The First Two Weeks With a Broken Ankle

My two week update after a broken ankle

Unfortunately, I crashed my bike and broke my ankle a bit over two weeks ago.  My primary objective for 2016 is to win a full Ironman; a goal I will maintain this season.

Staying Focused on the goal through injurygingerbread broken ankle

I am really fortunate to have Dr. Brent Weatherhead as my orthopedic surgeon.  He is an amazing technical surgeon and did an outstanding job to get my fractured ankle anatomically perfect so now we have a realistic plan and schedule to get me back to running full gas this season.

I know a LOT of pro triathletes who have dealt with and are dealing with injury – so my story is not unique.  Triathletes and runners have different experiences with a broken ankle.  If you found this post searching “exercises you can do with a broken ankle” and “triathlon training after a broken ankle” you are in the same mindset I was in the first two weeks after my crash.  I promise you that it gets better after the first two weeks.  I am posting these recovery updates to help educate you through MY experience and inspire you with what I found helpful and motivating.  It is important to stay positive and focused during your recovery so let’s start with things you can do.

Here are THREE WAYS YOU CAN IMMEDIATELY IMPROVE AS AN ATHLETE with a broken ankle or leg injury 

Create new eating habits

Have you ever wondered if your core diet regime is optimized outside of training? Now is the time to find out.  Sugar, alcohol, and unhealthy food all delay healing.  In addition, Advil works against bone healing so feed and allow your body to do its thing.  I am eating lots of vegetables – with a bit of nuts, low fat protein and yogurt.  My appetite is very low, due to stress, moodiness and lack of activity, but the food that I do eat is all constructive. You can use this experience to completely overhaul your basic nutrition as you don’t have the ravenous starvation of hard workouts to cloud your judgement.  Don’t drown your sorrows in chocolate and crisps.  You can reduce your need for an Alter-G treadmill by not turning into Fat Bastard on the couch.

adopt healthy eating habits when injured

Visualize returning to competition

My friend Simon Whitfield  reminded me of this and it was a much needed kick in the pants about MINDSET.  Spending this downtime feeling glum and negative is not constructive in any way.  I will admit the first week I indulged in plenty of pity parties but after you have a good cry (or ten) it is time to get on with it.  Visualizing yourself performing perfect training, winning major events and having a speedy and successful comeback can be.  There are numerous studies that show visualizing can create the same changes as training – it may not provide the same endorphins as training but if it works, why not?



visualize the run form you want to have

I am visualizing myself coming back running more like Dibaba.  Seeing myself swimming, biking and running my way to an Ironman victory is part of training- injured or otherwise!

Address muscle weakness and imbalances

If your doctor thinks it is appropriate there are a lot of exercises you can do with a broken ankle. After years of professional triathlon I am afraid I need work on my posture and while I am at it, why not my hips?  As much as I hate upper body weight lifting (or at least didn’t see any point to anything other than bands for shoulders) now is my opportunity to start to develop my rhomboids/lats for swimming and hips/glutes for running.I have been anxious about maintaining my aerobic fitness and luckily I have a handcycle that rower-turned-triathlete Silken Laumann loaned me.  So far I have been able to do workouts of an hour with my heart rate somewhere in the middle of zone 2.  I am guessing this training will be super useful for Ironman swimming after this.  I can actually start swimming and water running in a couple days so I am going to be back to an almost “normal” schedule very soon.

 address muscle imbalance while injured

Hopefully not TOO much upper body J

You find your true character when it is tested by adversity-it is a great way to find perseverance and empathy.  I already appreciate some of the lessons… and I am sure there are many more to come.

I am very fortunate to have Synergy Health Management on my side through this process.  Two days after surgery I was on some kind of electric bone machine to speed the healing.  I am working with Dr. Jamie Grimes to ensure I have proper healing of the bones and the joint and I have my rehabilitation guided by physiotherapist Katelyn Button.  Katie is not only a great physio but also a professional mountain bike racer and XTERRA athlete, so she understands where I need to get to.

Feel free to comment if you are going through this experience or have gone through it and reach out to my Facebook page as well.  Being positive and feeling supported are your best weapons to get through this.

Thank you very much to my sponsors who are behind me and are as excited to get me back racing as I am to be on the start line.

I will be back in a few months and in the meantime I look forward to seeing you guys at my shop visits in Evansville and Louisville in May, my training camp with Jasper Blake in June and my junior camp at Challenge St Andrews in July (with racing beginning somewhere in there!)

It is all part of the journey of racing – do everything you can through your recovery without doing harm and you will be better in no time!


3 thoughts on “The First Two Weeks With a Broken Ankle”

  1. Darrin Pattison

    I triple fractured my ankle in May while mountain biking. I am a 56 year old male that has been doing triathlons since the mid 80’s. I don’t do them on the level that you do, but I am usually mid pack or better. I have been in love with tri’s since my first one in 1984 and was feeling sorry for myself (pity party for one). I ran into your blog and I am inspired by your recovery. I have a similar X-ray to yours and now know that getting back to racing is going to happen. I realize it will take hard work and dedication. Thank you for posting your recovery story.

    1. Hi Darrin,

      HOpe you continued to follow! I have had a full recovery… and won my 5th Worlds. Stay at it and you’ll be back as well 🙂

  2. Great article, just fractured my ankle yesterday and still wallowing. Good advice about diet and will get to the gym to improve my swimming. I signed up for Harlech Castle triathlon next April so have something to aim for!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *