Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) has struggled through a hamstring injury for the better part of a year, affecting both her cyclo-cross and road seasons by forcing her to sit on the sidelines. Her recovery process has been long, however, the main health concerns are no longer with her hamstring but because of overload and not recovering properly from training.
"Rest is currently the best way to return as soon as possible on the bike," Vos said in her recent blog posted on Rabo Liv’s website. "That's the hardest race of my career because I have always achieved results by working hard."
Vos, a 12-time multiple-discipline world champion, suffered a hamstring injury at the Dutch national championships that worsened at the Hoogerheide World Cup last year, and she struggled to take a bronze medal at the World Championships behind Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Sanne Cant. After resting, Rabo Liv later announced during the road season that Vos would continue to take a break as she didn’t feel like she was in good enough form to start racing.
"Extensive medical research has established that there was overtraining," Vos said in her blog. "The only thing against it that helps is complete rest. I then, with the doctors, took up to three months to fully rest. Then again I have undergone a series of medical tests and we can see if I have indeed made progress. At this moment I can do little else but wait.
"Overload is difficult to gauge and for me it's also unclear. It would have been easier if I had a broken leg. That is easy to explain. I do not feel bad, but I simply do not recover from great efforts… It's frustrating when you want to perform well and you find you are unable to pick up your level."
In the meantime, Vos is back to doing activities and light exercise, and taking care not to overload her body as she tries to make a full recovery.
"Taking rest does not mean I'm completely unhinged, quite the contrary. I've never lived as disciplined as in recent months. I pay attention to my diet and I pay close attention to my daily activities. As part of my recovery, I do have a program of light exercise, but it is not comparable with intense exercise. Recovery is in the long run only if I do not overexert my body."
Vos has continued to been involved in the sport while she recovers. She was involved in the development of the newly announced Women’s WorldTour, which will begin in 2016. She also attended the presentation launch for StrongHer in London, and she has been doing some race commentating.
"I am happy with what my name can do for the sport that I love so much, but nothing can beat the experience of the sport itself. I am first and foremost a professional athlete and my main goal is to get on the bike as quickly as possible."
Vos will continue her recovery process and she has not made concrete plans for a return to racing, however, she does have her sights set on the Olympic Games in Rio.