Gayle Connell, Cat 3 CX and road racer, is the ultimate Optimistic Injured Athlete. You too can move beyond being injury-depressed. Read on.
“Injuries suck. There is no way around it. Any activity in life comes with
an inherent risk; when you are an active person, you sign on for that risk.
So, when you do get injured, because eventually you will, remember the
essence of why you train and race. Rather than bemoaning the injury and the
missed training or forgone races, focus instead on the more important
aspects of regaining health to re-engage in what is hopefully your passion
for sport. Optimism stems from understanding the inevitability of injuries,
not letting an injury (or a sport) define us, and filling the injury time
with other productive endeavors.” Joanna Zeiger”
When I sat down to write this article I searched a few words for ideas
(injuries, racer, etc.) I found a term that stuck with me…the Optimistic
I think that sums me up pretty well right about now. After a major knee
injury nearly 20 years ago I have had intermittent problems relating to that
injury. As much as I try to damage-control future injury (ok, maybe I don’t
really do that so well…#crosscrashes), I know that I will always have
underlying problems and am vulnerable to injury. Unfortunately this year
was not a good year for my knee. I had surgery #4 in June after sustaining
major tears to the very little meniscus I have left in my knee. Although
annoyed because I had been training and racing well, I tried to embrace the
notion of being the optimistic injured athlete to facilitate my mental and
physical healing. I was back in the gym and on the bike pretty quickly and
hoped that I would be able to get myself into shape for cross season.
…And then the inevitable happened. I felt that annoying pain I knew all
too well. In August, yes – only 8 weeks after surgery, I felt more damage
in my knee. This time I did all I could to ignore it for a while. I
trained, I raced, I hid the pain. The idea of going back to the doctor
crushed me. The idea of another surgery so soon crushed me. The cross
season was still in full effect, I was waiting for snow to break out my
snowboard and use my season passes and I have some really cute heels to wear
to holiday parties!
As I await the results of the MRI I just had, I’ll keep my attitude and
perspective positive. I’ll accept the challenge ahead and use this time to
focus on my incredible family and friends. I’ll look at the bigger picture,
not just this injury. I will be the Optimistic Injured Athlete.