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The fan favorite returns to racing after a difficult 2015.
To say 2015 was unkind to Linsey Corbin would be an understatement. The five-time Ironman champion—beloved for her positivity, can-do attitude, and cowboy hats—struggled to return to health after a double whammy of illness and injury last spring. After several months of failed rehabilitation attempts, Corbin was forced to face every pro athlete’s worst nightmare: a complete hiatus from physical activity.
During that time, Corbin gained 12 pounds and lost a significant amount of fitness. It was, as she says, “a rough go,” yet her trademark optimism remained intact. Attitude is her most valuable asset during her comeback in 2016, where she has already raced three times and will go for a fourth this weekend at the 70.3 North American Pro Championships in St. George, Utah.
Triathlete.com: You’re coming back from some pretty big blows sustained in 2015. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve gone through recently?
Linsey Corbin: Yes. Thanks for asking. 2015 was a rough go for me—the wheels started to fall off in March when I got sick with a bacteria and a virus infection that took a good eight weeks to clear my system. Things culminated at my first race of the year, last year’s St. George 70.3, where I got a stress fracture in my femur. It wasn’t until November that I started to feel back to 100% healthy. While I didn’t get to race or train much at all, I grew a lot on many personal levels.
Triathlete.com: What strategies worked for helping you to bounce back?
LC: My strategies for bouncing back were all over the map. Initially I was willing and able to do anything and everything to get healthy, stay fit via cross training, and to heal as quickly as possible. After a summer of pushing the “healing” envelope, eventually the best thing for me to do was to simply cool my jets and do nothing at all. I ended up taking six weeks off of everything—and I mean everything: no walk around the block, no trips to the grocery store, no dog walks, nothing. This allowed my body to hit a complete reset. The week of Ironman Hawaii 2015 was my first week “moving” again.
Triathlete.com: You maintained quite the positive attitude during that time—not an easy feat. How do you keep from getting discouraged during recovery from injury?
LC: I wouldn’t say that I didn’t get discouraged during my injury—as I most definitely did. Being discouraged just showed me that I cared. With that said, most days it was all about staying in the moment, focusing on the things I was could do, measuring small improvements, and maintaining faith that my body would eventually come around. I recently told someone: you can lose fitness during an injury, but what you don’t lose is fight, resiliency or tenacity. All of those qualities make a great athlete.
Triathlete.com: Any silver linings from this whole ordeal?
LC: Now that I have come out the other side of last year, I see there were many silver linings to sitting out a year from racing. One of the best reminders for me is that triathlon is not the be-all, end-all. I essentially missed a year of racing, but at the end of the day, my husband, family, friends and long-term supporters still love me.
Lastly, sitting out last year gave me the opportunity to re-evaluate things I liked about racing and training and things I wanted to change. Moving forward, it’s all about getting back to the 3 P’s: Patience, Process and Progress.
Triathlete.com: How did it feel to finally race in Panama this spring?
LC: Amazing! I was back loving what I was doing. Most importantly, I finished the race with no major aches or pains. A sign to me that I was 100% healthy.
It was also amazingly hard. One of the more challenging things about returning to form for me has been getting confidence back in my body and learning to push the envelope again. It’s like I forgot how to make myself “hurt” in training and racing. Each week I up the ante a bit more, but I still am not back to where I was.
Triathlete.com: Was your fitness where you hoped or expected it to be after your hiatus?
LC: My fitness is about where I expected. I didn’t run from March until November. I put on 12 pounds. I did not exercise for eight weeks. It’s been a long road to fitness, but a fun one. When you are that out of shape, you constantly see improvements each week. I have been very focused on one week at a time, one day at a time, one session at a time.
Triathlete.com: How have you built from that race in Panama to prepare for this weekend’s race in St. George?
LC: I have raced twice since Panama: San Juan 70.3 and then Brasil 70.3. Each race I feel a bit more fit and a bit more confidence in myself and my abilities to perform. I still have a bit more work to do, but I am happy with where things are at. Progress, Process and Patience. I keep repeating those words over and over.
Triathlete.com: Going in to St. George, how are you feeling?
LC: I have mixed feelings going into St. George. [Laughs] I have raced there twice and so far the score has been St. George: 2, Linsey 0. At last year’s event, I broke my femur. The year before I just got my butt kicked. I would love to get a bit of redemption this year. Training has been going well, I am more fit than I was in Brasil (a few weeks ago), I am healthy, and I am excited to race. I just finished my biggest training block of the year, now it’s time to test myself against the course and competition.
Triathlete.com: How does this race fit into your plans for 2016?
LC: So far this year has been all about building momentum and getting my confidence and fitness back. St. George is one step along the way. My goal for the early part of the year is Ironman Cairns and I will be using this weekend’s race to see where my fitness and training is at.