Caroline Buchanan's Return

Monday, September 30, 2019
Photo: @vibe.imagery
It's amazing to see where you were and where you're at now, and so I wanted to explore with you this return to working out and biking again after that life-threatening injury. So when was the official date where you were given the clear to train again, and what was the first thing you did when the doctor gave you the green light?

I was first cleared at 7 months post sternum surgery operation in July 2019, at this stage I was cleared to start progressing my strength and posture in the gym as I had had no load through upper body/spine for 7 months. I was cleared with full clearance 9 months post-surgery at the end of August for BMX/ MTB and riding motorbikes again. Basically with a final CT scan to check the bones healing I was cleared to be able to not only train, ride and race but more importantly in the surgeons and doctors eyes “cleared to crash again” and be ok.



When I take a week or two off from working out, getting back in the gym can be pretty tough. Things that used to be easy, now feel heavier than usual, and it can feel discouraging. For you, what workouts felt surprisingly tough, what was still easy and what percentage would you say you're at now since working out again?

I hear you on this. It was the most frustrating experience to not be able to do one proper push up or one chin up. The % of the strength that I had to gain back was 90% of my strength. I had to start at 6 days a week in the gym starting on the bare foundations and smallest movements. Starting from the bottom, and a 4-month solid plan to be back on 2 wheels and be strong enough to crash again if that happened.



Some people say the funnest time you have on a bike is when you start for the first time because it's new and fresh. Did the return feel that way or did it feel frustrating?

100% it was so refreshing and rewarding. It reminded me of the 5-year-old girl that fell in love with riding bikes and why I never want to be off 2 wheels again. Passion never dies!

I really like that you're using a focus board, what is on yours and how has it helped you in your recovery? I’ve also had similar boards in the past but always had a hard time following it 100% of the time lol.

I have had progressions of my board and what works for me. Some simple 5 “Slay 5 tasks" each week holds me accountable to those 5 adulting / have to get done tasks. I have the motivation "Slay the Day” to stay in the moment have gratitude for where I am at and the focus and goals coming. I like to keep my daily training in front of me to see when I wake up and go to sleep. My 2019 & 2020 goals and also a content plan to keep on track with sponsors and commitments and stay organized. The board is a large piece of black plastic from Walmart bolted to my wall with white chalk whiteboard markets, white tape and rulers to keep my OCD happy.



You stayed amazingly lean during your recovery, I think for most people it would be easy to become a couch potato and gain a few kilos given what you went through, what's the secret in staying active when you're not 100%?

While I was injured the 1 thing I could control was what went into my mouth. I was at the mercy of time healing bones, medical complications and doctors advice/mistakes. So for me, I knew if I could have equal calories in as I was putting out each day, I would maintain good health and not put on weight -  it's that simple. I only ate clean and enough and was very aware I was not exercising.

Being that you’re set up with Fresh N Lean, could we ask you to give us your Fresh N Lean pitch, and may we ask what plan you’re currently on?

I am all about my bachelorette pad fridge at the moment. It's not that fun cooking for 1 or when your training and riding and fatigued. That's when it's easy to slip and be tempted by quick and easy calorie-dense food. With Fresh N Lean it's all dairy-free, gluten-free which I stick to with all meals. It's cooked, and vacuum-sealed and sent to my door on #FuelFridays. I love it for staying accountable and having nutrient-dense healthy and calculated out meals. I am on an 8 meal “Performance Protein+” + 4 “Low Carb Paleo meals” a week lunch and dinners. I keep the lower-carb paleo options for days I am not training. Sundays are my cheat days and meals out.



I saw on your recent post that there's some BMX and Dual Slalom practice happening, is there a date set yet for your first BMX race back, and where does Freestyle BMX sit with the plans right now?

There sure is a first BMX race insights and that is the 10th of October, our official BMX racing Olympic test event in Tokyo. Freestyle for me will transition back into my plan and goals after Olympics on the freestyle MTB side of events.

How was your first Dual Slalom race? Mindset going in and how was the outcome?

I finished up in 5th, I was so happy I had the first race jitters for sure and was nervous naturally not being in the gate for a year. My starts and top half jump and berm speed were strong but my lack of bike time and tentative first event back flat turns was where I knew I would need to work on for future races. It feels at home to be back.

Photo @paulolmedophoto
Lastly, any general advice or wisdom for someone who is just starting their road back to recovery?

Be your own doctor, get 2nd and 3rd opinions on everything for your own safety. To get CT scans & MRI scans even if doctors say you don’t need them. Get blood tests to know whats going on inside your body…what are you lacking or what are you intolerant to, what does your body not like, have the tests, get the answers and stay accountable to that. I would say be patient and don’t rush things. To focus on what you can control like your mental health, your work, friendships, the fuel you're putting in your body and focus on self-help, podcasts, and audiobooks. Injuries, adversity, and setbacks are simply life giving you a slow down to take off to the next success… Capitalize on the opportunity :)

Photo: @paulolmedophoto

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