Too often, injuries and illnesses can pile up and eventually become the reason an athlete leaves competitive sport. Trust me, this happens far more often than those heroic comeback stories we all love to read about. Finding the balance between training hard enough to be competitive and avoiding the training that can worsen an injury can be incredibly frustrating. The trade-offs are undesirable - Stop training completely, hope your injury heals and sacrifice a year of decent racing, or, try to continue training to maintain some level of fitness, but risk dragging on your injury indefinitely. We are happiest when we can simply train our butts off with nothing holding us back.
I am definitely not the first, nor am I alone in having to deal with lousy injuries. There is no shortage of stories about athletes overcoming adversity that I can draw hope from. I guess I want to write about this to give some insight on what can unfortunately be a big part of an athlete’s career. Injury can have a significant effect on results, and there is so much more to an athlete than what you can gather from a results sheet.
I’m getting better, with the help of my coaches, at finding ways to train as effectively as possible while nursing injuries or dealing with colds. While I’ll always strive for perfect health, living in this balancing act has become the norm for me. After falling short of my training and fitness goals this past summer, I accordingly reassessed my goals for the winter and shifted my focus entirely on the Ski Tour Canada. I accepted that the start to my season might be slower than usual and I made sure to keep my expectations realistic so that I could remain positive and motivated throughout the winter. Identifying the Ski Tour as my goal was instrumental to my motivation, happiness and mental game. It kept me focused and helped me look past the lows.
When I started writing this post, I was feeling rather pessimistic about the state of my injuries. Now, I’ve just come back from my second osteopath appointment, and I’m finding ways to tap back into that optimism I thrive on. Although I’m still in the thick of dealing with a stress fracture, I’ll try to offer some advice to my fellow athletes dealing with injury or illness.
- Seek treatment! It’s frustrating when it feels like the medical system is failing you. If it feels like no one is really invested in trying to get you better, keep searching for the right physician until you find one who cares. Not only is treatment what you need, but it’s so good for your psyche. It has made me feel proactive, and during every treatment I always feel more optimistic about overcoming my injury.
- Come up with some appealing back-up plans! Although I’m nowhere near ready to consider leaving cross-country skiing, I’ve been entertaining the idea of going into new sports. Again, this just helps when I start feeling pessimistic about ever classic skiing again without pain. Right now, although this isn’t the most creative alternative (and would still require my foot to recover somewhat), I’ve been thinking about how I wouldn’t be at all upset if I abandoned being a cross-country ski racer to be a biathlete! (I know it’s still cross-country skiing…let me dream!)
- Always be grateful for what you have! That is a given, but it’s good to remind ourselves of how lucky we truly are.
Without further ado, here is a recap of my races up until the end of February this year!