You’ve signed up for your race, you’ve written up your training plan and you may have even started training. But then, you get injured. You feel worried, upset and disappointed. You start to question how long your recovery will take, and whether you can continue to train or even take part in the race.
These are the words and experiences of many athletes (pros and hobbyist) at some point during their sporting careers. And although it can be very disappointing, keeping the following in mind can ease the mind and body during the recovery process.
Take a little bit of time to rest and consider getting a professional opinion
You may have overloaded your muscles over the last week and now your body is giving you a little reminder to take a break. This is ok and could resolve any niggles that you may have. A week off will not undo all of your hard training to date – don’t worry! It could even improve your training quality the week after!!
If the pain is not subsiding, or you are having sharp pains during certain movements, then head to a physiotherapist/doctor.
Focus on elements that you may have neglected during your training
A lot of the time when we are training for an event, we can often overlook strength & conditioning and mobility work. This can be due to a lack time as you may feel that a yoga session isn’t going to help you become a faster runner. You may feel that doing glute bridges is a waste of time because you could be out on the bike instead. But often, neglecting these exercises can create weaker muscles which consequently can result in less strength in muscles that you use for the swim/bike/run. These muscle imbalances could also have been the root cause of your current injury.
So if you are being told to reduce or even stop your training plan and to focus on rehab, then spend this extra time working on building your strength, reducing or eliminating any muscles imbalances and/or work on your flexibility. Focus on the other important parts of sporting performance that usually get pushed to the wayside. This will set you up to be a stronger athlete once you have recovered and will build your base back up again, reducing the likelihood of getting the same injury again.
Don’t rush your recovery and take solace in the fact that you will be stronger after rehab
I know, you just want to get back out there again and practice your swimming again. You want to jump of your bike and put on your running shoes and do a brick session. But don’t rush your recovery! If you start upping your training too soon, you could end up slowing down your overall recovery time. If it helps, just stop looking at your Strava feed for a while!
Adjust your expectations
This one might be a tough pill to swallow, but consider whether it is safe for you to do the race. It might be a bit disappointing having to give up a race that you planned to do, but consider whether it is worth risking either a longer injury recovery time, the possibility that you might not be able to finish the race or even the possibility of doing permanent damage to yourself by doing the race. Remember, that although you might be very disappointed to have to pull out of a race, the majority of us are not professional athletes; our livelihoods are not on the line here by missing a race. Even professional athletes will pull out of a race to protect their ability to perform for the long term. So if your injury does mean having to pull out of a race for this year, remember, its better to make sure you are fit and able to take part in future races than take part this year and permanently injure yourself.
Yes, not being able to take part in a race can be very frustrating, but remember, that even elite athletes get injured sometimes and may need to take time off from training. Don’t worry, better racing days are to come. Look after your body and give it the rest it needs and then this missed race will only be a small blip in your future sporting endeavours! Get well soon my friend 😊