The Struggles of Injury are Deeper than the Physical
990 Days and Counting
As I write this it has been 990 days since my first injury. 990 days of pain, crutches, surgeries, boots, casts, and frustration. 990 days of trying to stay positive, about trying to keep my head above water. I should be happy I can move; I should be happy I am healthy; I should be glad it’s not worse…. according to other people. To me its 990 days of sitting on the sidelines, of pulling out of runs/races that I wanted to experience. 990 of watching your run buddies hit those goals they wanted and “smiling” as you cheer them on.
Yes, I am lucky: I have my all over health and my situation is not life threatening. However, it is life altering and it starts to take its toll. Add on top of that the constant throbbing that has not gone away and it just keeps wearing you down. “You will come back stronger”, “Running does not define you”, and the list goes on and on. I will say it again…990 days. Hell, by the time this posts I may even be celebrating my comma day.
The mental side to injury is huge: the uncertainty of what is coming the next and the self-doubt. It is hard to move forward when the situation is ever changing. It is hard not to question yourself and abilities. Will you get back out there? Will you get back to where you were? The injured athletes return is always cheered and celebrated, but the mental side is often swept under the carpet. We forget that the mental side of injury is just as important to heal than the physical injury itself. The brain is a powerful tool and your thoughts and mindset can make or break you. 990 days of being told that the end is just around the corner, it is almost impossible to keep your thoughts positive for this long. The finish line keeps getting moved further and further away and it is hard not to DNF the race,
I was “cleared” once again to start back activity and am working with a coach to make sure I do everything right. My first steps on the trails ended in tears. The pain was immense and it just furthered my negative thoughts. With every step, every hill, every rock my feelings of self-doubt keep growing. My run group keeps inviting me to join them, they will hike with me, they will slow down, but I feel like an imposter and cannot get myself to join them: the weak link holding them back. Of course, they do not look at me that way, but after all this time it is hard not to look at myself in any other way.
I am not a quitter, never have been, but you cannot blame me for wondering if this is worth it. Sure, I have other interests and hobbies, I could scrap it all and focus my energy elsewhere. I am mentally exhausted and not sure how much fight is left in me to finish this ultra race I seem to be stuck in. Physically we hopefully eventually heal from injury, mentally the scars are deep and take a long time to recover from. 990 days and counting and no finish line in sight.