1) Let yourself be sad.
I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, a sports injury isn't that big of a deal. It's not cancer. Nobody died. The sun still rises every morning. BUT for many of us, sport is a big part of our lives and when that part is missing, it's depressing. Training and racing make me happy. Without training and racing, I am sad. No point in trying to pretend otherwise. The trick though is, you can't wallow in your own sorrow forever. Eventually you have to move on.
|How fun is this guy? He's orange! But he does look sad. And that's okay.|
2) "What-ifs" are toxic. Don't let them win.
By "what-ifs" I mean the "what if I can't race X race because of this injury", "what if it doesn't heal and I lose all my fitness", "what if I disappoint my coach, my family, my sponsors", "what if I have to get surgery", "what if the surgery doesn't work" "what if I can't race this season at all", "what if I can NEVER race again", etc... What-ifs can totally consume you and leave you in a pit of despair. And really they are just a total waste of energy, emotion and time. Why worry about something that has yet to happen? When dealing with injuries, work only with the information you KNOW to be true. And take it one day at a time.
3) Don't be too proud to reach out for help.
And by help, I mean your friends/family/coach/teammates, but also, professional help. More than any other time I've been injured, I did just this, this time around. And it has made a huge difference. These people all really want to help you. Let them.
4) Focus on what you CAN do.
I was definitely guilty of just the opposite when Ironman Texas rolled around. I so desperately wanted to be in The Woodlands racing, that I really struggled to focus on anything else. Bad news bears. When you're injured there are plenty of things you can't do, sure, but there are also a lot of things you can do. In my case, I couldn't bike or run but I sure could do a ton of all pull, one-legged, open turn swimming! And so I did that with all my heart. What else? Get tons of sleep to help with healing (you will have the time, after all!), rehab with a passion (time to strengthen all those weaknesses!), focus on your nutrition, read, go to the movies, plot your comeback. There are plenty of variables you can control, so control those and let the other stuff go.
5) Don't take your anger and frustration out on your spouse/significant other/coach/friends/etc...
Easy to do (sorry Oscar and Tim!), but obviously not a good option. It's not their fault you are hurt! Store up all that frustration and anger for your next open water mass swim start. All your pent up aggression will come in handy then!
6) Realize that everyone goes through their ups and downs.
When pushing to their limits, very few people make it through without an injury or some sort of "down". I personally just had to accept that it was my turn. I ask a ton of my body and I pushed it very, very hard for a very, very long time. It finally said "no more" and I had to respect that. My body wanted a break and it got one - about a 6 week break to be exact! As the saying goes though, the lows only make the highs that much better.
6) Know that once you can train/race again, you will be so thankful, hungry and motivated that you are bound to see a jump in performance. Plus your body will be refreshed!
Injuries force us to take the extended breaks that we probably need to take all the time. I never really lack for motivation but now, after this down time, my mind and body are rearing to go, more than EVER before!
7) And finally, once you are back to training/racing, DO NOT allow yourself to make comparisons.
Comparisons to others, comparisons to your former self, etc... These are bad juju and only steal your joy! I was so, so happy to start back into some training these past couple weeks. But it wasn't long before I started fretting about how much fitness I had lost. It's one thing to be out of shape in December but being out of shape is May/June is less than ideal! BUT, but, you have to put on the blinders and focus on the process of getting back in shape on YOUR body's timeline.
|See this racehorse? He has blinders on so he only worries about himself!|