Dealing With Disappointment

One week out from my first half marathon of the season, I was on my last long training run of 10+ miles. The weather was almost perfect with cool temps and no wind. I was ticking off the miles when I suddenly felt a slight twinge in my calf. At first I brushed it off, but after another mile it started to feel worse. By mile 10.5 when I was done, it started throbbing. Within 24 hours, I could barely walk!

I’m a runner and need races to keep me motivated. These races represent a “big picture” for me; little efforts that lead to one big event. From the gun going off, to running with others, to playing mental games, to crossing the finish line, running the races is what it’s all about for me.

After a day of not walking, I decided a doctor needed to look at my calf. A quick scan showed no tears or separations. A physical therapist was brought in who said it was a very bad sprain and there was no running for one month, minimum!

I was very, very disappointed. I’ve been participating in this particular half marathon since 2011 and look forward to it every year. I was also planning to do another one June 15th, but given the lack of training will need to pass. I am sidelined. What is a person to do?!

Physical injury I can deal with. What is hard is the mindset to deal with disappointment when I can’t do something. I walked out of the clinic in a funk. I knew I had to listen to the physical therapist, as much as it sucked. How was I going to get past this?

First, I allowed 15 minutes to feel sorry for myself. That’s the time it took to drive from the doctor’s office home. Whoa is me! This is so bad! What am I to do? As soon as I pulled in the driveway, I told myself to “man-up mother f$&ker and figure it out!”

I knew sitting around wasn’t an option. I have a 50 mile trail run in September and need to prepare for it, even if that meant finding other exercises to stay in shape. Though this injury slowed me down temporarily, it is just that…temporary. I had to look at the bigger picture.

Knowing what injury I have, I jumped onto Google and found 6 good exercises I could do. Within a few days, I was getting reacquainted with a rowing machine and stationary bike. A couple days after that, battle ropes. Eventually, the elliptical machine. Then, the stair master which then lead to inclined treadmill.

Though not running, these are still good exercises. Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I started to enjoy what I was doing. I can read e-books when I’m doing most of these so have been enjoying catching up on reading. I watched a documentary while rowing 7,000 meters. It was great!

I also talked to a couple other runners who I know that battled through injury. One was a “Debbie Downer” and talked about how bad it was. I didn’t talk to him about it again. The other person, though, said to keep my spirits up and eventually things will get better. I appreciated their encouraging words.

Disappointments come from anywhere. It can happen at home and at work. Most often you can’t control the situation, but you can control your mindset and how you react. Give yourself a little time to wallow (just a little), figure out an alternative and surround yourself with people who can encourage you. Don’t let yourself get into a funk!

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