Record-breaking Ironman Ali Day has opened up on the lessons he has learnt during his recovery from a devastating recent accident where he broke both his wrists. The freak incident, which happened while Ali was doing a promotional photoshoot for Surf Life Saving Australia, saw him undergo surgery to both arms with twenty-two plates and screws inserted through his hands and wrists.
Speaking to us recently after his first pool swim following eight weeks of recovery, Ali talked about the challenges learning to swim again and just how the accident has helped him to refocus on priorities and practice the art of patience.
Ali said the enforced time out of competition has made him realise how fortunate he has been to have had so much injury free success up until now. “If this had happened when I was 22, before I’d had the chance to win competitions and secure sponsorships and have such a great career, I would have been pretty upset.” Ali said. “I used to sweat on little things like staying up Sunday night stressing about how I would swim on Monday morning. Now I think about how good it is that my coach is going to kick my butt and I get the opportunity to get back to swim and train for a living.”
Ali has also had time to focus on his passions outside of competing; including focusing on his business ACTV Strength Co, spending time with wife Kel, catching up with mates and doing lots of reading.
Ali has found the recovery process to be quite challenging. The first 2 weeks he wasn’t allowed to walk, and unable to drive a car for 7 weeks. ‘’Ï was surprised at the amount of simple things that I took for granted, I’m now extremely grateful for the smallest improvements and the time and effort that my team is putting into my recovery”
Talking about his recovery and return to full training, Ali said he still has plenty of intensive therapy ahead of him, with daily visits to the hand therapist. Initially swimming will be the first of the 3 disciplines that he adds to his weekly routine with the board and ski to follow in future weeks. “Setting small attainable goals for my recovery has been important, this has helped me remain positive and it’s great to celebrate the small wins”
When it comes to returning to competition “The best-case scenario is that I return for round 2 in about eight weeks. The worst case is that I miss the Gold, miss the series and return at the back end of the year for Aussies” he said “I’ve been thinking I don’t want to go into the series halfway through and hold back the opportunity for some other young guy to qualify and get a chance to compete and get a taste of some of what I’ve experienced.”
With hot competition in the IronSeries from the likes of veterans Matt Bevilacqua, Matt Poole and Kendrick Louis, as well as emerging stars James Lacy, Max Brooks and TJ Hendy getting back into competing is a key focus for Ali. But he says he won’t be held to timelines for his return. “I’ve learned some patience through this” he said “At first I was looking at and counting down how many weeks until I could return. But it’s not a good way to look at it. My focus has now shifted to daily progression. I’m doing everything I can everyday –getting everything healing and functioning right is the priority, racing will follow”