Being injured is hard. There is no way around it. It tests your patience, your motivation, your mind, your dedication and even your sanity. Injuries usually comes with a whole lot of cross training. Even if you enjoy cross training, not being able to run at all tests this joy. What can you do to ensure you remain as motivated as possible when an injury arrives?
Establish a routine.
When not injured, training for most has a structure and routine to it. This gives you direction and ensure you go into every day and training session confident in what you are doing. Therefore, keep this structure when injured. Throughout my injury I have kept a very similar training programme to what I would follow if not injured. My session days have mostly stayed the same, I have easier days in between, and on a Sunday I do a cross training version of a ‘long run’. This helps keep me motivated as I don’t feel lost throughout the week and am clear on what I am doing each day.
Remember your why. (And remind yourself of it daily)
We all have a purpose to what we do exercise wise. Whether you run to stay fit or train to compete, every step you take has a purpose. When injured, this doesn’t change. Your why stays the same, you are just chasing after it in a different way. I find it helpful to keep this at the front of my mind at all times and remind myself of it every morning. Therefore no cross training session seems pointless. Whilst I might not be running, I am still training and working hard, and chasing my goals by doing so.
Something is always better than nothing.
Exercise is exercise. Fitness is fitness. No matter what activity you do, it will benefit you in many ways and also help your running in the future. Except at the early stages of your injury, and on regular rest days, I believe you will always benefit more from doing something as opposed to nothing. You will undoubtedly loose some running fitness, but though cross training you can keep your base fitness level pretty high. Therefore, on those days when you are really wondering why, remember that a trip to the gym will do you the world of good.
Just like with most forms of exercise, the time goes by a lot quicker when you have company for it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone else who is injured. Perhaps you have a running friend who also cross trains, or there is someone at the gym you have spotted who regularly uses the same piece of equipment as you. Whoever it is, get in touch and see if they’d like to join you. Chances are they would be very grateful for the company too.
Listen or watch.
Cross training can be incredibly boring. Therefore there is no need to make it even more torturous. I find it helpful to put on some cracking upbeat tunes, or find a captivating series to watch, as this definitely makes the time pass by a lot quicker.
Listen to yourself.
For me personally, if I am feeling unmotivated and sluggish, it is a sign. I am usually excited to go training and ready for it. Therefore, when my brain starts telling me it can’t be bothered or it really doesn’t want to go, I usually need to listen to it. This is because I am starting to feel tired and potentially run down. If I listen to my body when it says this, I know I will be able to tackle every other day motivated and feeling fresh.
If you are in the midst of injury, I hope this helps keep you going, because you have GOT THIS. Don’t give up.
It’s been 106 days since the Commonwealth Games, which means it has been 106 days without running. However, this week marked the end of the running hiatus as the red light switched to green, and I was told I can begin the return to running. It won’t be quick, and I definitely won’t be getting outside for a 20 min jog let alone a session, but the build can begin, which is VERY exciting.
What does this look like?
If you are someone that has never had a serious injury, or you are not a runner, you may be wondering what the return to running looks like? Well, it is very very gradual. The first few ‘runs’ will predominantly be walking with a few minutes of running. For example, I will be starting with 9 minutes walking followed by 1 minute running x4. The walking will then gradually reduce as the amount of running increases. The goal after 4 weeks is to be running 3 miles continuous. This will then slowly build before intervals are slowly reintroduced. It is a long process, but doing it cautiously is the most important thing. Mostly because, I do not want to end up with another injury because I did too much too soon.
This is the point where I have to control my determination and excitement. It is easy to get carried away as soon as the word running is mentioned, but I have to remain patient and remember that the process is a very gradual one.
Where will I be running?
When returning to running, there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. One of these is the surface I will run on. Sometimes soft ground is better, but most of the time this can be uneven and bring the risk of rolling your ankle. I will therefore do my build up on the treadmill. For now, the treadmill is the best place to run as I can control most variables and simply focus on running strong and stable. My Noble Pro treadmill will therefore be my safe haven for the next while.
What else will I do?
Now running is returning, it is the priority. Therefore it will be done on fresh legs before I do any other training. However, I also want to stay fit, and whilst the running is very low, cross training will help keep my fitness. My training will therefore continue to mostly be cross training so the fitness does not fade. The amount I do on the elliptical will however slowly increase so more training is fully weight bearing, but I will continue to do sessions on the bike or in the pool.
When can I race again?
This is still a very unknown question. It is too early to be able to put a race in the diary as we do not know how the build up will go, but it is also not a pressure that I need to put on myself yet. Racing is something that is at the back of my mind until I am at a stage where I’m running higher volumes/intensities. Once I’m at this stage, then we will be able to set a race goal.
This is just the start of a very gradual build up, but I’ll keep you updated along the way and take you on the journey with me. I’m very excited just to take a few steps to start with.
Whether you are injured or not, or training for yourself or to perform on the world stage, cross training can have many benefits to running. Gradually, more and more people are employing cross training as part of their standard running training schedule, but why is it so good? And what benefits can it have?
Less impact. As obvious as it is, running is a high impact sport. With every stride, a lot of impact and force goes through each leg. As a result, our body can take quite the battering on a regular basis. If you want to increase your mileage, but don't quite have the body to withstand higher mileage, cross training can be a life saver. It allows you to increase your training volume, whilst limiting the amount of extra impact on your body. Instead of adding an additional easy run, you could get in the pool for half an hour, or do an easy spin on the bike. This can have the same cardiovascular benefit, but without putting your body under too much extra stress, something that would come with adding more mileage.
Refresh legs. If training is starting to catch up with you and your legs are really feeling it, opting for a cross training day can be immensely beneficial. If you allow the strain of running to be taken off your legs by having a cross training day when you’re feeling tired, you won’t regret it the following day. Just giving yourself that little bit of extra time to actively recover can be the difference between having another sub par tired session, or feeling fresh and ready to get after it. I tend to solely cross train on a Saturday because after some big sessions during the week, it allows my body to refresh and recover ahead of my long run on a Sunday. I have had many a time where I have been so grateful for this, because it’s allowed me to feel strong going into my long run and help avoid injuring something from running on tired legs.
Works different muscles. Us runners love to run. If we always did what we wanted when it comes to training, we would run miles and miles. Consequently, our bodies get very good at using the same muscles. Of course this is great when it comes to improving our running, however, if we put some of our non running muscles to work, we may find we actually improve even more. For example, cycling uses different muscles to running, and working these too, can add benefits to our running that we didn't know we needed. It also allows those running muscles to recover, whilst using other muscles.
Mental variation. Whilst you may not think you need it, sometimes it is good to spice things up. Our brains are lazy, and once they figure out how to do something more easily, we can become complacent without even realising. Cross training allows us to work at intensities we aren’t used to, and therefore allows us to push ourselves more at times without realising . It therefore keeps our brains able to work our bodies hard without always knowing where our limits lie.
Whilst we LOVE to run, we all need a bit of a refresh from time to time. Adding a form of exercise that isn’t running gives you some time away from the sport, enabling you to enjoy those moment spent running even more. When you may start to feel tired, and your motivation may begin to slide a little bit, replacing running with cross training for a day or two reminds you how much you love it. You therefore approach your next run with increased motivation.
Other social circles. It sounds crazy, but not everyone likes to run. However, most people enjoy keeping active. Opting for a bit of cross training allows you to get some time in with friends who may not like running. I find having a bit of non-running chat also allows me to keep perspective whilst appreciating other forms of movement that people do outside of running.
Next time you're tempted to increase your mileage, but you don’t think your body would thank you, choose a form of cross training. Any movement is good movement, and all forms of cross training will benefit your running in some way, so get stuck in, and enjoy doing something a little bit different.
We all know what the physical side of injury looks like and how you deal with this. You find the problem, let it heal, strengthen it, make changes, and continue to look after it. However, the mental side needs similar treatment, but is often neglected, mostly because it is not visible. When you get injured, your mind does as well, because dealing with injury can be just as painful as the injury itself. I thought I would use this blog to explore what the emotions of injury look like, how they have changed, and how I have dealt with them.
Whether you are someone that just loves to move your body, or a professional athlete, there is a sense of loss when you get injured. I was losing something that holds a massive place in my life. Having this taken away, left me with a feeling of sadness. Suddenly my mode of release/escapism was gone.
As a result, I had to look elsewhere. I had to uncover other hobbies that I perhaps don’t usually have time for. I also tried to do some form of training each day. Whether it was simply stretching, or as time went on, getting in the pool/on the bike, I made sure to enjoy other modes of movement to give me a sense of purpose.
I also found it helpful to fill my time with other positive things, such as seeing friends and spending time with my dogs. This helped to prevent me from dwelling by spending too much time on my own.
When my foot started to hurt, especially at the time that it did, I felt very confused. I would constantly ask myself, why me and not someone else? I did not understand why I had to be taken out with an injury whilst at the biggest race of my life so far. What did I do to deserve this? However, overtime, I have come to understand this.
I now see that every journey is different. Nobody is destined to follow the same path as somebody else. Whilst it may not have been the one that I would have chosen at the time, I truly feel that everything works out in the end and this is just part of my journey. Rather than forcing things, injury has shown me to appreciate every step and to go with the flow of my body, because you never know what is coming next for you. If you force anything in life, it is less likely to flow naturally.
Can’t put my finger on it.
Some days I just feel out of sorts. My brain feels up then rapidly down. I don’t feel sad, but I don’t feel happy. I want to cry then I feel fine. These sporadic and unexplained emotions have been difficult to deal with. I have felt confused by my own emotions because I don’t understand what I am actually feeling.
However, I have began to realise that it is ok to feel whatever I am feeling, even if it doesn’t make sense. We are allowed to feel whatever emotions strike us. Therefore, I chose to roll with my emotions, not beat myself up over how I feel, and know that every feeling will pass. It is only natural to go through the motions.
I find it easier to move through the emotions by talking about how I feel. Sometimes the feelings do not make sense inside my mind, but as soon as I put them all out in the open, however disjointed they may seem, they make a lot more sense.
When injury struck, one of the thoughts that flooded my mind was, ‘Am I wasting my life?’. I have chosen to give a lot of my life to running, which can be a gamble, because you never know when you could be taken out with injury. When running was suddenly taken away from, I began to question my decisions and whether I was doing the right thing. It can be risky giving so much to one thing.
However, these doubts that come with injury have only ever done one thing for me. They have always confirmed how much I love this sport and how much I want to chase after my dreams. I am not willing to give up on my dreams, and injury only confirms this. In the end, running brings me an immense amount of happiness, and if this is all it ever does, that is enough for me. No time is ever wasted spent happy, therefore no time spent focusing on running is a waste, regardless of the outcome.
I find that these heavier emotions, such as doubt, always tend to lead towards feelings of happiness. I have started to believe that injury is something to embrace. It is my opportunity to become a stronger and better athlete.
If someone came up to you and said, do you want to become a stronger, faster, and better athlete, both physically and mentally, you’d 100% say yes. Chances are, they would probably then throw an injury at you. If you can get through these difficult moments, you can overcome anything. Therefore, injury is opportunity disguised as upset.
As my injury has progressed, and the end has become in sight, I feel very determined. Don’t get me wrong, some days are still a lot harder than others, but I am SO ready to tackle whatever is thrown my way. I am ready to work hard and chase down my goals, but by enjoying every step of the journey, because as I said, you never know what is going to happen next.
When I feel determined, I know it is important to embrace those emotions, but also to remind myself that patience is key. The route to becoming a great athlete is not just through hard work, but also by being smart and sensible. This is something I have definitely come to learn more and more.
There are a whole host of other emotions that accompany injury, but I hope this blog shows you, that whatever stage of your journey you are at, whether you are going through an injury or not, it is ok to feel any emotion. They are all valid feelings, and they all have a positive to them however uncomfortable they may feel at the time.
Whilst racing isn't on the horizon for me, it is for many of you. When preparing for an upcoming event, whether it be a race on the road, such as a marathon or 10k, or a big cross country race, it is important to consider how you can get yourself feeling fresh for race day.
Here is what I do in the week ahead of a big race to get myself feeling fresh, both physically and mentally.
For a major race, one that I am putting all my focus in to, such as when I was preparing for the Commonwealth Games, I would usually do my last full session about 6 days before race day. This gives me plenty of time to recover ahead of race day and get rid of any lingering fatigue. I then do a reduced/half session 3-4 days before race days. This reminds the legs that the can still move quickly, but it is not enough to fill them with fatigue and tiredness. The effect of this session is to put confidence into you, without making you too tired. I have had many a time where I have felt awful in this smaller session, but raced better than I had expected. So this session is really just about moving the body to feel, and not forcing anything. If you’re feeling slightly tired, ease off. There is nothing to gain at this moment.
I also reduce the length and speed of my runs slightly. For example, from about 5 days out, my runs drop roughly by 5 minutes a day. The day before, I only run for 20-30 minutes depending on the length of the race the next day. Again, this just stretches the legs without tiring them. All of my easy runs are done to feel, so I go as easy as I need to in order to let my legs freshen up. You have nothing to gain at this moment, only lose, so going easy will only be beneficial.
Sleep is important at all times, but even more so on race week. Not only does sleep allow you to recover properly and get you feeling fresh, but it also prevents you from getting run down. Getting run down increases your risk of catching something, or becoming over tired and not recovering properly. Therefore, getting plenty of sleep is vital. Try to aim for 8-9 hours if you can, as this will ensure your body is ready to give its all.
This comes under a similar umbrella to maximising your sleep, but recover as well as possible. When I say this, I mean focus on the 1%’s. I always make sure I am stretching, foam rolling and using the massage gun (if you have one). Some people also like to get a light massage to freshen up the legs a few days out from the race. However, if you have not done this before, I would not recommend doing so ahead of your next big race.
This point is one of the most important of all as it can make or break how ready you are for race day. Fuel yourself with plenty of food, as you’ll need it come race day. Fuel not only allows your muscles to repair and strengthen, but it also gives you the energy you need to perform at your best. Fuel is the leading force behind all my other points as it allows you to sleep well and recover well. It is the energy that fires our engine, and without it, like a car, we can’t run. Therefore, whilst you may be doing less running in your race week, you need to fuel yourself just as much.
Race day will take care of itself on the day. The more you think about it a week out, or 4 days out, the more you are simply wasting precious energy. Overthinking can cause you to become overly nervous and mentally tire you. If you put the race in a box, and don’t open the box until the day arrives, you allow the positive nerves to store up for race day and release when they will have a beneficial effect. Nerves are a good thing, and if you can keep them under wraps until race day, the adrenaline will give you that extra edge, meaning you will be more ready than ever.
Write down confident thoughts.
This is something I did the day before racing at the Commonwealth Games and it made my feel more ready than I ever thought. In a notepad, I wrote down the confident thoughts that I wanted to remember during the race. I told myself that I was strong, that I had more in me than I realised, that I deserved to be on that start line, and that I was ready for whatever the race would throw at me. Doodling these ideas cemented them in my mind and filled up any space where doubt could creep in. Therefore, when I stepped on the start line, only confident thoughts were written in my mind and I felt ready to go.
If you have a race coming up, I hope this helps you prepare for it as well as you can. If it does, drop me a message and let me know how you got on!
I’ve been called a dreamer. I’ve been told that my outlook on life isn’t realistic at times. That sometimes I need to prepare for life to not go as I hope. But why should I? What does this achieve?
If you can see it, you can believe it.
Whether it’s a race, an exam, or something I want to achieve in general life, I am a firm believer in visualisation. If I can tell myself an event will play out in a particular way, and I can actually visualise it happening in my mind, my brain believes it is possible. It allows my mind to develop a confidence it did not previously have as it feels as though it has done it before. If I have gone through the event in my mind before it has actually happened, I feel the outcome is more likely to be as I saw it.
Power of positive thinking.
Some people may not believe in visualisation. They may think it is slightly far fetched or pointless, but it really isn’t. Even if visualising the event playing out positively doesn’t directly affect the outcome, it sort of does. Ultimately, if this provides you with the confidence to dive straight in and be confident that it is going to go as you hope, it has done something powerful. This is the power of positive thinking. Without visualising an event playing out exactly as you’d like it to, you may have doubts flooding through your mind. You may be questioning what if this happens and I can’t deal with it, what if it all falls apart, but if you visualise yourself dealing positively and confidently with those outcomes, you are prepared for anything to happen. As a result, if the outcome you didn’t wish for starts to occur, you have the confidence and strength to deal with it, something that is already making it more likely that things will take a turn for the better.
See it to believe it.
Ultimately, the only way something will ever happen, is if you believe it will. If you don’t, it will never happen, because you have created space for doubt in your mind. This will automatically make you more cautious, and less confident, two emotions that are not conducive to the outcomes you desire occurring. Therefore, if you can envisage everything happening exactly as you want it to, you are already one step closer to achieving it. If you believe it is possible, then it is.
When do I employ visualisation?
Visualisation is an important part of my daily life. It is what keeps me motivated towards achieving my dreams. If each day, I can see myself achieving them, then I am going to keep going when times get tough. This even extends to during injury. Even though I might have reached a hurdle, I can still see my dreams unfolding in the future, therefore I will keep working hard to achieve them, no matter what, in all aspects of my life. When times test you, keep that sight clear and keep dreaming.
What this does do, is keep you positive and confident that your dreams will come true. So, whatever your dream is, keep it in your thoughts at all times, and visualise yourself achieving it. If you believe it, you’re already 99% more likely to achieve it than if you don’t.
If you’re ever called a dreamer, take it as a compliment, because it means you have the belief in yourself that anything is possible.
I’m now at week 9 of injury, and I’ll be honest, it feels like it’s been a lot longer than just over 2 months. The weeks are however ticking by, and I am just taking each day as it comes. I am focusing on MY journey, and no one else’s.
How is the foot?
Last week I went for a follow up scan to check how the fracture was getting on. The good news is it is healing well. The bad news is, it isn’t healed yet. Therefore it’s going to be a little longer before I can get back running.
Mentally I had prepared myself for it to be healed, which I shouldn’t have done. No injury recovery is linear, and 6-8 weeks is just an estimated guess. Therefore it wasn’t ever a given that it would be healed at 8 weeks. It may be for someone who is just looking to be able to walk, but as we are looking to do a lot more on the injury site, I need it to be 100% healed. Once I had got over the initial disappointment, I looked at what I could and couldn’t do, and this is what I’ll be doing for the next month or so.
What can I do?
S&C training. In terms of strength work, I can do body weight exercises, and some exercises with weight going through the foot. I can do exercises such as RDL’s, but I can’t put impact weight through the foot, such as by jumping on it.
In the pool. Aqua jogging continues to be a prominent feature in my life at the moment on a daily basis. Most of my harder sessions are being done in the pool. I find I can get a more running specific session in the pool than I can on the bike and I find I can work all systems at once a lot more efficiently in the pool. I just play around with rep time lengths for sessions, whilst ensuring I have easy days in between to continue to recover.
Spinning the legs. I am also on the static bike in the gym, and I am building this up gradually in order to get a bit more contact to the foot. On a Sunday, I’ll do my ‘long run’ on the bike, just to get a more extended period of exercise in. If it’s a session done and I’m feeling a bit bored, I’ll turn this into a session with longer reps in it.
Be patient. The most important thing I can do at the moment is to be patient. There is no magic fix, and no quick fix. All my foot needs is time, therefore I have to be patient. I’ve set no time frames, no goal races, nothing. Just focusing on healing, then getting back in shape the best (not quickest) way!
What can’t I do?
Due to the follow up scan showing that the fracture isn’t quite healed yet, I am still limiting the amount of weight bearing I am doing on the foot. If I’m walking around for a decent amount of time, I will wear the boot. If I’m just wondering around the house, I’ll wear shoes instead of the boot, as long as I’m not on my feet for a long period of time. If I am just popping to the kitchen or wandering around, I can go bootless, but that’s about it.
The ‘R’ word still doesn’t feature in my life and likely won’t for another month or so. When I look at the journey ahead, I would always rather go an extra week or 2 without running, than risk starting too soon and being back where I started. There is no point in not being conservative. As much as I’d love to run, there is no sense to doing it now, when I still have a broken foot. I’m in it for the long run.
For the next month, I’ll continue to be cautious with the amount of weight going through my foot. I’ll then reassess the situation in a months time and see how everything is going.
Till then, it’s in the pool to keep fit.
I know I don’t only speak for myself when I say my brain can be a messy place. At times it feels like my thoughts are all over the place. I can go from feeling like everything is order to feeling as though my thoughts are spiralling out of control very quickly. There is no clear message they are trying to tell me, but everything they do say is destructive and negative. The longer I ignore it for, the more the negative thoughts build up.
When this happens, it is easy to point the finger and say there is something wrong with my mind and way of thinking, but is there really? When I think about it slightly more deeply, I see it differently. My brain is actually trying to tell me something, and it’s saying it loud and clear.
When my brain feels messy and my thoughts become increasingly negative, it is not it attacking me, it is instead my brain trying to tell me to look at what is going on in my life and make some changes. Slowly, overtime, through speaking to my wellbeing and performance coach (the wonderful Wendy) and unpacking my thoughts, I have come to recognise this. It never gets easier, but I have become more in tune to the warning signs. These red flags manifest in a very chaotic mind.
Trace the thoughts.
When my brain starts to feel chaotic, I find it helpful to trace the thoughts and slowly peel them back to their source. The best way to do this is through talking. Speaking about whatever is going on in my mind helps me take each thought back to its origin. More often than not, they all have the same origin. As soon as I get them out, in whatever order they come, however disjointed it may seem, they all start to make sense. Gradually the pieces of the jigsaw come together and this allows me to recognise what really is going on. It may not seem logical initially, but by getting every worry, stress, negative thought or destructive idea in your mind, out into the open, the real cause will become clear. These don't have to be said in any order. Whatever order they come to the fore in, say them. It might not seem like the right order initially, and it may seem very random, but it won't by the end.
If you do not feel able to talk to someone about your thoughts, or you don't have someone you can throw heavy thoughts at, write them down. Get your messy brain onto paper.
Recently I felt this overwhelming mess in my brain. I had so many worries and destructive thoughts going on and I just didn’t know where they were coming from. I found it a lot to handle. However, as soon as I was able to open up about all of them, and get them into the open, I realised that the problem actually lay elsewhere, and the superficial worries in my mind weren’t actually worries at all. They were just a front for the real problem. This is why it does not matter which order the thoughts come out, because they will all lead somewhere important.
Once I can recognise that my mind is actually shouting at me to trace these thoughts back to their origin, I am able to address the true problem, and start on the path towards feeling more stable.
Our brains are incredibly clever things. They do not think destructively for no reason. For some of us, myself included, this is simply the brain raising the alarm, telling us that we need to address the real problem before things spiral out of control. Try not to ignore the warning signs, because otherwise it will explode at some point, in some way.
Next time you find ourself getting frustrated at the way your brain can be messy and chaotic, listen to it. It is only trying to help you, not push you down.
Be kind to yourself, listen to the signs, and trace them to their source.
As part of my masters at University, I wrote a children’s picture book based on the story of Kathrine Switzer. She was the first woman to ever officially run the Boston Marathon. At that time, it was unheard of that a woman would run a race, let alone a marathon! Long story short, she was attacked during the race by a man insisting she stop because women weren’t allowed to run and she was frequently asked, ‘when are you going to stop?’ throughout the race. No one expected she would ever finish. However, no matter what she was faced with, she persisted. As a result, she became the first woman to officially finish the Boston Marathon and was a vital part in the progression of women’s sport. She paved the way for girls and women like me, to be able to pursue their sporting dreams.
My point with all this is, that we all have to start somewhere, and no matter what our journey looks like, we will have people questioning us. There will always be someone with an unhelpful comment or someone who thinks you will never achieve your goals. However, Switzer shows the power of self belief, because it doesn’t matter what others say about you, what matters is what you say to yourself. You have the power to overcome whatever you set your mind to. It is only the questioning of others that makes you doubt yourself. If you can work to block this out and ignore those who enjoy having an opinion, who knows what you could be capable of. If you feel you should pursue something, then do it, because you’ll regret it if you don’t. People will always have something to say, but you’ll be the one laughing as you experience happiness whilst chasing your goals.
Some people may say that following your dreams can be selfish at times. I’m not denying there is some truth to that, but in order to progress as an individual you have to invest in yourself. It could be interpreted as selfish, but putting time into yourself is one of the greatest life investments. It is quite the opposite of selfish. By choosing ourselves , we are able to help others more than we realise.
If we have the confidence to pursue our own dreams, we might be surprised by how much this helps someone else to do the same. Every journey is different, but this is where the power lies. Every single person, has the capacity to inspire a slightly different audience. Whatever you go through, your struggles, your highs, and your daily battles, someone out there will relate to them, so we can all use our journeys to help others through theirs. Following your ambitions has the capacity to change other peoples lives, just like Kathrine Switzer’s journey did. It was her bravery and determination that gave us the confidence to pursue our sporting dreams. If we have the courage to follow ours and persist through difficult times, then who knows what benefit this could have to future generations.
To read more about Switzer’s story, click here:
I don’t know about you, but I have a mind that is constantly on the go. From the outside it can look like you have it all under control, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Then add injury into the equation, my mind activity multiplies by about 100%, which can be exhausting.
At times I struggle to sit down and focus because my mind just won’t shut off. I always feel like I need to be doing something and be busy in order to occupy my mind. Otherwise it operates at 100 miles an hour, constantly. At times I wish I could just hit the off switch on my mind, but it isn’t as easy as this. I’m used to releasing this brain and physical energy through running, and I do struggle when that’s taken away.
However, I always try to slow my mind down at these times. Sometimes it is the complete opposite to busy that helps calm my mind. Here’s what I try to do when my mind feels a bit too much.
Do what you CAN.
Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, I find it helpful to focus on what I CAN do. At the start of my injury it was just core and a small bit of work in the pool, therefore I focused on working myself hard in these areas. This way you feel like you have done something and get the little boost that exercise can provide whilst not getting too deflated by what you can’t do. When you are so used to training a lot, it can take its toll mentally when it is taken away, so I always try to do a little bit of something, no matter how big or small. A little bit will always make you feel better than none at all.
This is one that you really need to get in to because it acts as a complete form of escapism. If you find yourself a good book, one that is to your taste, you can become so consumed by it that your mind is temporarily taken somewhere else. It is a great hour or so where you can forget about your injury and take yourself to another world.
I find writing a very therapeutic act. If I can put my thoughts on paper, I can slowly unpack them and try to understand where my thoughts are coming from. Writing may not be for everyone, but even so, putting your worries or troubles down on paper can allow you to rationalise them a lot more.
It may sound silly, but colouring is actually incredibly mindful. Just like reading, it allows you to become completely absorbed by the activity. Your mind is able to switch off (and calm down) without you even realising as your energies are redirected elsewhere. You are also consumed by something, so your thoughts are not able to drift away with themselves.
Most runners have had to battle with injury at some point, and if you haven’t, you are doing very well! Whether you have or haven’t been injured, you can relate to the struggle of having running taken away from you. For this reason, every runner understands how you feel.
If you find your mind working at 100 miles an hour, and find it difficult to cope with, I hope some of these might help settle it a little bit.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!