There’s barely an athlete out there who has never had injury worries. Some more, some less. And while I used to look down on athletes who are ‘always injured’, I have changed my view over the years, mainly for my own benefit. I still think that injury should not be accepted as unavoidable. However, unless you are injured because you are making a crucial mistake in your training, like ramping up volume or intensity so your body reaches breaking point, thinking less of yourself because you have an injury is not going to help the situation.
This all sounds really clever, but of course it’s never this easy when the moment arises. I remember very well how I struggled to keep motivated when I spent 8 months unable to run because I had not paid attention for one split second. I twisted my (hypermobile) ankle so badly that I damaged the cartilage. I worked myself through the attention of three physios until I found the one that would eventually diagnose the problem correctly and proceed to fix it.
I’ve been meaning to write about this since it first became apparent that the funny feeling in my left quad and the strange shooting pain in my calf were more than a temporary hardware failure. However, this tasked turned out to be impossible until just now, when I can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel – thanks to an elbow poked into my left glute for the best part of 20 minutes on Friday afternoon.
So how do I cope? Normally I get upset (“This is just soooo unfair!”) and angry and I have a good cry. I also eat chunks of chocolate. This may not sound great but I need to mourn all the training sessions and races that I won’t be doing as a result of my injury. This state can last a good few days. Once I’ve dragged myself back out of the hole I re-assess my goals, I re-write my training plan, and I get on with life. I find the following three thoughts in particular really helpful.
I focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t.
Luckily my injuries have so far only meant that I couldn’t run, leaving me the swim and the bike. So I bike. I bike lots! I would do things like hill reps out of the saddle – ever noticed how close that movement comes to running? After all that chocolate eating I often find myself substituting my run training with good nutrition. So my training is now swim – bike – eat well rather than swim – bike – run. I may not be able to run but I make sure that when I will start running again, I’m in the best possible shape I can be.
I draw on my past experiences.
End of last summer I run faster than ever. However, I had only returned to running in July after eight months off running. So how did that work? I’m guessing that bike fitness and weight loss played a big part, but the actual reason doesn’t matter now. What does matter is that I KNOW I CAN run well even with less than ideal preparation.
I remind myself that tomorrow is another day.
So I can’t run at the moment. I may not be as well prepared for my next race as I would like to be. However, there will always be another race. Someone once cleverly said: “In the end everything will be fine. If not, it won’t be the end.”