Embrace Forward Motion

Wellness, fitness & personal growth

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DO’s and DON’T’s of Overcoming Injuries: A Personal Discovery

Injuries are unexpected and inconvenient. As a typical 20-something, I sometimes feel like I am invincible. Nevertheless, a recent injury put a halt to my duathlon training. I present to you DO’s and DON’Ts, which I’ve discovered during my recovery, of overcoming injuries, as well as a narrative… because who doesn’t love a good injury story?

Two weeks ago I was out on a training run. Diverting my attention to the side, I stepped where the sidewalk meets the grass. Ungracefully, I fell and sprained my ankle. As I watched my ankle swell up and felt pain in my arch, thoughts of “well, that was stupid” and “there goes my race” flooded in. First lessons:

  • DO watch where you’re going when running.
  • DON’T put yourself down. Recognize mistakes and move past them.

After limping back home a few blocks, I dug up my ankle brace (saved from a previous ankle sprain and foot fracture on my other foot) and RICE’d up my day– Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. And of course, sadly canceled plans and sat at home at a loss of what to do.

  • DO RICE–Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate–the injured limb.
  • DO keep braces, crutches or other injury “accessories”– you may need them again.

A week went by. I used my ankle brace daily, and a crutch the first few days. After talking to trainers and runners, hearing a few “I-wish-I-would-have-taken-care-of-my-injury-when-it-happened-because-now-I’m-doomed-with-weak-joints” stories, and recognizing that I intend to continue running, I set up a visit with the podiatrist.

  • DO go see a doctor if the injury is not improving, getting worse, or you want to figure out what’s wrong exactly and treat the injury accordingly.

Doctor’s advice: Ankle ligaments will take six weeks to heal completely, and the plantar fasciitis should be relieved with stretching. Until then, no running, no biking, no race. Of course I tried to bargain on the biking, but she remained firm with her answer. After giving it some thought, I decided: I’m planning on keeping a well-working ankle for the next 70 years… relatively, six weeks is not that long.

  • DON’T rush your healing time. Cutting off recovery and rehab time will highly increase chances of reinjury.
  • DO think of your recovery time as an investment: one extra week now may translate to an extra year for your limb to properly work years down the road.
  • DO recognize your body has limits. Respect them.
  • DO be realistic about safely resetting goals.

If I had to pick my top two lessons from this experience, these are it:

  • DO stay positive.
  • DO embrace this time as an opportunity to explore new areas of personal growth and wellness.

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“This is Just Part of My Day”

Once I was at a teaching workshop, where one teacher asked another in front of the group, “How do you calmly manage your students to follow directions every day?”

To which he responded, “I tell them ‘This is just part of our day’. This is the plan for the day, we will carry it out together and move on.”

There I was thinking I was simply learning about classroom management, when I suddenly encountered words of wisdom that had the potential to extend way beyond the classroom. From that moment on, the line “This is just part of my day” saved me whenever I had to complete unappealing activities, whether I had to run in chilly rain during training or to interact with someone who was uncooperative.

Recognize What Needs to Get Done

To apply this concept to our daily lives, it is important to identify which activities are essential MUST-DOs, such as working, taking care of family, affording housing and food, or taking care of ourselves.

We may be committed to more seemingly optional responsibilities, such as volunteering, training or attending social functions. Regardless of how we feel about them or how accountable we are being held, we must work to carry out these activities.

Think: “This is Just Part of My Day”

This affirmative statement allows you to take emotions away and focus on the facts: this needs to get done today. “This is just part of my day” can serve as your coping mechanism to get you through the day:

  • Accept the day. Being open and accepting of your day will take you on the path of least resistance. Sometimes it is better to go with the current than to battle upstream.
  • Embrace the day. Adopt a positive view. If you’re going to do something, might as well enjoy it.

Look Ahead

“This is just part of my day” is a coping mechanism, not a solution. If you find yourself needing to “get through the day” every day, you may need to reassess certain responsibilities you have and find alternatives that make you happier. If you will simply use this to get you through the sporadic rough days, then you are right on track!

Live Now

I’m a strong believer of taking things day by day, but I also value envisioning what is, or what I would like, to be ahead. I encourage you to try moving in this manner with a direction in mind.

Now, there is a plan for the day, so let’s carry it out together and move on. It’s just, and only, part of our day.