Using your injury as a teachable moment

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
— Pema Chodron

I’ve referenced Buddhist nun Pema Chodron a number of times over the past few years, and in looking for something to write about, came upon the above quote. 

I looked down at the boot on my right foot and sighed.

I tried to find the origin of this image and had no luck. But yes, pretty much this. 

I tried to find the origin of this image and had no luck. But yes, pretty much this. 

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my great white whale is the marathon, and I’m signed up to do one in June. The stress fracture in my right foot has sidelined my training, and because I work on my feet, it hasn't quite healed yet.

Ok, also because I continue to train...I'm not running, but I'm not exactly staying off of it. 

I read the quote again and looked back to my foot.

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. 

Injuries are probably one of the most frustrating things that we deal with in our sports and fitness journey. I watch professional athletes pitch a fit at being pulled from the game and I both admire their competitive nature and admonish their stupidity. 

Probably because I identify with both. 

As a coach I scold people who go through a workout without disclosing an injury, yet know that I'm sometimes guilty of doing the same. I think injuries become more frustrating as you get older - you get in a good groove with your workouts and you're finally feeling good and then bam - you tweak your back. Your knee swells up. You've got a pinched nerve, a bum shoulder or a stress fracture. 

I've always trusted my body to do the things I want to do - to run, to lift, to help someone move or hike a mountain. I literally work a job now that I can't do without my physical health. 

It becomes harder to trust our bodies and do the things we want to do. So we either ignore the injuries and just plow through the workouts (yes I've done this), or we throw in the towel entirely. As a friend once told me, her aunt quit working out because her back was sore and that was 30 years ago. 

While I do believe it's really important to continue working out around an injury to keep your habits strong, I also believe there are lessons to be learned along the way.

Yes, I'm mostly talking to myself right now. 

Because I’m pretty sure my foot is trying to teach me a lesson right now. 

Or maybe it's the universe speaking. Or some cosmic energy. 

Regardless, there is a lesson to be learned here and I've had my nose in the sand, ignoring it. 

My lesson might be patience. I got the diagnosis on my foot, was given a boot, and hobbled through the next week at work making my foot worse. 

Maybe the lesson is to listen: to professional advice AND to my body. I've kind of ignored both. 

To slow down.

This might be my biggest lesson of all with this injury. 

Lately I've been going a hundred and ten miles an hour. I am (quite happily) spending almost every waking hour working on something for either Spurling or for my personal business. I've ignored social engagements, time with my other half and even time with my dog in favor of work. And my marathon training was isolating me even more. 

I think more than anything, the lesson to be learned here is to put the brakes on. Savor my first cup of coffee. Stop "nexting" in each moment. 

Maybe if I can acknowledge the lessons this experience is trying to teach me - just maybe, this injury will go away.

Nothing goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. 

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