August 14, 2009

Why do injuries happen?

this post was written by Chuckie V

It’s not easy to read the last three or four blogs that Matt Fitzgerald has written. It’s not that he’s suddenly decided to write poorly for the first time ever, or that he calls me bad names (which I would understand, quite truthfully). Nor is it through the use of a bunch of weird words with scores of syllables and hidden meanings. It’s hard to read because he touches on a subject I don’t ever care to relive, but one I must occasionally deal with as a coach.

Matt is a beaten down man, mostly because of an innate and unquenchable desire to perform well at a silly little (well, not so little) triathlon, so he can qualify for the big dance in Kona. But as “fate” would have it his head is writing checks his body can’t cash—specifically his Achilles tendon, his knees and his __________(fill in the blank). Injuries have left him sidelined and missing out on what he loves doing most: running, cycling and swimming.

So there on his little corner of the wireless world he’s opened his wounds for all to see and read. Advice, of course, poured in.

As is usually the case with the injured athlete, Matt freely admitted that anger immediately surfaced (this, as expected; first comes denial, then anger, then disappointment, then acceptance, and then, hopefully, the drive to solve the issue{s}). And while I tend to think that anger is a necessary element of athletic performance (particularly at the top end of sport), there’s definitely good anger and bad anger. And anger caused by injury is never good (unless, perhaps, you’re cage-fighting a chimpanzee).

Because he’s such a nice guy and offers so much to the sport, one can’t help but hope that Matt flips a quick U-turn. But I fear he won’t (after two and a half decades in sport I’ve come to know the type). Not only does he appear to harness too much of the wrong kind of anger but he also seems a trifle impatient, and while the former may be a helpful ingredient for success as an endurance athlete, the latter never helps. When injured, the endurance athlete must make use of his time and shift his or her focus on to solving the problem and not just feeling sorry for himself or asking “Why me?” or trying to work his troubles out during subsequent workouts. Often, time is all it takes, and time is something we know we have but worry we don’t.

Contrary to what Matt writes injuries don’t just happen. They happen for a reason (and often times, because of a number of reasons…as is the case with him, what with a number of injuries). The athlete who can see through his rage and watery-eyed disappointment, and through his own stumbling subjectiveness, is the athlete who can begin to solve them. I should know. I was one of them.

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