Sports Injury: a warning sign about your sport?

Some of you may need some motivating this week, as you have been dealing with injury. Yup, I've been there too.

So, let's get some perspective with it. Is is the mark of a bad sportsman? Is the experience a sign that your sport might not be all it's cracked up to be?

I have had a few run ins (pardon the pun) with injury, and this isn’t the first time I have mentioned it on the blog.  I have had moments prior to races where I have experienced those intense concerns of whether that ‘small pain’ is just nerves, a fuss over nothing or a genuine issue that could affect me and my performance.I have also in the past, felt quite embarrassed about injury, as if its something I shouldn’t be experiencing. Surely it’ssign I’ve done something wrong - that I am not up to this kind of thing.

And yet I ran this morning, I ran the day before, and even though sometimes it can be mentally and physically challenging - I'm not about to give up. Am I obsessed with my sport? Do I hate my body to carry on despite what injury risks there might be?

Quite the opposite.

My body is fallible, full stop. So’s every 'body'.  Even the fastest, most athletic and talented sports people throughout history – no matter how efficient, how strong or how capable, are not superhuman. If we work on that premise, then it’s about making the most of who we are with the resources we individually have. If you enjoy running; then run. If skiing, then ski. Horseback riding? Reading? Singing? You have to follow what the things that enrich your life and interest you the most.

Which is where the phrase ‘ get back in the saddle’ comes from. Life can be hard, unpredictable and sometimes, painful.  Sometimes,  no matter how strong or methodical you have been in your training, your body signals a change of plan. But this situation, or even the possibility of it, shouldn’t dictate the passions that should interest you. You may need to take steps to recover, but it doesn't mean you have reached the end of the road with your running.

I take a lot of inspiration from the courage and honesty of others on this matter, who show their true strength in their humility. One is my dear friend Nikki Barnard, one of the toughest and most inspiring long distance runners I know.  Nikki has battled 2015 with a considerable sports injury, having to re think adventures, plans and goals. Both of us have had good chats together about injury.

Photo: Nikki Barnard

Photo: Nikki Barnard

It’s not stopped her though. Give up where her interests lie? Not likely matey - after all, have you seen her run?

All being well, she anticipates running the UTMB in 2016. We are both helping with the running of a training camp in the Atlas Mountains in 2016.

I was also encouraged recently listening to some of the GB Park and Pipe team at the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Event in Manchester. Some of them discussed the time they have had to take out due to injury, humbly admitting the struggles this brings and I found their openness and honesty encouraging and motivating. They still love their sport, they deal with challenges as they approach, and they keep following their passions.

Sometimes I think there is a pressure, especially in sport, to be a shining example of health, fitness and vitality. We all aim for these things, of course. But we have got to be real. Guess what, sometimes I find running mentally challenging. Sometimes, it's the physical struggle.

That's ok. It's all ok.

If you are going through injury – get help. In the form of support from great running communities like #ukrunchat on twitter for example, where so many others can share their advice and expertise on what you might be experiencing. It’s also worth, when thinking carefully about future training, to speak to a physiotherapist who specialises in your sport.

Tim Budd, from Global Therapies is someone I really rely on not just for coaching, but also in times of injury/ trying to prevent injury. As a runner (and a very strong one at that to!) he ‘gets’ it both in terms of physiology, the discipline and the passion of the sport. Seeking professional advice is a must if you are experiencing any pain while running. On his personal blog, he has also written some really insightful things about his own experience with injury.

Sometimes excrement hits the fan- as they say. Sporting injury can get you down, but don’t let it affect your strength – by this I mean, the strength in yourself to be who you are, and to follow your passions and interests.