ASK THE ELITE Sinead Diver competes in the 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m and half-marathon distances. She is the 2012 Australian Half Marathon Champion and 2012 Victorian 10,000m Champion. Sinead is mother to Eddie, and is expecting her second child in September.
So you’re at the top of your game, running like you’ve never run before. You’re notching up PB after PB. Running has never felt better. The most important race of your life is just around the corner and suddenly “boom” – injury strikes.
I read somewhere that coming to terms with injury is like coping with any sort of grief. You go through the five classic stages. At the time I thought this was all a little OTT until I got my first major injury. And I too, found myself rapidly progressing through each stage.
- Denial: Nope, barely any pain. It’s just a niggle. I’d give it a one out of 10 on the pain scale. That bruising and swelling looks worse than it is. It’ll be right in a couple of days
- Anger: This is so unfair! I hate the world. Arrrrrrragh!!
- Bargaining: OK running gods, I swear I will never ever complain about how hard training is ever again. I will follow a strict core-strengthening regime and promise to swim at least twice a week. I will never say anything negative about anything or anyone for as long as I live. Can you just make this injury go away, please?
- Despair: Why me? How did this happen? It’s never going to heal. I’ve lost all my fitness. I will never get it back. My life is over. I may as well curl up into a ball under this duvet and never come out.
- Acceptance: OK, so maybe a break isn’t the worst possible thing that could happen. It may even end up being a positive. I can use this extra time to work on other aspects of my running that I never had time to focus on before. Things like my diet, strength work, flexibility and cross training.
Every now and then, or more often than I would like to admit, I find myself back at despair and that’s when it’s really important to dig deep and think of the bigger picture. I think about how there will be other races, different opportunities ahead and new goals to set. I try to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t. It helps to have good friends and family around me to keep things in perspective. Yes, injury sucks, but like all things time heals, and if you play your cards right you may even end up being a better runner for it.