Review of Back on Track: how Fiona Ford recovered from a life-changing accident to get back on the podium
When the odds are stacked against you and hope seems all but dissolved, the truest test of the human character begins. In that moment of reckoning, how far will you go to pick up the pieces and exceed every expectation?
In June 2012, professional Ironman athlete and triathlon coach Fiona Ford was cycling in Surrey, on the soon-to-be Olympic road race course to Box Hill. Her friend Tania was visiting from abroad and the sun cast a warm glow on the roads as she put her new time trial bike through its paces. It was by all means a brilliant day – and then her life changed forever.
A careless driver pulled out in front of Ford, sending both her and the bike flying through the air and crashing to the tarmac. The impact obliterated her body, snapping her pelvis and collarbone and seriously injuring her back. Being a champion Ironman is one thing but, as the ambulance pulled up, Ford knew the biggest endurance test of her life had begun.
Back on Track is written by Ford herself, and chronicles the aftermath of the life-changing collision that left her lying in agony on a hospital bed, unable to walk, with an ominous tingling sensation in her spine. She would, the doctor said, never be able to run again.
With her livelihood in jeopardy, Ford took fate into her own hands and set about building her life back, one milestone at a time. It was a journey that roped in the skills she had honed as a professional athlete – courage, attention to detail and point-blank refusal to give up – forcing her to tap into every ounce of mental strength she could find.
From re-learning to walk in the hospital hallway to daring to take her first running steps on a sandy beach in Thailand and, one year on, cycling the Route des Grandes Alpes with her athletes, this is a story of grit, determination and spirit. Three years post-accident she was back on the start line at the Windsor Triathlon, which she won by 12 minutes.
Back on Track is an eye-opening, inspiring and pragmatic tale of rehabilitation, recovery and triumph. It also contains key advice for those in similar situations, as for those present at the scene of an accident.
The Independent newspaper review, click here
BBC Radio 4 interview on Midweek program, click here
BBC Radio Scotland interview on Out for the Weekend program, click here
Bob Babbitt radio interview on Babbitville, after Ironman World Championships, Kona, click here
Runner’s World US, interview for Back On Track and new release of Rebound, featuring Fiona’s recovery strategies click here
The thought of Fiona’s accident, let alone the fall out from it all, is overwhelming. Her recovery is no miracle – as she describes in the book, it’s the result of an unfailing commitment to every aspect of rehabilitation, from fresh nutrition to daily running simulation in the pool. It is an incredible achievement.
I found this book endlessly inspiring. As an endurance athlete it reinforced in me the value of mindset and drive. To be coached by Fiona, who draws from her vast pool of knowledge, years as a professional athlete and life experience, including this most testing stage, is an honour.
Simon Griffiths, Outdoor Swimmer magazine editor and swimmer
Fiona’s book, Back On Track, describes how she painstakingly rebuilt her fitness and business following this devastating accident.
On one level, this book could be read as a recovery guide for someone who’s suffered a severe injury, but it’s much more than that. Fiona’s positive attitude (focus on what you can do, not what you can’t), her attention to detail and total dedication to a systematic, progressive recovery plan are lessons anyone can apply.
You quickly realise that the commitment with which she worked on her rehabilitation exercises and hydrotherapy sessions is the same commitment that had previously made her a prize winning professional athlete and successful triathlon coach.