The last six weeks have been really tough emotionally, mentally, and physically. Even though I did “everything right”, I still had a setback three weeks before I was supposed to run the Ottawa Marathon. As a runner, a lot of things are in your control; sleep, nutrition, mental strategies, consistent training, and giving all you have on race day. Overall, this can be very empowering but it also fuels the illusion that perfect preparation is possible and all you really need is “sheer will” to achieve your goals.
With back to back injuries over the past 3 years including an entire year off, it took me three years to be able to train for a Marathon again. I think that a lot of my motivation and satisfaction was strongly attached to the Ottawa Marathon. It’s like I had a “death grip” on it. Towards the end of my twenty five week training program, this attachment began to consume me. I pushed through and “forced” two back to back runs where I should have just stopped, I knew better. I can still vividly remember those two runs, and everything falling apart soon after.
When I realized I was really injured and that Ottawa was out of the question, I was completely devastated. Since most of my satisfaction and motivation was so tightly tied to the Marathon, I literally fell apart. Getting out of bed was a challenge. Then came total loss of appetite and all I wanted to do was sleep. I just couldn’t accept, nor wrap my head and heart around this happening again after all I went through to get back here. A state of chronic dwelling had set in, putting me in a dark pit of negativity. I was looking to blame myself and others, becoming extremely hard on myself. Not to mention I was in a lot of pain at this point and I didn’t know why.
A Turn Around
Once I was sure that my Sacrum wasn’t fractured, I slowly started to turn myself around. Luckily, I have a VERY strong support system. One day, I was reading an article about adversity and it all hit me! Everything that my coach was trying to tell me, everything that I wasn’t yet ready to hear or accept. While being responsible for the things we can control is important, shit will still happen. Things that you would never expect will happen. And the ONLY thing you can do is control how you react.
Personally, I have to mourn things in order to get over them. For me this setback was like a death. A death of one of my running dreams. One that I waited three years for. Although I think it’s fine to allow yourself to feel badly in order to get over something, dwelling in misery for too long only leads to an inability to see setbacks and obstacles as opportunities in disguise. Although I cannot see it now, I am sure that I had to go through this in order to learn something and reach my full potential as an athlete. If I look back at all my past achievements, I had to “fail” a few times before succeeding. I just kept “showing up” until something amazing happened.
There is more to goals than simply achieving them. The journey is what matters most. The people you meet, new opportunities, new doors that open, the ways in which you grow as an athlete and a person, and all the self-discovery along the way. By having a more journey based approach, the process becomes a peaceful one with less anxiety, stress, and obligation. By having less of an attachment to a goal, you are better equipped to cope when things go wrong and you will be able to bounce back quicker. And when you eventually do fulfill that goal, you will have a true sense of fulfillment while shining bright on that day! You will feel happy, proud and empowered and not “relief” that you made it and it’s over.
Thanks so much for reading! 🙂