… Up that is. Busted. Knackered. Broken. Injured.
harmed, damaged, or impaired.
"a road accident left him severely injured"
Frustration, Annoyance, Depression.
“The runner was injured and was Frustrated, annoyed and depressed”
My running friend, Nikki, is injured. She is also very frustrated, annoyed and it can be safely said a little depressed about the whole situation. She is almost rabid with the runners’ curse; that ‘ant’s in your pants’, fidgety feeling you get when you mind wants to run and your body isn’t letting you.
This is the first time she has been injured to the point where she has to back off on the running. This is a huge learning curve for her.
I am all too familiar with the injury frustration. I am an ‘old-hand’ at the grit-and-bare-it depression you get when you are having to contain all that nervous energy into sitting still. I completely understand that ‘Jumping-bean’ feeling you get in your stomach and the complementary snarkiness you dish out to friends and family. Oh, I have SO been there.
Injury is always a mentally taxing time for anyone; and even more so for someone who is quite physically active. When it happens it can feel like the world has ended, but what it doesn’t feel like is, is a learning experience. However, injury is the greatest tool in a runners’ mental arsenal.
When you are running –or in fact doing anything physically strenuous- there are times when you feel you can’t go on. Times when you wish you could stop, but for some reason you have to go on. You can physically train for anything, but there is no way to practice for the mental challenges. Well, actually there is. Break yourself physically. (un-intentionally of course. I am not suggesting that as part of your training plan for your marathon you should go out and break a leg or anything).
Injury is the greatest tool we have for our physical challenges. There is a lot to be learnt, but only if you are willing to listen. Here is a list of what injury teaches us.
1 1) You are adaptable. My friend Nikki was completely desolate that all of her training plans have been pushed out of the way due to her tendonitis. She felt that her racing aims next year are now in the gutter and that there was no way out of this. Injury allows us to stop and reflect on our training plans. Preparing for a race is not all about running; there are other ways to get to the same objective. Bring in pool-running, weights, cycling, in-fact-anything that gets the job done. I am a huge fan of pool running – although it has been over a year since I last did any. When I broke my ankle, then knee a couple of year’s later, pool-running was my savior – mentally and physically. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you dress as a partially dressed drowning rodent that is giving birth to make you feel good about yourself.
2) There is more to life than just running (or what-ever physical exercise you are into). We quite often lose perspective when we immerse ourselves in our hobby. As we become better, we become more obsessed about getting to the next level. We train more; train harder. However, this generally comes at the expense of other passions in our life. Injury allows us to put other hobbies and passions in the lime-light. Forgotten that you could belly-dance and you were damn good at it? Now is the time to remember!
3) When you’re injured your social life doesn’t stop. Hands-up all those who have tried to avoid anyone doing any type of physical exercise as you lie-back in pain-killer induced fog? Yep, me too. However, when you are experiencing the low of actually not getting out there and doing what-ever, then you are also adding to that by avoiding the support network of your friends. Nikki, took to volunteering at the weekly Conkers Parkrun when she was injured and it meant she had the mental boost of doing something supportive to others, as well as having a good time hanging out with her friends. Face-it, the nutters that hang around with you when you are running (or what-ever) are the only nutters that will cope with you when you are in your manic lunatic injured phase.
4) Next time, injury won’t be so scary. The first time you are injured, it is scary. Especially after a long injury, you never feel you will ever get back there again. The future seems like a far-distant-land that you will never reach. However, being injured will morph into recovery, and then finally, into being one-hundred-percent fit. Next time you are injured, you will remember the fact that you will recover and that it is just a matter of time. You have learnt what you can do to pass the time both mentally and physically. Next time you are injured, the family won’t be calling out the Doctor for family therapy. Well, okay… maybe a little – just remember to channel your aggravation into baking and they won’t care that they have to walk slowly instead of running up the stairs.
5) This too will pass. During our long runs or races we all hit a period where we think we can’t go on. That all we want to do is to stop and have everything to finish. However, in that pit of ‘The Wall’ we all know we have to go on. Having faced injury, you know pain. The pain you feel as you hit ‘The Wall’ is probably not as intense or as prolonged as being injured. You have a new perspective on what your body can actually go through. Anything you physically feel as you run is just temporary. Yes, it hurts. Yes you want to stop. Yet, there were times you were forced to stop and then –and after- it really DID hurt. Trust me after running up a mountain for three-miles on a broken knee, I now know that a little stitch and wanting to puke is small-fry.
6) You will come back from this stronger. Let’s face it, those hours (and dollars) spent at the Physiotherapist are going to be doing something. Most people are injured because the way they have excercised has been lousy. Their form (wether that be running, swimming, lifting, whater-ever) was probably shocking and as such the body has caved. The physio will high-light where you went wrong; what you need to do to get it right. All those that have actually spent weeks doing physio-therapy will know that the excercises actually hurt. They aren’t fun. They aren’t fun for a reason and as such you are getting stronger. When you come back, you will be stronger, wiser and body-smarter. Remember this.
So, here is my condensed list on why being injured is good for you. Why, everyone at some point should embrace being injured and you shouldn’t treat a period of inactivity as a major-disaster. If the mental mantra’s above don’t help you, then may I suggest chocolate and alcohol. Next to therapy, they are the best way to avoid expensive divorces and the lament of lost friendships. I am talking about giving chocolate and alcohol, not eating it. DO YOU HEAR THAT NIKKI? CHOCOLATE AND ALCOHOL.
Do you think that was subtle enough?