Stuff Happens: Tips on Overcoming Setbacks


Turns out, boulders and shoulders don’t mix.

Our resident butt-kicker and 10-time Ironman World Championships Age Group champion Cherie Gruenfeld found that out the hard way during a recent early-morning training ride.

Head down in the aero position, cranking away at 6:30AM, she didn’t see the landscaping boulder that had fallen into the bike path.  Until she hit it.

Let’s just say the boulder won.

The compression plate holding Cherie's clavicle together

A broken clavicle and four broken ribs later, Cherie now finds herself in the position no athlete wants to be in: Evaluating their racing season and asking themselves, “What next?”

As expected, Cherie has some great insight on what to do when things don’t exactly go your way.

It’s a beautiful summer day. My next planned event, the 70.3 (Half Ironman) World Championships, is 6 weeks out. Today my training schedule calls for a 50-mile bike ride followed by an 8-mile run. But instead of “enjoying” that workout, I’m sitting here trying to adjust to my new future. As the old saying goes, “If you want to see God laugh, make a plan.”

Two weeks ago, I crashed while doing a bike ride, breaking my collar bone and several ribs. Clearly the 70.3 Championships are off. If you’d like to see the experience through the eyes of my husband, who has done his time living with an injured athlete, check it out here.

Coming back from this is now my new personal challenge and what it will take differs very little from what it takes to bounce back from any setback, be it athletic or otherwise. I thought I’d share a few tips with you that are helping me overcome my setback:

  • Don’t waste time questioning why it happened. It did – now get on with it.
  • Set new goals. We all make more progress when there’s something out there we’re working towards.
  • Readjust your thinking so that all actions are in line with the new reality.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There may be others who’ve gone before you and can help pave the way.

Sudden, unwanted change is never easy. But it’s a fact of life. You don’t need to embrace it, but you do need to deal with it.

My new goal is to be ready to race in the Ironman World Championships on October 8th.

Right now my training is doing short walks and gently spinning on my bike trainer.

Not what I had planned, but, for now, this is my new reality.

Please join us in wishing Cherie a full and speedy recovery!

About Dawn

Dawn is one of the rarest breeds of Southern Californians — a native. She has nearly 20 years of experience marketing technology, which means she's a nerd at heart (and we say that in the most loving way possible). When not at her day job as CMO of Boingo, Dawn spends time in a never-ending quest for the perfect margarita. (Rocks/salt, natch.)
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