During her World Cup Super-G run in Schladming, Austria, Lindsey Vonn’s ski caught in the snow, blowing the inside of her knee to bits (torn ACL, MCL, and fractured tibia). Ten months post-surgery she partially tore her ACL again in a training run. Her hard work to compete in Sochi 2014 came to an end, and she underwent her second surgery in 2014. It was a long, hard road back… And then back again.
Lindsey Vonn’s tenacious spirit and persistence have led her to overcome adversity and become the best female skier in U.S. history. It is no surprise (but beyond impressive) that she was nominated as the comeback athlete of the year, not to mention she just won her 71st World Cup race.
However, it has me wondering, “How did Lindsey go from zero to gold?” I started digging into her story, reading nearly every article, and dissecting her documentary. There are the awesome lessons we all can learn from Lindsey’s impressive comeback.
BE IN CONTROL OF YOURSELF
“I’ve never blamed anyone else, but I think things could be done better going forward.” She decided that she pushed herself too hard in the first 10 months of recovery. She was in charge of her own body and she had to make the call if she was ready or not.
IF YOU WANT IT, YOU HAVE TO WORK HARD
SLOW AND FRUSTRATING
“A lot of athletes have come back but it’s just a slow process.” Plus, taking your time is especially miserable when you are used to going as fast as a cheetah. Lindsey is not exactly into slow. But when you start at ground zero, just trying to get your muscles firing again, slow is all there is, and you should embrace it.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Lindsey talked about her village: Dr. James Andrews and Physical Therapist Lindsay Winninger. Medical Team. Check. Two supportive sisters. Family. Check. U.S. Women’s Ski Team. Teammates. Check. 538,000 followers. Fans. Check.
FOCUS ON GOALS
“I’m just focused on the next goal, you know. I’m trying not to think about the fact that I’m not there (Sochi). I’m just focused on the fact that I will be.” Lindsey always talks about having a goal for her recovery. Her first 10 months was solely focused on Sochi. When she knew she wouldn’t be able to compete in Sochi 2014, she switched gears and her mindset to the next competition. Keep a calendar and timeline to keep yourself moving ahead.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
“Being smarter this time, I eased my way into training: I took my time and listened to my body.” Like every elite athlete, Lindsey knows how to tune out pain and leap over hurdles in her way. Good for competition. Bad for recovery.
“What’s the point in being afraid? I’ve crashed a million times. If you go around being afraid, you’re never going to enjoy life. You have only one chance, so you’ve got to have fun.” Even once your knee is 100%, when you’re back competing, your confidence can trail behind. Your confidence is bigger than just your knee working again. Don’t let fear of failing or of hurting yourself again hold you back from the rewards of a great physical recovery you worked hard for.
You can learn a lot from Lindsey about how to be a true champion, because as she says, “when you fall, you pick yourself up and come back stronger than you were before.“ If you’d like to look through more resources, here’s a list. I really hope this helps you in your road to recovery