Healing my leg and managing my mind

I hate being injured! Exercise and training make such a positive contributiuon to my life that I find it very difficult when injury gets in the way. When I tore my hamstring at a training session with Andover Tri Club last week I drove home with that empty desolate feeling that I remember experiencing when I was about 15 and the pretty girl in the class who I had been dating told me she wanted to end it! I was seriously upset.

The problem isn’t the injury – they tend to take care of themselves as long as you help them along. I find the problem is managing my mind as I wrestle with a mixture of frustration, anger and jealousy (jealousy when ever I see someone else out training!).

This time I tried to get on top of the mental issue straight away. I figured that if I could keep myself happy during my injury period I wouldn’t be tempted to rush back and risk further injury. Also I would be a much nicer person to be around. So I took a few positive steps that have made a huge difference:

  1. To remove any temptation of even trying to do the VLT Triathlon on 9 September, I called the organisers straight away and withdrew. I immediately took that option off the table so that I didn’t lie awake at night thinking: “Well if I took it really easy on the run I could still try the swim and bike…..” – a recipe for disaster!
  2. I have found another event to enter in a few weeks. It’s an Aquathlon (swim and run). So now I have something positive to look forward to and focus my mind on. I have also booked in for an open water swim coaching session in the week before the aquathlon to cheer myself up. I think of it as a kind of triathlon retail therapy!!
  3. I made a pact with myself that an injured hamstring doesn’t mean no training. So in the 6 days since I injured myself, I have trained 4 times; twice on the bike and twice in the pool. None of these sessions have caused any problems with the injury. This has made a HUGE difference to my mental state!  This is one of great advantages of triathlon. If I can’t practise one discipline because of injury, I can take that as an opportunity to concentrate on the other two for a few weeks. I am also hopeful that I will get through the injury without losing too much aerobic fitness.
  4. I have booked in to see Sam, our physio, in about a week. By then I think the injury will be more or less recovered. Before I start any gentle running I want Sam to give me some rehab tips and some strengthening exercises to help prevent a recurrence. I want to continue to manage the injury even after I am back on my feet.

So all in all I am not feeling too bad. The injury is not as bad as I first thought. It is almost a week since it happened and I can walk normally and do easy hamstring stretches without any pain. I am cautiously optimistic that with another week or so of no running I will be able to try a very short and very easy run. The secret now is not to do anything silly that will cause me to aggravate the injury. I would much rather stay off it for a few extra days just to be sure than I would risk really hurting it and having to take another 2-3 weeks out – that really would test my mental resolve!!

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One response to “Healing my leg and managing my mind

  1. I could have written this myself! I had a calf muscle injury a few months ago, and I was so anxious and miserable I couldn’t run! I just knew I was going to morph into a blob of crap in the week or so it took to mend! Proactive is the way to be!

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