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How walking 500km healed my wrist pain

The alarm went at 5.30am. I leapt out of bed before my brain had a chance to engage in the stupidity of the time and I met my cycling buddies for what was to be an exhilarating morning’s cycle in the sweaty, jungly beauty of Singapore. I’d not been cycling for long, but like so many people during the trials of our Covid-19 lockdowns I craved escape, solitude and a feeling of freedom you can only get from cruising at speed in the open-air. So road cycling was a fairly new passion and I was loving it.

Cycling injury
Not the wrist but other byproduct of cleat-use!

1 hour in and the traffic was building up. I hopped along in my bike cleats, feeling happy and confident. Until that moment when I unceremoniously toppled over and couldn’t release my foot. I hit the curb with my hand and felt instant pain. I’m a bit of a “denier” when it comes to injury but it just so happened that I had dislocated my wrist and fractured my radius (lower arm) bone. It was quite bad.

So now what?

I have never broken a bone before, so hooked up in the hospital my mind was spinning. I use my hands for my work, what the Hell was I going to do? How long was it going to take to heal? How could I sit on my a*se and not train? The lovely doctors fixed me up but said it’s going to be “a few weeks before you do anything”. (A quick Google told me at least 6 weeks in a cast!).

Finding a new way

Fractured wrist and splint
Post hospital fracture reset

This was such a huge blow - I love running, cycling, weight training - and with a list of clients waiting for my hands to help them, I felt pretty depressed about how I would be letting everyone down and worried about my mental health in the meantime.

But there is always a way. I realised what I needed to do was to achieve something during this 5-6 week period, not just fritter it away. I needed to manage the time I had, to focus on something and to come out the other side having flipped this mini-disaster on its head. And I could still use my legs.

The 500km Challenge

So I got walking. My goal was to walk 500km in the time it takes to get my arm free. That’s 100km per week and at least 15km every single day. At first it doesn’t seem that bad, right? People run ultra-marathons in 24 hours, I’ve got 5 weeks! The key to this challenge is mental toughness, consistency, never losing sight of your goal and motivation.

Every day I targeted a new path, some days 7km some more like 22km. I explored all of Singapore’s green walkways, flyovers, jungle paths and hidden gems. Encountering tropical storms, searing heat and numerous monkeys and snakes along the way. I’ve discovered new podcasts and made life-affirming decisions during these treks that I would never have made sat on my bum in front of a laptop.

And without doubt one of the most delightful parts has been my reconnections with friends who have volunteered to join me along the way. There is nothing more wonderful than spending 1:1 time putting the world to rights, while you clock up some great outdoor exercise.

Halfway to 500km walk
250 out of 500km mark hit - half way!

Time flies when you’re motivated

Honestly it went so much quicker than I expected because I was focused not on my own injury and healing time, but on how good I felt, where and what I’d see next, how I could get a 3 hour long walk into my busy schedule, how I could use this time to better myself.

Yes it was long and tiring and I hit several walls of “ugh, I can’t be bothered today” but keep your goal in mind and chip away bit by bit. Your mental health is one of your strongest assets.

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Make it happen.

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