There have been many times in my life where I have found myself in a situation where I have felt like the odd one out. This can leave you feeling quite isolated, and cause you to question yourself. There were many times, and still are, where I question if I am doing the right things, or if I should be doing what others do. Fortunately, I have always been quite sure of my own decisions, regardless of what others think. I know what I enjoy in life, and if that is different to most people, I am ok with that. In fact, I quite like it.
However, it is not easy to feel ok being different to those around you. Whether you have recently made changes to your life, or have always felt a little bit like the odd one out, I am here to help you realise, there is no such thing as the ’odd one out’. We are all unique, and the most important thing in life is to be yourself. If those around you don’t agree with your behaviours, there are others that will, you just need to find your people. You do YOU.
At times I have felt like I am the only one who…
I don’t drink, for many reasons, but I can understand why people may enjoy having a drink when out for dinner or meeting up with friends for a few drinks. However, society has normalised drinking to the extent that if you don’t do it, you’re deemed not normal.
I always believe in letting people be. They can do whatever they want to do, it’s their life. I am frequently asked, why don’t I drink, or told, go on just have one, but no one ever asks someone, ‘why DO you drink’ or says, go on, just have water tonight. If you don’t drink, whatever reason that may be for, and sometimes feel like you’re the only one, you are not! There are so many people who don’t drink, for so many different reasons, but the reason you don’t realise this when you go out to a bar with your friends, is because they either aren’t there, or if they are, they don’t want to make it obvious they’re not drinking. You be you, and don’t feel you have to do something just because others are.
…spends their weekend running.
To me, a weekend of training and food, is the ideal weekend. A good run followed by brunch is the best thing I could ask for. I also know plenty of people who feel the same. There are a lot of runners out there who do plan their weekends around running, you just need to find them, and soon enough you’ll realise you’re not the only one who enjoys this.
If those around you find it weird that you prioritise running, exercise, or any other sports when it comes to your weekend, because you ENJOY it, remind yourself that you don’t need to apologise or justify your actions. Everyone is entitled to spend their time in the ways they most enjoy. We don’t need to pass comment on every choice someone else makes, so if they do to you, don’t feel the need to explain yourself.
….doesn’t enjoy nights out.
There are a lot more people who don’t enjoy nights out clubbing than you realise. Sure it can be fun when you’re with your friends, but it’s just not my cup of tea. The first few weeks at university I forced myself to go, and because everyone there was having a great time (obviously, the people who hated it weren’t there!) I felt like I was the weird one for not enjoying a second of it. I continued to go a couple more times, before asking myself, why was I putting myself through something I hated. The only answer I had was, because I felt I had to. I thought it was what uni students did. I then realised, I didn’t have to do it, so I stopped going! I’d still join everyone before they went out, as I enjoyed that social side of it, but when they left, I went to bed, and had had a great evening. I stopped myself from doing something I hated just for the sake of it. As a result, I had a much better time, and no one even realised I wasn’t there!
All of these can, speaking from experience, make you feel like a bit of an outsider. Whether you only experience one of them, it can have an isolating effect, but it doesn’t need to.
Even if you sometimes think you are the only one, I can guarantee you are not. There are so many people in this world, who do/don’t like the same things as you. It’s not weird, its not abnormal, it just isn’t what some of those around you do. Your people are out there, you just need to find them.
These are only a few things that people may feel alone for doing, but I hope they show you that whatever you do, you’re not alone!
The word that has been removed from my vocabulary for quite some time now is ‘racing’. Since the start of my injury, it has been put in a box at the back of my mind because I knew it wasn’t in the imminent future. Therefore, I chose to forget about when I would next be racing and take each day as it came, in order to erase any form of pressure. However, in the past couple of weeks, the word has slowly crept back into conversation, and we are finally able to make some plans for the coming months.
Returning to racing after injury is exciting, but it can be quite a daunting prospect. There are so many questions you can ask yourself, and struggle to find the answer to. For one, it is difficult to know when the right time is. Ultimately, there never is, or will be, a right time. The first race back will always be a shock to the system, but it is so important to get back out there, bust off the rust, and I can’t wait for the moment I can do this.
How will I approach it?
I think you can talk a lot about how to approach the first race back, and analyse your thoughts, but in the end, your reaction to race day will come naturally and there is only so much preparation you can do.
That being said, we can control how we think about it in advance. My mindset ahead of racing, whenever this will be, is a very relaxed one. My main goal is to get back out there, relax, and just focusing on racing the race. There is absolutely no pressure, because I have nothing to lose. I have no idea of where my fitness lies within in a race, and it does not matter. The first race is needed to give us a gage of how training is going. I feel excited by the prospect because whilst training gets you fit, nothing gets you race fit except racing itself. Therefore, in order to get spurred on through training, and make more fitness gains, I need to get back racing.
Thus, I am racing it with the mindset that I have lots to take away from it, regardless of how it goes.
When will I know I’m ready?
Put simply, I will probably never feel ready. If I constantly ask myself, ‘am I ready?’ I will only feel like I’m not. I will always find areas I could be fitter in, but at some point I have to just take the plunge and get back out there. There is obviously a time when you definitely aren’t ready, which is when you have just returned to training post-injury or if the comeback is slightly bumpy (which is ok), but once training has been consistently ticked off for a little while, and your base fitness has returned, the next race could be planned.
Am I excited?
Absolutely! It has been nearly 7 months that I have sat on the sideline and watched races going on. It is only when you are forced out of the sport and racing is not an option, that you realise how much joy it brings you. I love the race day nerves and apprehension more than I ever realised, and even the races that don’t go to plan, I love the determination they place in me. Therefore, I really miss the way racing makes me feel, and the way it guides training.
Nothing is set in stone.
When returning to racing, the main thing to remember is, nothing is set in stone. Races can be moved. I have pencilled some in my diary, and have a few in mind, but if the comeback gets bumpy, or I really don’t feel ready, they first race date can be moved. There will always be another race, so I can always wait a little bit longer. This is not a sign of defeat or failure, but instead an act of maturity. If the goal post needs to be moved, move it, don’t force yourself to be ready and then do more damage than good. Patience is a good thing, it isn’t a sign of weakness.
Whether you’re interested in how I’m approaching racing post-injury, or you are getting ready to race after an injury, I hope this blog has been an insightful one.
As I’ve written about in previous blogs, injuries, dips in performance, and life challenges, are all opportunities. They are chances for us to learn from our mistakes and make positive changes.
That being said, no change is straight forward, and it takes more than one day to make a permanent change. We are only human, therefore can be guilty of falling back into bad habits at times. I put my hands up and say, learning from mistakes is not a linear process. We can stumble and slip up without realising. I did this last week.
One thing I vowed to change post-injury, was my level of honesty when it came to how I physically felt. I decided that in order to progress as a healthy and strong athlete, I needed to put my hands up and honestly communicate when things weren’t quite right. No matter how small or insignificant something feels, I realised that I need to report it to my coach as soon as it appears.
He is very clever, and an incredible coach, but he cannot read my mind. For this reason, the only way to ensure we manage any discomforts, however small or big they are, is by me communicating them. Last Friday, I found myself falling back into the bad habit of ignoring something that didn’t feel quite right.
I woke up with a slightly sore ankle the morning of a session. I said to myself, I’ll see how it feels after my session, and then I’ll let my coach know how it felt. Sounds reasonable? But it’s NOT. This is where I have gone wrong before, and is exactly what I said I wouldn’t do. I should’ve immediately reported it to my coach, just to make him aware, even if it didn’t change anything. It is always better to be on the safe side, and doing a session when something doesn’t feel right, isn’t always the smart way forward.
In all honesty I didn’t think it worth reporting as it had only just come on. I didn’t even see any error in my way of thinking and you may not either, but this is where I have gone wrong before. I have learnt that there is no benefit in ignoring things that don’t feel quite right, even if they only appear for one day. Having to adjust training due to acute niggles, or deviating from the initial plan because you feel a bit tired, is not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of strength. This is how progression is made and injury is avoided as you back off when proceeding at full steam ahead could do more damage than good. Ploughing on is not always smart.
Changes don’t happen overnight and mistakes aren’t learnt from without some disruption. Whatever change you wish to make, you will have to stumble and get back up again multiple times, before you can fully learn.
The most important thing, is that you continue to recognise where you went wrong. Whilst I didn’t report the niggle straight away (when I should have done), I was able to look back and see where I went wrong. Therefore I HAVE learnt, and I am evolving from my mistakes, but it is ok to stumble every now and then. Stumbling is not failing, but instead part of the learning process.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!