Injuries suck. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t
One Friday afternoon in late November, a week after I injured myself running into the water racing for Australia, my world as I know it came crashing down. Now that sounds a little bit dramatic and now that I reflect, those initial thoughts certainly were overly dramatic. That Friday afternoon the surgeon told me he needed to operate on my foot and would that I have to pull out of the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series, the pinnacle of my racing season and where I was currently sitting as series leader. My whole focus, dreams and goals for the season felt like they had been derailed.
I know that there are so many people worse off than me, however, I would like to share my story hoping that other injured athletes can be inspired to take small steps towards being better each day and to exercise for happiness.
I will recover and I will be back racing stronger than ever.
I was the Captain of the Australian team, my greatest honour yet. Our team had a job to do, to win the World Surf Life Saving Championship in Adelaide. We knew it was going to be tough. We had been selected because we were the best in our country so we all felt pressure to achieve. In the first race of the day I stood on something running into the water and felt my foot give way. There was no substitute athlete so the physio taped up my foot and I raced through pain for two days. I knew I had to step up and race for points and my country. I found out later I had done a Lisfranc Separation injury which would require three screws to keep my foot together to allow ligaments to heal. I wouldn’t have changed anything but it was the most painful racing I have ever experienced. We won and it was so overwhelmingly satisfying, yet a little bittersweet for me.
Endorphins are real
After the operation when I was in bed most of the time, I struggled to concentrate on work or study because the medication that I was on made me feel foggy. I felt useless and became frustrated with my situation, mostly because I didn’t feel like I was achieving much each day nor was I making the most of this so called precious down-time.
As an Exercise Physiologist I work with clients who have mental health issues and I prescribe exercise as a form of therapy and medication. I am aware of the stats and case studies - the evidence is strong, however it wasn’t until I experienced this first hand that I truly believe in the power of endorphins.
A week and a half post-surgery I went to the gym, my happy place, with my ever inspiring gym coach Wade. I hobbled around slowly on crutches with Wade handing me some weights. The first session was basic as I was still very fragile. However the after effect was awesome! I felt so happy, like I could take on the world and achieve anything.
Endorphins… they are real, go chase them.
Taking the next steps
I came to a realisation that the situation I was in was only temporary. I had been forced into a rare period of my life where I had the opportunity to sleep in, have clearer thoughts (because I’m not physically exhausted all of the time), spend more time with my friends and family, and start exploring what my life after sport might be like.
Make the most of whatever situation you find yourself in. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
I made a plan. I am definitely a routine kind of girl. My new routine included some basic training, reading, learning, mentoring and speaking to young athletes, writing coaching plans and working on some side projects. Training now had a new spin to it, rather than focusing on performance, I was focusing on maintaining muscle, general fitness, muscle memory and happiness.
Chasing my next goals
Upon writing this I am still on crutches and in a moon boot. I still won’t be able to race for a few months. I am doing everything I can to keep myself happy and progress my strength and fitness - swim, gym, rehab, eating well, resting, reflecting and learning.
Focus on what you can control.
I love my sport and I appreciate it even more when I am forced to take a break. When I have my screws taken out I will be ready, more than ever, to progress back into training and experience that thrill of racing again!