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The Glass is Half Full

By Justin Roeder | June 20, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

justinEvery athlete endures highs and lows throughout their season, but it’s during the rough patches where the best athletes shine. Whether you encounter a crash, injury, illness, or freak accident, an athlete’s day might head south fast (nothing against the south).

When an athlete is experiencing that sweet sensation of racing and training high, everything seems effortless and second nature, but when that low appears, all sense of control vanishes. It is during this time where the athlete needs to make a decision: either hibernate in the shadows dwelling on lost fitness, or accept it and change your plan to address other variables in your control.

This topic is always a tough one to experience as an athlete. The past couple months I have been fighting on-and-off calf troubles that limit my amount of volume and intensity while running. I am able to swim and bike pain-free, but running much more than an hour a day or back-to-back days is where trouble seems to appear. When my calf nuisance first occurred, I took all my time and energy usually used for running, and converted it to therapy, physically and mentally. I took a full week off of running which freed five hours which I utilized to ice, massage, foam roll, and address my lacking other two disciplines.

After a week off, the calf symptoms quickly vanished, but instead of going full steam and begin running on the recovery calf muscle, my coach and I developed a plan where we emphasized more training for the other two disciplines.  Then once the calf started to respond positively to running again, we then shifted our volume back to the previous amount prior to the injury.

A sample week-to-week progression from injury to recovery to healthy:

Week 1:  Bike (13 hrs)  Swim (8 hrs)  Weights (1 hr)  Run (0 hr)
Week 2:  Bike (12 hrs)  Swim (7 hrs)  Weights (1 hr)  Run (2 hrs)
Week 3:  Bike (11 hrs)  Swim (6 hrs)  Weights (1 hr)  Run (4 hrs)
Week 4:  Bike (11 hrs)  Swim (6 hrs)  Weights (1 hr)  Run (5 hrs)

justinComing from a running background it is always tough to take days off where you don’t run, but I did not dwell too long on this injury. I may have had a bad day here or there, but overall I looked at the injury as a great opportunity. My mindset was that of now having more time to work on my lack of base on the bike and address my poor swim results.

Throughout these past few months the calf troubles have definitely highlighted my lows, but in a weird way they have also lead to my highs. Focusing more on my swim and bike allowed me to stay in contention in both Rev3 Knoxville and Dallas Elite Development Race, which presented me the opportunity to run only at 80 percent for the overall wins. Even though I could not train to my full potential, the other two disciplines fitness gains allowed me to race near my full ability (including the run portion). Remember the glass is always half full.

Positive Outlook Tips and Suggestions:

  • Accept that injuries are a part of the sport
  • Learn from injuries or accidents to prevent future encounters
  • Ask for help, chances are someone else has been there
  • Surround yourself with exceptional people that will encourage you during your time of need
  • Remember this low will soon be erased by the next high
  • Support fellow teammates during their rough patches