Nothing bothers an athlete more than an injury. We can usually muster up the strength to compete through illness. Stress is usually alleviated by intense training, and we can convince ourselves, even in times of immense pain and torture, that our training is good for us. When pain or soreness turns to injury, that's when we as competitors are usually forced to throw in the towel.
Injuries are serious and should be handled seriously. There are many strategies to try to prevent injury. I say "try" because sometimes there are freak occurrences and those types of injuries, we shouldn't beat ourselves up over. They are to be unexpected. The typical injuries we see in runners come from "too much, too fast" training strategies and imbalance of strength between antagonistic muscle groups. The importance of this entry isn't the alleviation of pain, or specific exercises to prevent training injuries, but rather the manner in which we handle these injuries emotionally and psychologically.
It was only 3 weeks ago when I had those thoughts of doubt that every true competitor fears possessing. I thought I would never be faster again; I was on my decline.
I had just arrived back from Delaware where I had one of my best runs in recent memory. Complete bliss. Along a stream, on an uncrowded path which Lisa and I enjoyed the scenery of a 5 mile jog. I felt complete relief. My previously and chronically injured left knee held up great and I was able to escape the mental fatigue due to constant refocusing on form, which my prior two runs were swamped by. Things like, How long was my stride length? My turn over rate? How about these shoes? Are they still the right shoe for my foot strike? Instead I heard absolute silence from my brain. Then, after returning to San Diego I went on a go-to 5k route to reestablish my bearings, after too much travel, and found it a crazy struggle. I was slow. Weak! Out of breath!? Confused. I took two months off running and pretty much all sustained cardio due to a bad MCL sprain, but the literal thought of, "I'll never be the same" went through the my head a hundred times. Injury ruined my stress relief mechanism and my internal competition with myself. I literally felt no need to ever run or work on speed again.
This is important to me because I have never been a quitter. Anyone who knows me, knows I believe in myself, but for the first time I felt like I failed myself. I began to understand the complacency pit that people fall into. I thought I lost my lust for running.
what we must remember as humans is that even though we are breakable, we are very fixable. Our bodies are the most magnificent machines we know of. I am 27 years old, the same age as my first vehicle. That old Nissan pick up still runs but it has had repair after repair and maintenence after maintenance done to keep it working. Are we to suggest that the human body, after 27 years won't have atleast some problems? And what about 30,40,50,60 years down the line? Wouldn't you expect your vehicle to have some changes and repairs made? What I'm getting at is we shouldn't expect injury or fear it. But if we want to reduce our chances of injury, we must prepare ourselves mentally for the struggle of rehab and practice preventative care to avoid all together.
Injury is not the end. It is a whole new battle. It is like trying your hand at a different race distance that you had never trained or even imagined training for. Over coming injury is quite possibly as great a feeling as winning.