Last week I was contacted by a FIT reader who had achieved a huge sporting ambition just a few months ago. She is very ambitious and usually very motivated but her update highlighted the reality of where she is just now. A persistent injury was denying her the positive endorphins that running gives her and her mood was sad. She wrote looking for advice on how to deal with setbacks.
Whatever is the reality is the reality. I have learnt that dwelling on it is futile. I learnt this from a man called W Mitchell. We must immediately focus on the attitude we are prepared to bring to the table.
Injury has probably affected us all at some time. I recall being in a similar cul-de-sac five years ago. I turned to swimming and cycling. I still missed running, but it definitely helped.
If you can't run, can you walk? Turn a leisure walk into a sub-15-minute-per-mile pace. What about rowing, cycling, spinning, aqua jogging, weight training, mountain climbing, hiking or Pilates? Perhaps one of those might offer a route to those endorphins.
W Mitchell has been a big role model since I first heard of him nine years ago. He has had two huge health challenges thrown at him in life. He had been burnt severely and – in a second accident – paralysed for life. His words of wisdom have rung in my ears since: "Some people use things that happen to them as an excuse to stop. We can use them as an excuse to succeed, to learn a new way to do things".
Focusing on the positives is not always easy but it is there to be harnessed whenever we are ready to embrace it. If we have embraced it before, we have the power to do it again.
His parting words were, "before these accidents there were 10,000 things I could do. Now there are 9,000". What incredible positivity in the midst of such challenges.
In 2009, my injury eventually got sorted. One solution was a decision to change physio. I am not suggesting that everybody needs to do this but it was the catalyst for me. Perhaps the lesson is to never stop looking for solutions to improve your situation.
Putting things into perspective is something I have learnt to do. A few weeks ago, I saw a great poem written by an 11-year-old. It was highlighting a Third World charity fundraiser and told of his previous mindset of having to carry a school bag every day. Then he learnt of a young girl who had to carry heavy buckets of water for several miles each day just to keep her family alive. His poem narrated an awakening to put his own daily challenge into perspective.
My FIT reader friend did have a chink of light: she was making a little progress – it just wasn't fast enough for this very ambitious lady. Wise words from John Wooden, a man voted the most successful coach of all time in the US, come to mind: "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." Thankfully, this lady has a great place to start. I wish her well.
Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete. www.gerryduffyonline.com