Unfortunately, injuries are fairly commonplace in endurance sports, with around 80% of injuries in triathlon being caused by running. We will talk about injury prevention in later blogs, but here I want to focus on the psychological element of being injured and being unable to train. Endurance athletes banter about partners who are injured being a 'nightmare' to live with, but actually it is a serious issue. What happens to athletes when they can't train, and how do they cope with it?
I want to introduce you to Lora Blann, a fantastic runner at Altrincham & District AC. Lora ran brilliantly throughout the 2017/18 Cross Country season, culminating in her finishing as 2nd Senior Woman Overall in the MACCL series. Lora is a mum of two young boys, who epitomises the spirit of our Smiling Tri Coach philosophy. She balances her run schedule with the school run, after school and weekend activities and everything else that goes along with being a busy person!
Lora had high hopes for her summer season, until she fell and broke her shoulder blade.....
I caught up with Lora shortly after this happened, and asked her if she would write a guest blog to share her experience.
Lora called her blog, "Rantings of an Injured Runner" so here goes....
Every injury is an opportunity…………
I love running. In fact I love it so much that my children and husband ask if I love them as much as I love running. Sad I know that my hobby is so important to me but it is “my thing”, it keeps me sane, challenges me, allows me to be competitive and buys me much needed head space. And therein lies the problem, I now haven’t run since Good Friday, 3 weeks and 3 days to be exact since I threw myself on the floor and fractured my right shoulder blade.
Disaster. Or is it? A chance meeting in the street with the brilliant physio Doug Jones of Altius Healthcare helped to shift my mindset. By the time I saw him I was 10 days in and desperate for an endorphin fix. Waving my injured arm at him I demanded to know when I could run again. I believed that if I asked enough professionals I would get the answer I wanted which was well, yesterday. 6 weeks he said. What? Surely not! Really? To which he replied “ Every injury is an opportunity, we will make you stronger, you will be a better runner for it. We’re putting you to work.”
This is where I had been going wrong, I was focusing on all of the negatives. After a long cold XC season slipping through deep sticky mud I was desperately disappointed not be able to use all of the the hard work and consistency to chase spring road race PB’s . The sun had just arrived, I wanted to run in circles with my tribe with the sun on my face. However, taking time to reflect I realised that yes this is an opportunity and here’s why:
The truth is I have been running with hip and IT band issues since December. Reluctant to take time out and address the niggles properly I have carried on, convincing myself they would just go, obsessively following my training plan. My hip would ache to the point where it woke me up at night. Forced to rest not surprisingly things are much improved. Which leads me onto the next plus side of being injured.
Stretching and strength work- I know they are essential however when trying to fit mileage in every week around family commitments, after school clubs, and life in general they are the first things to go out of the window. Not anymore, my yoga-mat and I are now best of friends, if my shoulder is to recover properly and I am to avoid secondary problems longterm I need to make time.
Running isn’t the only form of exercise- I’ve joined a gym. No! I hear you cry. Desperate times desperate measures but actually it's surprised me. Well out of my comfort zone I have struggled to find the on/off button for the cross trainer ( they don’t have one) and watched sweat drip down my nose 20 minutes into a 45 minute spin class. I’m doing all the things that I usually steer clear of for fear of ruining my legs. Anybody would think I was Olympic standard, no I’m just an average club runner who has become totally and utterly obsessed. Which leads me on to my final point.
Time out to reflect, re evaluate and refresh both mentally and physically. I CAN survive without a run everyday. I just need to be more open minded and creative about how I get my exercise and mental well being kicks.
Hopefully I am now over half way through, new trainers have been ordered in anticipation of my first gentle trot out. Anxious and a little nervous about how much fitness I will have lost I am also probably blissfully unaware of how very challenging returning to form following an injury will be.
It is now a few weeks since Lora wrote this blog for us, and I am delighted to report that she is back running, taking her time to ease into it sensibly, and feeling confident that she is coming back stronger and more able to reach her potential.
Thank you Lora for taking the time to write this blog, and we hope that you can update us on your progress towards the end of the summer!