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Fri 19th Aug 2022
From hospital to Ironman: Part 1
Posted by: Simon Ward
Posted on: Wednesday 27th April 2016

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When a broken collar bone and fractured ribs stops you... how do you prepare for Ironman?

When Simon Ward ( went out for a fairly standard bike ride in late December, the plan definitely wasn't to hit the tarmac - hard - and end up on Leeds General Infirmary with a list of broken and fractured bones. With Ironman Austria on his schedule for 2016, how should you approach getting back to health and fitness... and finishing an Ironman?

This is part one of Simon's road to Klagenfurt on Sunday 26th June 2016.


Descending at 40km/h is normal, maybe even a bit slow when you live where I do. I'm comfortable with descending at over 80km/h (I think my fastest ever recorded was 91km/h, in Lanzarote, with a  tailwind).

That's why hitting the deck at 42km/h came as a bit of a shock.

I'd ridden over much worse road surfaces many times that day but this little bump or whatever it was came as a complete surprise. Anyway, the upshot of the hard landing at 42.4km/h was painful and required an overnight stop in Leeds General Infirmary. I knew straight away that it wasn't good and I even thought I'd shattered my shoulder blade, but thats wasn't the case. My first trip to the fracture clinic two days later confirmed the bad news.

Diagnosis - One displacement fracture of my collar bone - basically it was in four pieces - plus one broken and four cracked ribs.
Long term verdict - probably four months without swimming and touch-and-go whether I would be fit enough to do Ironman Austria in June.

OK, so hands up (not your bad one…obviously!), if you've broken your collar bone or dislocated your shoulder? You'll testify that it hurts, all the time and rehab is long and painful.

A lot of people have asked me how I stayed motivated during the months off training.

Gotta Have Goals

  1. Sleep in a bed not reclining chair
  2. Walk 5000 steps each day
  3. Climb the stairs 20 times each day
  4. Start back on my indoor bike
  5. Get back into the pool and start kick sets
  6. Be able to lift my arm on its own
  7. Lift my arm over head
  8. Swim a couple of strokes freestyle
  9. Swim 50m freestyle
  10. Swim a full session
  11. Start running again
  12. Ride outdoors again
  13. Complete a full week of training
  14. Start lifting weights again with my right arm
  15. Get back to my previous fitness level

To be honest I didn't find it that difficult.

We all have goals for triathlon and the major goals have stepping stones towards them. Recovering from injury is no different. Just reset the goals from fitness gains to recovery indicators. I'm now chasing goal #15 and whilst its taken me almost five months to get there it's kept me sane and focussed since Christmas.

You can see my new goals below

New Ironman Austria Goals

  1. Finish the race
  2. Finish having completed each leg without any pain (shoulder, calf or Achilles)
  3. Get comfortable with my new run/walk strategy for 2017
  4. Have a great day out
  5. Cross the line in under 14 hours

As I write this there are nine weeks to go until Ironman Austria 2016.

As part of the Ironman Legacy requirement for 2017, I only have to finish this event so I have reset these goals as well.

I'm sure that many of you have been in similar situations. Training has been disrupted by injury, illness or ‘life' issues and you have a short period of time to get ready for an event you can't change . What to do?


  1. Overload the training plan, run the risk of injury and keep your fingers crossed
  2. Get upset by the fact that training is behind and that you wont hit your goals and go into “sod it” mode
  3. Accept that your goals will have to change and then follow a sensible plan to race day doing everything in your power to be as fit as possible by the time you stand on the start line.

This (#3), is the approach I'm taking and in the next post I'll explain how I'm going to do it.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to share, like or comment. If you have any questions please write them in the comments section below.

Simon Ward About the Author

Simon Ward is the founder of, the most experienced group of coaches in the UK. You can contact him on 08700 418131, by e-mailing [email protected] or by visiting

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