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Lindsey Jerdonek {March 2012}

"The Training Diaries" is a monthly series of posts by Lindsey Jerdonek, a DC Tri Club member, and third-year professional triathlete. In January 2012 Lindsey quit her day job and made the move to racing as a full-time pro triathlete. You can follow Lindsey's Blog where she documents this new endeavor or follow her on twitter.

Forest Gump says that “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” On an ordinary December morning, I bit into one of the disappointing, fruit cream ones that you regret choosing. It is March and the after-taste is still lingering.  

I was doing an incline treadmill workout—on a steeper incline and a faster pace than was advised—and felt a painful tug in the bottom of my foot. Did I shut down the workout then and there? Nope. Did I immediately report these events to my coach? Of course not! Did I complete my long run on a dull foot days later, then wake up Christmas morning without the ability to run just one minute? Yesssssss. I’m sure someone can relate. 

Fortunately, at this point, the lower left leg is allowing me to gingerly increase my running load. With the experience of injury fresh in my mind, I can impart a few suggestions for your consideration: 

Doubt means no.  This is my favorite Oprah line since it applies to many things in life. With injuries, most times you can sense and feel their onset. Listen to them! Ignoring the signs will likely lead you down a dark and uncertain road. If you have the will power, back down. If not, tell a coach, trusted training partner, or anyone with common sense. All three will give you the sound advice you need to hear. 

Seek professional treatment.  If the steps you are taking to get rid of the “problem area” are not working, it’s worth the time and energy to find a professional who can help.  Training partners and the DC Tri Club forum are sources of information for finding physical therapists, chiros, and the like. Additionally, if your hired professional gives your instructions, follow them. 

Let go of your race schedule.  An injury does not care which races you have on your schedule. So often we get stuck on what we ‘need’ or ‘want’ to do, and neglect to give the body healing and recovery time. No single race or event defines who you are so there’s no harm in letting go when the course changes. 

Remove your emotion from the injury. If you describe an injury as frustrating, find yourself lashing out at loved ones, or go for a run and start to cry while dropping eff bombs, you are being emotional. When coming back from my recent injury, my reaction to the early runs is described above. However, I am doing a better job of being logical and unemotional. I record how my body responds to the stimulus (in this instance, running) and report it to my trusted advisors. There is no more heartache, just as there aren’t celebrations. It just IS. 

I hope you don’t have to consult this incomplete list of things to think about when faced with injuries. But if you do, it may help you get back to health as quickly as your body will allow. And to bring this back to the chocolate discussion, cut them in half first.