Lessons Learned: Dealing with Injury While Training for Life

Even when you are just “training for life” to be the best you that you can be, it’s frustrating to have injuries. Sadly, this is a topic I know too much about! I hope my experiences and lessons learned will help you deal with injury or life set-backs!

When a professional athlete is injured, top-notch surgeons, physical therapists, and trainers are called upon to get her back in the game. The game is her job and she has to do whatever it takes to get back to work. But, what about you and me? What about the person who decides it’s time to take control of her life, starts exercising, eating well, feeling good and then – injury? When I began to make changes in my life about 5 years ago, I started working out, jogging, and losing weight. I felt great!

What about the person who decides it’s time to take control of her life, starts exercising, eating well, feeling good and then – injury?

That’s when the first blow occurred. My shoulder was irritated and the orthopedist suggested surgery. What was supposed to be a routine “clean out the joint and you will be as good as new procedure” ended up being a bigger deal. A cartilage tear was repaired and 8 weeks of total immobilization began. Talk about pain!  Wow, I was not expecting that, and I was discouraged. After all, I was just getting in a zone. After months of pain, frustration, and physical therapy, I was back to normal. As frustrating as it was, at least I could still do all the lower body exercises I wanted while healing. I wasn’t completely out of commission.

Lesson 1: Do what you can do even if it’s not all you want to do!

Then, the second blow; I broke my leg while jogging. Wow, again, talk about pain! I went in for surgery and was 8 weeks, no weight-bearing. I was very frustrated, but still went to the gym 3+ times a week and did upper body work while protecting my leg.

Lesson 2: Diligently follow the doctor’s orders for a full recovery!

After that, hip surgery to repair a cartilage tear followed by a period of no weight-bearing. Thankfully, I was back at physical therapy quickly and within 6-8 months was running, climbing, and lifting again. Feeling great and all fixed! Lesson 1 and 2 reinforced!

All three times, I just kept doing what I could and worked like crazy to be a compliant patient so I could get back to normal activities. After all, there was a predictable pattern: wear and tear injury, repair, rehab, back to normal. I can handle that because I have been there, done that and came back strong.

Mid April of 2013, I began having some knee issues. When it flared up, I took some time off of training before getting back to the gym, sure that after resting, I would be good as new! Boy was I wrong. I went to an orthopedist, ready to hear about what I had torn and how we were going to fix it. I knew the drill, knew the pattern, and knew how to follow those directions. When the orthopedist told me there was not any real surgical issue to deal with I kind of freaked out!  I’m not going to lie, I wanted there to be something he could fix so I could get back to doing what I love to do. He suggested physical therapy.

Lesson 3: There isn’t always a quick fix!

I began physical therapy, and progress was slow! I couldn’t run, no leg machines, no squats, no boot camp, no, no, no…! I’ve struggled more with this last injury than with the others in terms of frustration. The first 4 weeks of physical therapy, I saw no improvement, quickly realized I was soft and lacked endurance. I decided to switch to a more aggressive physical therapist and saw improvement.

Lesson 4: Don’t let frustration win; be patient!

I have used my little pity party to be lazy with my eating, feel sorry for myself, get discouraged, get frustrated, and be short with others. It’s not been pretty, and I’m not proud of my behavior.

But, in the middle of it all, I’ve reminded myself that I’m not training for a magazine cover, I’m not training for a fitness or body building competition, I am training for life and life is full of frustrations, unexpected issues, pain, set backs, and disappointment.

I’ve reminded myself that I love the process and the challenge so I will keep on keeping on. I’ll keep making good food choices, keep exercising and training, keep checking my attitude, and keep succeeding. I may not be getting from point A to point B as directly as I’d like, but that’s alright because I keep moving forward.

Lesson 5: I can always choose to have a positive attitude!

If you have dealt with injuries or obstacles in your training, be encouraged and keep doing what you can!  Enjoy the process and remember to make good choices; controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t.

And finally…

Lesson 6: it’s all about the lifestyle!

If you’ve struggled with injury, leave a comment and share how you dealt with it.

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2 Responses to Lessons Learned: Dealing with Injury While Training for Life

  1. Karen August 21, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    It SO frustrating! I am so impatient and I don’t want to take the TIME that it takes to recover from injury. I’m learning. Thanks for the encouragement! There is SO MUCH we can still do, even when we are hurt. I’m grateful for that.

  2. Lauren September 21, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    I love this post. I just had surgery to fix my torn acl 6 days ago. It’s been so frustrating. I was running 5 miles a day, plus doing core and push ups 3 days a week in preparation for army basic training. Then boom one weekend 3 weeks ago with my friends and a trampoline and I hurt my knee 20 days before my ship date. Them turns out I tore my acl and next thing I know I’m in the OR and now can’t do any thing with the OK from my therapist. It’s completely thrown me for a loop and has been frustrating.

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