I want to tell you how I took my cue from a former basketball player, to help me negotiate the tricky terrain of limbo and not get stuck too long, over this past week. Because I think you will understand where I am and how it feels, when one cannot resume training due to injury.
I first wrote about limbo, in my second blog post (“More about Why I Love Ultras”), referring to the place one finds yourself in after the successful completion of an event. Ahem, today I am writing about a different kind of limbo, a place with no euphoric high. This is where I found myself this week, after my less-than-successful attempt at a 100 miler last weekend…if you like you can read all about that experience in my previous two posts.
Coping with injury is the hardest part of training. How ironic, that not training, can be the hardest part of training? It is a bit (or a lot) depressing and frustrating to sit on the sideline and watch others train, while you can feel your hard earned fitness going into decline, all of this without the mental boost of exercise induced endorphin highs.
So this week I was putting some spare time to good use and read up on the successes of Michael Jordan (MJ), the American former professional basketball player and entrepreneur.
Well, old MJ’s quotes gave me the get-up-and-go, to get the hell out of limbo!
Try as hard as you like, after an unsuccessful experience, failure keeps popping up in the mind, sometimes at the most unwelcome moments. So the most important thing to remember is that every event, good or bad, brings opportunities and you can choose what to make of it. Failure is not a tangible thing and we don’t have to make it real, failure is a figment of our imagination. When I felt down, I called on the first in my arsenal of three MJ quotes: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
My second MJ quote, reminded me of the importance of having a fallback strategy in store, which instantaneously will give you direction and support, when you get injured: “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
Let’s take a look at my “roadblock” plan:
1. Healing and recovery:
Initially adopt RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Build a relationship with a reputable therapist (a physiotherapist or the like), who will offer treatment and suggest rehabilitation exercises.
2. Maintain a positive mental attitude:
Acknowledge, accept and respect the injury and your body. Spoil yourself and be lazy for a change, do things you enjoy like sleeping late, socializing late, go for a massage or a movie. Buy a book or DVD on a role model that will inspire you.
This can be tricky as many of us look to our favourite foods for comfort and while a little is fine, we easily cross the line to binge eating and that just makes one feel worse. Reduce your calorie intake, to match the drop in energy expenditure when training seizes. Focus on fresh, high quality ingredients and emphasise unprocessed, alkaline foods. Balance carbohydrates, proteins and good fats appropriately. The role of quality nutrition and adequate hydration are often under estimated in boosting the body and mind during recovery. Spread these foods over small, regular meals which will be easy on the digestive system and so boost the immune system and the body’s self-healing capabilities.
Take inventory of what you can do, be it cycling, swimming, floor exercises or strength training. You will find that cross-training delivers countless benefits like improved mobility and balance, improved posture, decreased risk of injury, increased bone density and a boost to self-confidence and body image, thus reducing the risk of injury related blues clouding your day. Often we neglect cross-training, due to time constraints.
Today I end off with the last of my three MJ quotes. Carry these seven short, light words with you wherever you go, in good or bad times: Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”
Happy running, see you on the trails soon.