Patience, Key to Recovery by Coach Steve Tise
Athletes often have a negative response to an injury since their sport is such an important part of their lives. An injury can bring out a range of emotions, frustration, anger, BOREDOM, depression, anxiety, and LONELINESS. These emotions not only feel bad, but they can affect the individual’s rehabilitation program, and sometimes their desire to return to their sport. For this reason, just like mental toughness is important in workouts and races, they’re also important when recovering from an injury. Your mind is a powerful tool, so the next time you’re injured, these tips can help think of your way to recovery.
Accept the injury
Before being injured, you had your race training schedule where you would meet up with your training group and hit the road. Now that you’re injured, these activities will have to change, but it is important to keep in mind that these changes are temporary. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is accept your new reality. Stay focused on the positives — like being able to stay up late because you don’t have to set an alarm for 4 a.m. Injuries are usually our body’s way of telling us that we need a break, when you do get back to training, you’ll be refreshed and ready to run.
Use the extra time wisely
Without training, you may have lot of extra time in your week. The best thing an injured individual can do is to dedicate at least a portion of that time to rehabbing an injury, time that was already cleared on your schedule. Use whatever time you have left over to do something that rejuvenates you or helps take your mind off your injury, joining a book club, meditating, going for a long walk (if your injury allows it), doing some yoga, or grab a coffee with friends.
Don’t worry about fitness loss
One of the biggest worries on an individual’s mind when they’re injured is how much fitness they’ll lose during their time off. As athletes, we spend a lot of time patiently building up our fitness, so the thought of losing any of it can be terrifying, especially when you have no idea how long you’ll be on the sidelines. This is a valid concern, but I’m here to tell you not to worry about it. Yes, you may lose a little bit of ground, but when you return, you’ll likely make it back quicker than you think.
Eat well, Sleep well
Your diet and sleep have a significant effect on your mood and your mental health, so when you’re injured it’s important to continue to eat healthy and keep to your same sleet schedule as much as possible. Eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods can also help speed your recovery process, so use your extra time to prep some healthy meals, sleep and this will help fast-track your way to being injury-free.
Before your injury your goal was to set a new PR, or you were training for your next destination Marathon. It’s disappointing when you must put a pause on your goals, but remember, you’ll be back. For now, set new goals, such as committing to doing your rehabilitation exercises every day, and get eight hours of sleep every night. Take your competitive energy that you normally put into your training and focus it on recovering, will help you get better faster.
Friends and family
In many cases, injured athletics tend to withdraw from their social circles. While they’re out of the game, especially when their social lives are heavily centered around training, you will end up “staying away”. This, however, can make depressive feelings even worse, which can slow down the recovery process. As much as possible, try to stay connected with your friends and family while you’re injured. Chances are, many of your friends have been to your spot before and will be eager to support you through your recovery. They can’t support you if you isolate yourself from them, so reach out when you need someone to talk to. Stay engaged with your training group and your local running / triathlon store to help keep your spirits up!