I am currently training for the London Marathon. I was so excited to get a place in the ballot after years of failed attempts and numerous rejection tops. My training had just got going after Christmas but soon came to a crashing holt after I injured my right hamstring playing tennis. It had been tight, but I warmed up really well as it was a cold day. Unfortunately, I lunged forward and it went. I just had to hobble off the court. Dealing with injury whilst training for an event can have a big psychological impact and it’s important to take action to stop it impacting on your mental well-being.

I have been injured on a number of occasions, normally when training for something that is really important to me. Learning to manage my thinking well during these episodes has been crucial to my recovering. Below I wanted to share with you some tips that I have found beneficial.

Get professional help

Think about what you can do to help yourself get back to where you want to be. Don’t just give up on your goals. Get some professional help and a progressive rehab plan to get you moving again.

Think about what you can do rather than what you can’t

It can be easy to go into complete despair and think that’s it, it’s all over, what’s the point now I’m injured. If you take off these negative and catastrophic lenses and look instead at what you can still do, this is far more beneficial for your mental well-being. Once you have sought the help of a professional ask them what can you do? What exercises can you still do in the gym. Can you swim? With some adaptations, you can still train and keep your fitness up.

Adapt to the new reality

Training and physical activity for many of us is part of our identity. It’s a big part of who we are and what we do. Our social lives can often revolve around training so if we don’t train we don’t see our friends. It’s a life style and part of a regular weekly routine. When injured this is all thrown out the window. If we let it, injury can have a really detrimental affect on our mental well-being. Exercise makes us feel good and gives us that sense of achievement and when this is suddenly taken away we can feel lost and directionless.

It’s important when injured to accept this reality and adapt. We can’t change what has happened so there’s no point in dwelling on the past and what could have been. Be patient with yourself and take action to create a plan of how you can help yourself. Challenge any learnt helplessness. Moping around feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to help you achieve your goals!

Adapting your expectations. You may still be able to complete an event, but it may be unrealistic to expect a PB. This event may be something you have set your heart on for a while and getting frustrated with yourself will not change this.

Think about:

  • What is your motivation for doing the event?
  • Are you still happy to do this event given the new situation?
  • Are you able to adapt your expectations and reframe the experience as a celebration of overcoming injury and getting to the start line?
  • Can you ditch the watch and just soak up the experience?

It’s about being true to yourself.

Maintain Perspective during injury

Perspective is very important whilst coping with an injury training for an event.

Is it really that bad? Ok I can’t run at the moment, but I still have time to do enough training. Or I can defer it until next year and focus on something I can do.

Perhaps you are unable to train with your friends due to injury. Think about how you can still see them. For example, meet them in a cafe if they are heading that way on a bike ride, go and volunteer instead at events so you can be there to support and cheer everyone.

Challenge a fixed mindset related to coping with injury

A fixed mindset is looking at the end goal, comparing yourself to others, not doing something because you fear failure. For example, not doing an event because you know you can’t get a certain time as you’ve been injured. By developing a growth mindset, you can start enjoying the event and commending yourself for getting to the start line. A growth mindset is about embracing the experience and savouring each moment, spending time just enjoying it rather than chasing a time and comparing yourself to others. Remind yourself what you love about your sport.

Overcoming injury is both a physical and a mental challenge. When faced with a difficult situation, this is when you learn most about yourself. This can be your defining moment to re-evaluate what is important to you and why you do the sport you love.

Learn to process your achievements

We learn far more when things don’t quite go to plan than if they went smoothly all the time. Think about what you have overcome, all the obstacles you have jumped over. This will benefit you in the long run both in your sporting life and also in life generally. Think about what you would say to someone else who was injured and was overcoming lots of hurdles to compete again.

Mental toughness, grit, determination are the things that keep us going. You may be super fit and great at the sport you do. However, without the mental strength and the tools to maintain a positive mindset even in the most difficult of situations, you will find it harder to achieve your goals.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so long as you process the experience in a helpful way.

If you are struggling to manage your thinking whilst injured, please get in touch, I can help.

Useful links to get your training back on track that I have personally used and would highly recommend:

Edge Physio Physiotherapist in Sudbury, Suffolk

DB Sports Therapy Based in Long Medford Suffolk

Changing Paces Run Coaching Virtual run coaching to help get your running back on track

Personal Training Centre Sudbury

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