8 months ago, Kat was hit by a car whilst on a training ride in Texas, USA. She was riding around 22mph when a car travelling in the opposite direction turned across her into a driveway, causing her to smash headlong into it. It broke the thickest part of the skull bone just above the neck, two of the vertebrae in her thoracic spine, and her sternum.
And yet here we are, 8 months later and she's already back training and racing. Kat is an exceptionally talented, utterly determined athlete - and also a really lovely person. She is such an inspiration and we really appreciate her taking the time to share the below x
Kat, how are you doing right now?
I'm good! I feel I am making real progress in my later (hopefully end) healing phase of the crash (Sept 22) injuries. Training is starting to be able to be more intensive and I am able to tolerate it again.
What has the last few months been like for you?
I wanted/needed to race in April to establish myself in the Professional field again after the crash and that went well, better than expected really! I have decided to break the year into 3 main racing phases; April: "pre season"/recovery, August: middle distance triathlon, October: Ironman World Champs. This allows me to have this time now (these last weeks/months) to get stuck into a solid training routine.
It's been a year since your accident, and you look to have made an incredible recovery. Were there any specific strategies or techniques that helped you maintain your motivation and fitness during the recovery?
I found the task of studying about the injuries and the psychology of injuries/trauma really fascinating and it also gave me better understanding of the timeframes. Allowing me the mental space or justification that it was "ok" to need time. That healing just takes time.
I adapted my normal training to very small things/goals. eg. a 30min walk, 2hrs in bed in the afternoon, 9hrs of sleep, enough protein and calcium etc.
I took a lot of focus and support from everyone around me telling me I would be fine. The emotional support from my closest was the ultimate "strategy"!
Do you have any advice to give those who are currently dealing with or recovering from an injury?
Take time to understand your own unique situation. There are so many pieces of the puzzle to healing and you have a lot of control over so many of these. For example, sleep, nutrition, mental health/stress levels. The final piece is the rehab/training. Put yourself in the best position you can for your body to cope with healing and adapt to any rehab.
How has the last year changed your perspective on your sport and your approach to training and competing?
There a quite often days when I think "You can: so, do". I think this is now not just for the hard run session but for any life situation. It could be a bit of a see-saw with racing. I could say; Well what's the point? It's just sport.... or I can say; Why not? You might not get another chance. I choose the Why not/Do your best whilst you can approach, which fits better for me.
Are there any specific goals or milestones you've set for yourself now that you're back in competition?
It remains the same for this season. Win the World Ironman Championships. Be the best in the World on the day everyone tries to be the best in the World.
Is there anything you always take with you to a race?
Yes, so many things! The list is endless... but outside of the essentials I need, my favourite tea bags are a must (decaf earl grey).
Right, now for some fun questions :) Favourite meal?
Burger, Pizza, Steak and Ale (shortcrust) Pie, Lasagne.... depends on my mood!
Favourite TV show right now?
Tour de France Unnchained
Do you prefer training alone or with others?
Some of both. Training with others is way more fun. It provides so much more enjoyment but I also happily train by myself. Specifically with running, training alone allows me to make sure I hit the prescribed intensity rather than adapting to someone else that day (and perhaps not getting as much benefit).
What's your race fuel of choice?
I do not really have a choice. For Professional triathlon, gels (or sugar+water) is the only way. It works best and is easy to transport.
Any pre-race rituals?
Nope. I think flexibility is pretty key. I have an ideal sort of timeframe for the day before with regards to training and relaxing but you have to adapt to the race preparation/details so being too prescribed just adds stress.
Any post race recovery rituals?
Nope. Again, no rituals (generally in life). I think it is mainly psychology and after every race I have a different mindset/ feeling of what I want. 1-3hrs in Antidoping (waiting to do a urine test) gives you a good idea of what you want to do first! Normally for me it's a shower, a nap and then food! I think moving (in any form) the next day is good for the body, it reassures the body and mind that it does not need to "shut down" and recover drastically. I would swim or cycle for 30min if I was able. I would not be able to run for 4-5 days normally (muscles are too sore and at risk of injury).
And finally we have to ask what is your favourite Pretty Athletic product?
The Sweatproof Neutralising Hydration Gel is currently my most used, but my favourite is the Invigorating Shower Scrub. After the accident, I could not get my stitches and wounds wet for a while (just light water cleanse). ALL I was craving for over a month was the sensation of using the Scrub and the feeling afterwards!!
Thank you so much Kat. We are so inspired and excited to see what you can do x
For more, follow Kat at https://www.instagram.com/katr_matthews/?hl=en