I came across something interesting on Twitter the other day. It wasn’t one of the shock tweets by Australian comedian and recently dismissed columnist form The Age, Catherine Deveny, nor was it words of wisdom from the Dalai Lama. It was a tweet from American triathlete Kevin Collington, courtesy of Simon Whitfield’s brilliant re-tweeting skills.
Kevin proposed that “the amount of time since an athlete’s last blog post is directly proportional to the probability that he/she is injured.” This got me thinking, something that I have had ample time to do lately due to my injury status. As suggested by Kevin, it seems that a large number of athletes go MIA from the world of blogging and other communication mediums when they are injured. I know that this is true for me. In dealing with being injured, my natural tendency is too close off. My close friends will say that I am harder to get in touch with and have even gone so far as to say that I become a hermit. While I don’t entirely cut myself off from the outside world and hole up in a remote bush cabin, I do indeed have to fight the urge to distance myself from communication with people in the triathlon world. For me it is probably akin to denial. If I don’t talk about it and if people don’t know about it, I’m not injured. I would bet this is the case for quite a few athletes. This has both positives and negatives. No one wants to listen to, or read, dreary tales of injury and self wallowing, when in the grand scheme of human suffering and hardship, an athletic injury is equivalent to a paper-cut. In saying that, I think some of the most interesting stories about athletes are their tales of adversity and perseverance.
From a personal point of view, I think it is important to appreciate all the little things that go part and parcel with being an athlete, including times of injury. The endless hours spent at the physio; the hope that you will wake up in the morning and the injury will be healed; the disappointment at the end of the day when the realisation sets in that this injury may be around for a while; the hidden tears of frustration; the ridiculous haircut you get because you are so incredibly bored; the hours of creative cooking and baking; the sore fingers you develop from throwing yourself into your university studies, forgetting that your hands are not conditioned to typing incredibly long essays; the taking up of a hobby, or some other sport, to get an adrenalin rush. I once had the very short lived idea of taking up rollerblading to keep fit and get my endorphin rush. I went into an inline skate store, boldly told the shop assistant that I was quite athletic and was going to be doing a lot of rollerblading and would need top notch skates. Whilst I still looked relatively fit, he promptly got me some skates. I had in fact exaggerated my skating ability and as soon as I put the skates on for a test run, I stayed upright for about 2 metres before I lost control and skated my way into a shop display. I quickly hurried out, head held high but ears pricked to the quiet laughter from the shop assistants. I have never again entertained the idea of rollerblading!
When you’re a little bit discouraged, it’s the kind and supportive words from a friend or family member, or even the odd stranger that lifts your spirits. Once I was in the supermarket struggling with crutches when a dear old man told me to keep my chin up and I’d be back on the netball court in no time. I’m not sure why he thought I played netball (anyone who has witnessed my lack of hand eye coordination would never make this mistake) but it was the kindness of a stranger that touched me. At the end of the day, it is the love and passion for what you do and knowing that no matter how far or hard the journey seems you will keep going. Where all else fails, perseverance prevails.
So back to blogging and being injured. It may seem easier to ignore being injured and pretend it isn’t happening, by communicating less with your peers or by not posting a blog; however, I think that if you take the time to appreciate the highs and lows of the journey whether that is by keeping a diary, writing a blog or sharing your tales with friends, you will enjoy the view from the top so much more. All too often people forget to get out the camera along the way. When you hang up your shoes at the end of a career I bet the snapshots of the climb are just as meaningful as the ones where you are triumphant at the top.