INJURED I’M As competitive athletes we are continually striving to push ourselves further in the quest for greatness and personal achievement. We never think that something will happen to us in the midst of our preparation for an event or contest. Injuries are, somewhat, unavoidable. The longer you are into fitness the greater chance you have of getting injured. This shouldn’t prevent anyone from working out. That would be like saying you aren’t going to drive your car anymore because you could get in an accident. Nevertheless, It happens. Injuries can sneak up on us, even when we think we are taking every precaution to avoid them. Most injuries require that we take some time off to heal, which can range from a week to a month or so, which to the A-type athlete may seem like an eternity, but if adhered to, can mean you’re back into your training before the contest season winds down to a close. But what do you do when the injury takes you out of the contest preparation completely? The mental side of this unfortunate situation is where I happen 53. NOW WHAT? to be at right now, and have found some very positive avenues to help maintain my sanity as I work through the healing process and try for a comeback. I have started focusing on some of the strategies outlined below. Athlete Strategies for Coping with Injuries: #1 Be sad Allow yourself to mourn and feel whatever loss you are experiencing. Being "macho", "strong" or "brave" by burying or hiding your feelings in this situation is not only a waste of energy, but will interfere with you effectively coping and recovering. Feeling is an important part of the healing process. Remember that! Feeling is part of healing! #2 Deal with what is Injured athletes have a tendency to focus on the "could 'a beens", "should 'a beens" and the "way it was" if only they hadn't gotten hurt. The fact of the matter is no amount of wishing upon a star will change the reality of your situation. Yes it sucks that you got injured. Yes, it’s thrown a monkey wrench into all your plans and dreams. Unfortunately, this is your reality right now and you have to allow yourself to deal with where you are, right now! #3 Set new, more realistic goals for yourself As you begin the recovery process, you may very well have to learn to measure your successes very differently than ever before, perhaps in millimeters now instead of meters the way it was before your injury. It may mean that you also have to start all over again back at “square one” to build up arm or leg strength. Keep focused on your new goals and leave the old ones in the past for now where they belong. Once you’ve come all the way back from your injury you can start entertaining your old goals. #4 Maintain a positive attitude no matter what As difficult as this will be, try to stay as positive as possible. Understand that “It is to be, it is up to me.” In other words, your attitude and outlook is absolutely everything! When positive, your attitude can speed up the healing process and lessen the emotional pain that you have to go through. However, when you’re negative you’ll slow the rehab process down to a screeching halt and make yourself miserable in the process. It's all up to you. Avoid being negative because nothing good ever comes from negativity. Negativity will only bring you and everyone else around you down.