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Mentally Coping With Injury

As I sit here writing this blog entry, I have my left leg elevated and an ice pack wrapped around my Achilles. Yes I am injured so it seems appropriate to write a post detailing how we can deal with injuries. Research shows that at some point many of us will become injured and for those of us that have; we know it’s not only a physical battle but a mental one too.

Many blogs entries, coaches or training partners will say “try to stay positive” but it’s only natural to feel down, frustrated and upset. It’s often difficult to stop these feelings but you don’t have to let them take over, you can move past them. When injured returning to running can seem far away but once back, you quickly forget what it’s like to be injured. You will get there, one step at a time.

Set Goals and Stay Present

Setting goals can be difficult as we often don’t know how long we will be injured for. We’ll often set an arbitrary date in the future to be back running by or enter a race even though we still aren’t running. These can often do more harm than good as we rush or return meaning we may be injured for longer than originally anticipated. Often it can feel like one step forward and two steps back so take each day one at a time and celebrate the small victories.

I set goals to keep me motivated, keep me from imploding from the inside. I set goals because I do not aspire to get back to where I have been – I aspire to go further. I have both short and long term goals. The short is one I use on a daily basis - listen to my body, do no more than it feels ready for. My long term goal is a race time; this keeps me cross training hard and maintaining my rehabilitation exercises and provides inspiration in those harder days.

Trust the Process

We learn more from mistakes and failures than we ever would from constant winning or success. So use this time to learn and improve from the mistakes that landed you in this injured state. Target your weaknesses, take ownership and shift your mind-set into knowing you can take control of the situation.

Get off Strava

Strava is a brilliant social media platform but it can be useful to disconnect whilst injured. Constantly seeing other people running and training can be difficult and it won’t make you recover any quicker. It’s not just Strava, anything could serve as a trigger so if it’s not making a positive impact, get rid of it.

Keep (some) Structure

When in full training, it’s likely to have a training plan that we follow and therefore structure. Whilst sometimes this can be detrimental, when injured I think it can be useful to have some amount of structure in your routine. Planning time for rehab exercises or scheduling time for cross training can be good ways to maintain focus, motivation and control.

Invest in Other Areas of You

Running can make up a big part of someone's identity and sometimes it can be hard to remember there are other things that we do. When we are unable to run we have the opportunity to work on many other aspects of ourselves whether that is family, career or throwing ourselves into another of our passions. Being injured can also mean feeling a little disconnected so why not help your training partners out. Be the stop watch whilst they are doing reps or turn up to simply spectate.

The main thing is using the time of being injured to learn from mistakes so you don’t make the same one again. Soon enough you won’t remember what being injured felt like. That’s all, my foots pretty cold now. But remember that strength shows not in your ability to persist but the ability to start over again with a smile on your face, passion in your veins and love in your heart.

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