by Rebecca Parsons
In 2016, Shae Foudy was on a heater. She took home a second-place finish at PPG, won the Santa Monica Pier Paddle, and was ruthlessly climbing the rankings. Then she got injured.
It happened during a weekend training run, one of Foudy's favorite things to do outside of paddling. Her doctor's visit revealed she had a type of knee bursitis, which is essentially a prolonged version of tendinitis.
Initially, she tried to stick to a somewhat regular training routine despite the pain. She nixed standup paddling when the pain became too much, and spent some time paddling prone before she realized that too was making things worse. Like most athletes, she was concerned about losing fitness and muscle mass, so she spent time in in the gym working her upper body and core, in addition to countless hours spent at physical therapy.
Foudy's entire life was centered around paddling and suddenly she found herself unable to compete or even go for a short paddle with friends.
"Your sport becomes how you identify yourself and standup paddling was my identity," Foudy says. "You get over the physical part. But the mental aspect, that was the hardest part. You're with yourself and you have to come to terms with who you are as a person on a deeper level. I had to face my inner demons."
Without paddling, Foudy suddenly found herself with a lot of time on her hands. She spent countless hours sitting at the beach, journaling and reflecting.
"I believe everything happens for a reason," Foudy says of her injury. "I was falling out of love with the sport and doing it for the wrong reasons—pressure, sponsors, and numerous different things. It woke me up and allowed me to see that I need to do this for myself."
If you've ever had the opportunity to meet Shae, you know that she radiates happiness and positivity. She's driven, she's a fighter, and she takes everything in stride. This injury has been no exception.
Despite the struggles and frustrations, Foudy is grateful for the lessons learned during her nine-month hiatus from the sport. She recognizes the importance of rehab and now prioritizes rolling, icing, and most importantly, stretching.
"My number one advice would be to allow your body to rest and actually allow yourself time to heal," Foudy says. "I kept going back and trying too soon and that's why I was injured for nine months."
Foudy's knee is finally doing well and she is working her way back. She's rebuilding her endurance and is slowly adding in more miles, distance, and speed. Progress is slow, and what was once considered a warm-up is now difficult, but it's progress nonetheless.
She made her first appearance in the race scene at the Santa Monica Pier Paddle in June to break her silence. In July, she competed in the San Clemente Ocean Festival and took home the Poseidon Award for winning both the SUP surf and sprint events as well as a second place finish in the 10K race. She hopes to make #PPG2017 her official "comeback" race at the elite level.
Looking forward, Foudy is excited for the seasons to come. She has big goals and plans to take proper care of her body to stay injury free in order to achieve them. Foudy recently graduated high school and is excited to finally have the opportunity to travel and compete as well as test her hand at competitive longboarding. Her future looks bright.
Shae Foudy’s local take on Pacific Paddle Games presented by Salt Life