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.
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I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!