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Coming Back from an Injury

Coming Back from an Injury

Sweat from the Heart. Coach Bree’s blog on training, racing and life.

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Did you just experience one of the most horrible things that could happen to an athlete? You know…an injury?

Nothing is more depressing than getting an injury and having to sit out for weeks or even months from the sport you love. Sometimes this injury happens because of an accident. Sometimes it’s an overuse injury. Whatever the reason, injuries suck and they can suck the joy out of everything you were trying to accomplish.

But don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Sometimes injuries can be blessings in disguise. They force you to take a good look at what you’re doing and challenge you to reassess your approach. Do you need to change your run form? Do you need a new bike fit? Does your swim need some work? And sometimes you’re out so long from an injury that you have to slowly start back over. But this is a perfect opportunity to start right! Start with drills you have never done before. Start with the miles being shorter and more time spent working on good form. Injuries can be a reset button and you can come back stronger and better than ever.

But what do you do in the meantime while you rehab? What do you do when you’re cleared to get back at it? The most important thing you can do is to keep your mind focused on the positive.

First, you have every right to be pissed. Validate your thoughts, express your frustrations. but don’t let them control you once you get back into it. Let go of the negative and move on to the positive. A positive attitude will help you tremendously, but being negative will suck your energy and your workouts will suffer as a result. Re-frame your thinking when you get back at it. Tell yourself things like “I’m grateful I can run, I will make this the best run it can be” and “every day I can exercise is every day I’m getting stronger” and “I will make the most out of this swim and focus on what I can do – good form and as many laps as I can do in this workout”.

If we think negative thoughts, we begin to believe those thoughts, and they begin to control us. If you think things like you’re not going to get back to where you were (pre-injury), your thoughts will become reality. You won’t get quality out of your workouts, you will be stuck and focused on the past, and you risk going into every workout with thoughts of “what if” or “I wish”. It’s a dangerous path to take, so when you find yourself walking down that path, re-frame your thoughts and search for something positive to think about and keep you grounded. Just as much as racing is mental, so too is coming back from an injury. It’s all in the mind. It’s all in how you approach it mentally.

Celebrate all the victories, no matter how small, and over time you will get back to where you were pre-injury, and the likelihood is high that you’ll surpass your prior fitness and hit a whole new level of training and racing. Set your sights on the positive, and with time, patience and the right attitude, you’ll reach your goals.

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