As a professional runner of 12 years, you could say I’m just as much an expert at injuries as I am at racing around the world. Injuries are part of the deal. And I’ve learned that while they are the absolute worst for taking you out of the activities you love most, they are also opportunities. Yep, opportunities. Sometimes you really have to squint to see the silver lining, but it’s there. And since I’m 5 months into my recovery from achilles surgery with NO running (gasp), I don’t have to squint anymore to appreciate what those opportunities are. I’ve lived them. So next time you find yourself sidelined from your favorite sport, here are three tips for how to not only survive, but thrive through injury.
- Find the chink in your armor:
When I get an injury, my first reaction is usually full of expletives. But my second reaction is to surrender and look for the root cause. An injury doesn’t just happen. There is a reason, a weakness somewhere that prompted it. A sore achilles isn’t about the achilles. For example, it could be the result of poor glute and hip mobility or mechanics, and if you don’t take care of it, it will manifest in some other way as soon as your achilles calms down. An injury is always an opportunity to fine tune the machine so you can come back even stronger. Have a PT help you with the detective work and make a plan for you.
- Listen to podcasts
One of the things I miss most when I’m unable to run is having time to listen and deeply dive into music, uninterrupted. I have a 2 year old, and own my own business with my husband, so without running, I don’t get a lot of time to really listen to music. There’s something about being out in nature that feels like you are making your very own music video to whatever music you are listening to, bringing it all to life in a way being in the gym never can. Cross training on the elliptical just isn’t the same. So when I’m injured, I listen to podcasts instead. A good podcast gets my mind completely absorbed the way music in nature does, and the time flies by. Not only that but I learn new things. Podcasts literally get me out the door to do the cross training cardio that I would otherwise dread, because it is the only time I get to listen to them.
- Take it out of the lab
Sports can be this great laboratory for being your best self, pushing your limits, setting goals, and refining your body, mind, and spirit for the task at hand. It builds confidence, and perspective. But the point of the laboratory is to take what you learn about yourself and apply it to the outside world. Injury is a good time to put that into practice. Be that kickass climber in the office, or for your family. Attack a problem in your community or your household with the same intellectual curiosity you apply to improving the bike leg of your triathlon. That’s the ultimate test of your athleticism: it’s exchange rate in your every day life.
So while injuries will always suck, (let’s be honest), trust me when I say that these tips will make all the difference.
Yours in Sport,