Well, it's been a bit of a tough time for me since the opening rounds in South America.
On returning to New Zealand I didn’t have the "go" I usually do. I was plagued with low energy and multiple days of head cold symptoms. I didn't know what was going on really but I knew something must be up so I went to my doctor and they found I had glandular fever (GF).
Since sharing my diagnosis, I've had a lot of people contact me with their GF stories and what they did to recover from it. I also heard the stories from some of how it turned into chronic fatigue and that can take years to get rid of. Thank you for sharing all your messages, support, suggestions and experiences.
My doctor’s suggestion was to hang up the bike...
I had to rest until my liver function started showing normal results (monitored via weekly blood tests). Once I finally got a normal reading it was a further 6 weeks taking it easy, then I could return to full training and then plan for racing again.
When you’re used to training every day and have put hours of time and energy into something you love, it’s a bitter pill to swallow to be told to stay off the bike and rest. What I found worse was watching my fitness wasting away day by day.
It's not as though I had a broken bone, which was stopping me from riding but an illness that wasn’t visible.
During the down time it was really tough for me mentally. It was a daily challenge trying to keep my low mood at bay, luckily I had my family around me to keep me busy and my mind active. I spent weeks doing hardly anything, I read plenty of books to pass some of the time and took daily midday naps when the children did. I literally felt as if I had hit a wall, I had no energy at all.
My weekly tests were something I would look forward to. Monday morning in for a blood test and results on Wednesday, I was seeing my liver slowly improve and that got me through to the next week. Each test was a step closer to being back on my bike. Once I got the all clear to train again I started back in the gym and have been able to get some good strength back.
It's been a focus for me to get a little bit stronger than I was at the start of the season, especially in my upper body.
That, in turn, has increased my body weight up a few kg, from this I have already noticed an improved ability to manage the bike in the rough sections. I've spent a bit of time traveling over to Nelson to get some vertical meters of both climbing and descending. It's been a juggle to get back strong, yet not overdo it and blow up.
Thankfully my coach has been keeping a close eye on my training data and morning HRV results and all seems to be tracking well.
As everyone can see from this year’s Enduro World Series results so far, it is no series to attempt if you aren’t at your optimal. One thing I decided early on, was that I wasn't going to return too soon and risk blowing myself up to get back to speed and fitness.
My team Canyon, Adidas Sport Eyewear and all my sponsors have been great in accepting I was going to miss some races. They have been by my side and keen to see me healthy before I returned to the circuit.
On my return to the series, I will be out of any overall ranking. I am returning with a different approach to what I usually would take for the series. Consistency doesn't matter for me this year so it means I can take a few more chances on the stages. It’s really about building back up for next season.
With Whistler now in my sights, I couldn't be more excited to get back.
I've missed the process of racing and the atmosphere, I can't wait to be back in the mix with my friends and especially my team.
See you soon,
Photos Sebastian Schieck / Grant Sterling