How to Use Injury to Your Advantage
Injuries happen, that is sport - it's how you deal with them that defines your recovery more than what the injury is. Read on to see how you can turn an injury from having a negative impact on your season to having a positive one.
As any sportsman or sportswoman will tell you, injury is almost inevitable when you play sport. As Scott, our Food and Beverages Manager in Portugal says: "I avoid running injuries quite simply by not running!" This approach works, of course, for the triathletes amongst us, it just isn't realistic! Therefore, picking up an injury is going to be part of the life cycle of being an athlete. Fingers crossed it can just be a small niggle, and it isn't anything too serious. However, your approach should be the same.
So you are Injured...Now What?
Injury sucks for anyone and the biggest limitation to you returning fit and strong will be yourself. The hardest thing that athletes have to cope with is that suddenly, more is not the solution...you suddenly lose control and in some instances can feel that you lose your identity as an athlete. It is really important to remember that there is always one thing you have control over and the one thing that determines your recovery times is your attitude. Keep a check of your attitude and you will find yourself not only back to training swiftly, but also stronger than before.
Take Advantage of the Situation
Once you have your attitude focussed, it is now time to re-address what you can do. One thing is clear, no one is trying to stop you from doing sport, everyone is trying to get you back into the sport as quickly but as safely as possible. They will give you exercises to improve your injury, but have a conversation with them about what else you can do. This conversation shouldn't be focussed on speeding up recovery, rather ensuring that you maintain fitness or address other possible weaknesses. Better yet, get your coach to have the conversation with the physio to make sure that they set appropriate work for you to do. Ask the physio and the coach to come up a with a plan for you that both rehabilitates the injury and at worst holds your fitness where you are at, though probably improves efficiency and strengthens other parts of your system.
Now is a great opportunity to work on other areas that have caused issues in the past or you know could do. If you have fallen off your bike and dislocated your shoulder, why not work where you can on stability and proprioception and foot strength? If you can't get outside on a bike, modify your turbo to suit what you can do. If you can't lift a bar, look at other ways to keep strong in the gym which is safer environment than outdoors!
In many instances "injury" signifies the literal end of the world for an athlete. However, with some positive attitude and some perspective, this could be the time where you focus on other very important areas of your conditioning that previously, you haven't had time to focus on. Or perhaps, it allows you to focus a little bit more on family, work etc. which, at this time of year would give you more time when you get back into the race season.
Injuries never happen at a good time, they usually happen just after you have "never felt better". So don't worry about it! With the right mindset, this need not be a depressing spiral of despair, but rather one of your more pivotal moments in your training career. A step sideways is not always the most obvious step forwards but most of the time it actually is.