Last year was something of an annus horribilis for Cat Morrison. Forced to take a year out from racing with a persistent Achilles injury and a broken collarbone, she also had to deal with the sudden loss of her father at the start of the year. She’s now in rehab following bilateral Achilles surgery and is looking forward to a return to racing in 2013. In this, the first part of a two-part interview, she talks about rehab and her ambitions for the coming year…
220: 2012 was obviously a difficult year for you. Has 2013 started well?
CM: Well, it’s started better! My husband and I have just back from three weeks in Spain. Last year we were in Spain and we had to abort our holiday and come home because my Dad had just been taken ill and had gone into hospital, so it was nice to stay the length of time that we were supposed to. It was nice to be somewhere where all we were doing was being healthy and having exercise; waking up in the morning and thinking: ‘What will we do today? Oh, we’ll go for a bike ride.’
Can your husband keep up with you?
I’m a bit worried actually, because this year has been the first year that I’ve been out on the bike and I haven’t dropped him! I’m hoping that’s a reflection on his increase in fitness and not my decrease [laughs]. In the summer when we were away there was a long-standing joke that I always had a six-minute wait at the top of the climb. When we were in Spain it was only maybe a minute. But then the climbs were a lot shorter so actually, proportionally, I think I might still have the six minutes!
How’s the rehab going?
Really well. I had surgery in October and it’s taken me until now to run for half an hour. I’ve done everything ever so gradually and I’m just planning on continuing that really gradual progression. Everyone wants to be in a hurry but I think that’s the one thing I’ve learned over the last few years – there’s no point in rushing, especially where your health is concerned.
It must be a relief to be running without constant discomfort?
Oh yeah, and being able to get up and walk around the house without being like an old lady for the first hour of the day.
Are you getting into a stricter training regime now?
I’m continuing with rehab and now that I’ve had a chance to get some basic fitness behind me I feel like now I’m ready to start providing some structure to the training, to do some intensity, especially on the bike. Swimming’s a bit of a grey area because I broke my clavicle in August falling off the bike. The doctors thought it would heal naturally but it actually hasn’t, it’s still broken. Because I’d had the surgery on my Achilles I’d been out of the water, so I couldn’t actually tell if it was good or bad.
I’m back up to swimming around about four times a week now and it’s just achey. So I think I might just have to live with an ache. The alternative obviously is to have surgery, but I think that the rehab and the pain potential – the discomfort caused by the surgery – might actually be worse than the pain I’m experiencing now.
What’s your race schedule looking like for 2013?
It’s kind of early, but I would like to race 70.3 St Croix. Though I’m putting ‘race’ in the loosest of terms [laughs]. I’d like to appear on the start line. Everyone wants a goal, and it’s a nice emotional goal to go back to because I love that race I and I know I’ll go there and I’ll see the people that I love. It’d just be a great way to start.
What’s your aim there?
Well, you know, everyone likes to say: ‘Oh I’d just like to ease myself back in,’ but I’m my own worst bloody enemy – of course I want to go and win! It’s hard to not go and try to win a race that you’ve won for the last – well I didn’t win it last year obviously because I couldn’t go – but I’ve won it for the last three years.
In part two, posted next Monday, Cat talks unfinished business, Chrissie Wellington and her quest to take things slowly…