Injuries. The journey of acceptance.

While an injury used to feel like a life-ending event to me, I’m wondering if my personal growth and renewed perspective has helped me see it differently. Instead of experiencing despair and paralyzing sorrow, I can honestly say that now if I get injured, my spirit is temporarily dulled.

In the past, injuries would stir up anxiety, depression, and withdrawal. Addicted to running? Maybe. Some would say that being addicted to running is healthy and that it’s better than drugs or alcohol.

“One study found the mood enhancing effects of exercise on your brain is similar to what drug abusers experience. The release of endorphins has an addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of euphoria over time." (McGovern)

In college & post-collegiately, my approach to running wasn’t healthy and created issues in my life related to balance and priorities.

An injury, whether it’s your first, second, or tenth, is a shock to the system. Neurologically and physically, chemical changes take place.. Depending on your team environment, you may feel isolated. Your body changes, you lose muscle mass and you may look different while you are injured. My body image suffered tremendously when I was injured in college, and I developed an eating disorder. Emotionally, simply not being able to do what you love or find joy in, can be extremely disheartening.

So, now that I’m 30 and wise (hehe) I feel the need to share my outlook on injuries. I am choosing to run post-collegiately because I find it a source of joy again. For some, it takes some time to discern reasons to continue running after college. I used to force it. I was hanging on to that lifestyle. You should always ask yourself “why”? Now, 8 years after graduation, I’m the one who takes full responsibility for putting my body through intense training when I’m more susceptible to injuries. It’s almost like we need a disclosure with age.

These days, I am grateful for the ability to see my injuries as a way to learn perseverance and develop character. Back in college, not so much. I felt pressure, I was impatient, and I wanted to please others I learned the hard way. While injuries can happen for so many reasons, I now view them as my body’s way of telling me it’s time to rest. I admire professional athletes who share their experiences through injury. It allows us to know they are human , and probably more like us than different.

Two athletes I admire who are battling injuries and/or periods of not running can teach all of us about having a positive outlook during challenging times.

Abbey D’Agostino & Gabe Grunewald are two, young and courageous athletes. They both display character I admire and want to emulate. These women are role models in my sport. They give me hope and courage.

For more on Abbey’s story: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/abbey-dagostino-speaks-out-acl-tear-will-keep-her-from-5000-meter-final-134512856.html;_ylt=A0LEVjcMs9pXHwkAGaMnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTE0Y2EzbmVxBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDUFJEQ1RMMV8xBHNlYwNzcg--

“For every mindless rehab exercise, ice session, nap, repeat, there is a joy if I have the eyes to see. Today's was a wheelchair expedition with sunflowers and life convos and the best caregiver in the whole wide world: my Mumma.”

For more on Gabe’s story: http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/elite-runner-facing-cancer-for-a-third-time

“So yes, I have cancer. But yes, I am also very lucky. My surgical oncologist is a busy guy so I’m going to get this unwelcome guest removed ASAP, but that might not be for a couple weeks — I will keep you guys posted when I know more. Thank you in advance for the love and encouragement. There’s nothing more I’d like than to get on with the surgery, recover, and hit the track harder than ever in 2017. Love, Gabe.”

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