Saysky Athlete Leon Kofoed, a reigning OCR European Champion, has made an impressive comeback to his sport, after facing a serious injury earlier this year, where he broke his leg.
Inspired by the motto #NoMiracles, Leon has proven that nothing comes easy and persistence is key.
Leon broke his leg (tibia bone) on a training camp in the US, back in March. He has spent months in rehabilitation to recover and get back on track with his level of performance:
“It took me 8 weeks to just stand on two feet again, another 2-4 weeks to start walking, and finally 4 weeks to be capable of running.”
It’s been a long journey of physical challenges and mental ups and downs on the road:
“I've had to redefine my dreams and wishes, restructure my life, deal with emotional stress and a mild depression.”
The experience has positively impacted his mindset and approach to life, and he is ambitious about the future and willing to give it everything. His next step is to participate in the US and UK National OCR Series, and win his 3rd consecutive European title.
If you’re curious about Leon’s story and his return to the sport, please read the interview below.
Introduce yourself and briefly explain your injury.
Hi! I'm Leon Kofoed, the reigning OCR European Champion, and I broke my tibia bone on the last day of March, 2021. This was at my last event on a 7-week training/racing camp in the US, which was supposed to leave me stronger and faster than ever. It left me broken.
Could you give us a short intro to your recovery program and the physical progress up to this date.
I had surgery a week after the fracture. Then it took me 8 weeks to stand on 2 feet again, another 2-4 to start walking tiny, tiny walks and in July, I was finally able to do a short run on the AlterG treadmill. It took me an additional 4 weeks to be capable of running (for a few minutes) outdoors. Let's call that process slightly frustrating.
What is your physical level today compared to your level before the accident happened?
Today I am on my way home from a training camp at Las Playitas. During the 13 days I've run 105km on the trails and roads, everything with full body weight and with +3000m of elevation gains. My fitness and shape aren’t great, but I will say I'm about 70% back from the injury. It's been a lot of hard work.
Can you tell us about the mental processes and challenges that you experienced along the way?
Ohhhh you want to talk about the dirty details? This is a relevant, but also a painful subject as I've struggled so much mentally these past 7-8 months. I've had to redefine my dreams and wishes, restructure my life, deal with emotional stress and a mild depression. The latter isn't simply an injury thing, but a result of being forced to be inactive. Within the past few years I've lost my mom to cancer and also other family members. It's been a daunting task with too many days feeling like "what's this even worth?!".. Thanks to my sponsors who pay me to be an athlete, I've had a chance to still keep my eyes on the prize, and now we're back on a good path.
How did you manage to stay motivated and strong during the journey? And have you ever considered giving up your sport?
I found three key motivating factors and set my mind to focus on those:
- Social training is king. Even if the training isn't "the perfect training" for me, then it's way better than no training.
- Being sad, down and not wanting to do things are OK feelings. Embracing those days and thoughts paid off with increased energy over time and also less stress. It was very, very hard to reach this point though.
- I love projects! So I partnered with a travelling agency and started having training camps in Spain. I also picked up learning Spanish (192 days streak on Duolingo!), I started working part time at Ernst & Young and maintained my teaching job at Copenhagen Business School. So I found motivation in the FUTURE. In language, skills, finances and more. Those distractions are better to me than spending weeks on end staring at my screen.
What is your next step and future plans with your sport and in life?
My next step is participating in the US and UK National OCR Series, increasing my running capacity and winning my 3rd consecutive European title. I only have 2-4 years left in the sport (I think) and I'm not playing for scraps. I'm hungry for the big competitions and for racing my very, very best. It'll be interesting to let this fire ignite the next part of my career. I hope to receive the needed support to finally be an athlete 100%. It's been a struggle for the past 4-5 years, and now I just want to give it everything. I've put in the work, showed my capacity on and off the course - and I'm starting to really believe in myself. Which is weird, as my leg is still not that great and I'm not sure if it'll ever be. But even with that in mind, I'm certain these next 2-4 will be some to remember.
- March 28: broke his leg at a training camping in the US
- April 7: surgery, including 2 screws
- 8 weeks break - incapable of standing up
- 4 weeks of practicing - how to walk
- 4 weeks of practicing - how to run, with lots of short runs on the AlterG, and then light runs outdoor in late July
- August: training camp with more volume
- September: World Cup in the US, rank 8th
- October: training camp
- November: training camp
- December: Abu Dhabi, HM in the desert with 40 obstacles