It's a familiar story: you return to training after injury aiming to be faster and stronger than before.
Then reality kicks in as your decreased fitness becomes apparent. You begin to wonder if you'll ever be able to repeat your pre-injury performances and the fear that the injury will return begins to gnaw at you. It doesn't have to be that way. Many athletes come back stronger than ever after an enforced layoff - and if you follow this advice, you could be one of them.
Plan to keep it real
Write down your goals. For example, you may aim to train for six half-hour sessions a week in your first month back after injury. Your plan should depend on your existing fitness level and the workload you think you can maintain. It should go without saying that the longer your time off, the more gradual your comeback should be. Build your confidence by achieving success with small steps.
It may take several months to rebuild your aerobic base. Take care as you gradually increase the distance and intensity of your training sessions. It's tempting to test yourself at club or group sessions, or on routes that you've breezed through in the past, so control your effort by using a heart-rate monitor. This is not the time to be pushing the big gears or running hills - stay in the small chain ring and ride at a cadence of at least 90 revolutions per minute, and run on relatively even ground.
There will be moments of doubt as you start to test the upper limits of your threshold, but you have to believe that you will achieve your goals, despite any reservations or setbacks you may suffer.
Give yourself a hand
Celebrate short- and long-term milestones. Document your distances and times, and you'll see how far you've come.