How Injuries Make You Stronger, Smarter, Better

They’re not injuries, they’re just lessons that really hurt.

My first week of running I shredded my knees. The plan was to run 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I thought that was starting light and I was wrong. It wasn’t light enough for my body at the time and I turned one week of running into two weeks with braces on both knees.

And it was emotionally hard. Your first injury can feel like you’re a born failure. Especially if you’re like me and inclined to believe you’re a born failure anyway and, as I was, coming off a string of real life failures in other areas.I cried in bed one night because I couldn’t run, the most simple and primordial human thing. Somewhere right now, I thought, toddlers and amputees are running and I can’t even do it.

But I had to recover. Wallowing in sadness or not I had to get to place where I could stand pain-free. You can’t walk away if you can’t walk. which turned out to be helpful because I used to have a problem of giving up on things at the first hurdle. I always wanted to get to the outcome, to the end, to the goal and the reward, and if it was going to take too long then fuck it. Now I needed to begin by focusing on the beginning, I had to get into the process not just through it.

I had no choice but to learn about compression sleeves, glucosamine, and rest days, and later about omega 3s and 6s and inflammation. But unknowingly I also learned about how to emotionally deal with injuries.

Every injury is an opportunity. And you don’t have to wait until you’re injured to take advantage of it.

If I see a video titled Elbow Pain From Pushups? or something, I watch it even though I’ve never had elbow pain from push ups. But I have elbows and I do push ups so there’s got to be something I can learn, even if I just learn that I’ve been doing it right. Most injuries aren’t acute, they come from doing things slightly wrong over time. I’ve seen people doing things slightly wrong, backing off when the pain comes, resting a while, then going right back to doing it slightly wrong. At that point an injury is blessing because rest isn’t a cure for stupid. Just like in life some people never get hurt bad enough to figure out they were wrong.

 

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