who have suffered direct loss of loved ones because of this.

So what am I saying then? Well, I know the adversities I’ve faced in the past have well-prepared me for today’s lockdown. Like, the Olympics has been postponed? That sucks. But I’ve missed the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games when I believed I should have been at both…but for….X Y Z. So what’s another year in the grand scheme of things?

I can’t train at a track? Huh. Okay, I guess this is like my retirement when I didn’t see a track for a while. What did I do then? Cycling. Gymnastics. Running. YouTube workouts.

And obviously I know I’m in a blessed situation – with some gym equipment (thanks Nick!), but things are far from perfect. I’ve been there, I’ve suffered hard seasons, but what got me through was this – knowing the best is yet to come.

Finally and MOST importantly to me, my family and friends are healthy.

So if you and yours are healthy, if you make it through today and tomorrow, keep believing that your best is yet to come too.

I can’t wait to hear what you learn in this season and what gift comes out of this crazy season for you.

To all who mourn…he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

Isaiah 61:3 NLT

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