Thursday, July 1, 2010

Injuries: They're Part of the Game


T1...licking my chops for the bike

Missing a pic. from the crash (someone actually got one)...too gut wrenching though. Btw-can someone tell me why my wife thought to take a pic. of me while on a stretcher?

Cleaning up the road never hurt so bad just to sit up

Back home resting and waiting for surgery

On the way to the hospital

Post surgery...maybe a bit drugged still:)

Kind of blurry...from a phone...this is me cheering people on 2 days later at Eagleman 70.3. I was so looking forward to smashing this race!

I have been writing a bit for Landice Fitness. My most recent article talks about injuries being a big part of sports and how one can overcome an injury and come out the other side ready to get back at it. You can find the article here or below.

Injuries: They're part of the game

Unfortunately, this is a topic I've become all too familiar with the past few weeks. I crashed on my bike during a recent triathlon and broke my collarbone. Injuries are a part of sports. This is probably even more so for endurance sports. Injuries are not fun at all. They are painful, they interrupt training plans, they alter the race schedule, they lower your fitness, they ruin competitive goals on the horizon, and they cause frustration, loss of confidence and possibly even a bit of depression.

Injuries are just another challenge that life throws at us. You get to choose how you want to deal with it. Are you going to embrace it and come out the other end a better person and athlete or are you going to give in to all of the negative things that an injury can bring? I hope you choose the first option.

Most injuries, if not all, are caused by some particular thing. In my incident, I will say, it was about as freak of an accident as there is. Most of the time you will know the cause of your injury, be it from an accident (slipping on ice while out for a run, getting hit on the bike by a car because you weren't wearing a light and it was dark, etc., etc.) or from overuse. Overuse injuries are the most common injures endurance athletes face. The key is figuring out the cause of your injury and taking the proper steps to learn from it so you can avoid a similar thing from happening again.

As you start back with rehabilitating your injury you may find that not only are you fixing your current injury, but you're likely preventing new injuries from occurring and maybe even strengthening other areas of your body that you might not have otherwise had the time to do so. Case in point, this winter Chrissie Wellington (Ironman World Champion) crashed on her bike while training and broke a few bones in her arm, wrist, and hand. Per a recent competitor radio interview, she was still able to do lower body work and spent a lot of time in the gym working on her leg strength, specifically some hamstring work. She said the accident was a blessing in disguise because she was able to work on things she otherwise wouldn't have had the time for. She said her running is as good if not better than it's been and she attributes most of it to that added gym work.

From an emotional view, an injury can be a very good opportunity to sit down and get your priorities straight again. Triathletes are often times letting other areas of their life go, sometimes even when it comes to family. I know for me it has allowed me to focus more on being a better husband. Seek out what areas you have let go and do something to improve it. The more in order you have your life, the better you'll always be able to train and race.

You can re-evaluate why you got into the sport in the first place. There's a good chance you'll go back to training and racing and enjoy it that much more. You'll appreciate just being out there after weeks of being couped up inside. Often times, endurance athletes get burned out from their sport. Motivation has a lot to do with this and an injury can rejuvenate you to want to get back at it more than ever.

Overcoming adversity is a huge part of endurance sports. How often does an event go exactly as planned? It is rare if ever. Dealing with an injury forces you to have to deal with a lot of adversity. Next time you're faced with a big challenge in a race, you'll be able to feed off a previous injury because of how you learned to cope during it. Injuries force you to cope. There is nothing you can do to change it. Eventually you realize that the only way you can successfully approach the injury is to put it in the past and focus on the now and what you can do today to get healthy again. We'd all be better athletes if we focused on the now more.

Bottom line is: injuries stink. I wouldn't wish an injury on any athlete, and I hope I don't have to deal with many more. I will say that I think I'll end up a better triathlete because of the injury I am currently dealing with. I have learned from it as not only an athlete, but a person. I hope you keep some of these things in mind the next time you are injured.

Dave Smith

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