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Shifting your Perspective through Injury

Clarice Chastang on her time trail bike Photo by Nikolai Roster
Clarice Chastang on her time trial bike Photo by Nikolai Roster

Athletes don’t enjoy being injured. Cut down on my workouts? Go to numerous specialists to get a diagnosis? Focus on strength training and physical therapy instead of swimming, biking and running? No thank you! 

What if I told you that an injury can be rejuvenating? All you must do is change your perspective.

Right before Ironman Florida 2021 I was diagnosed with a tear at the insertion point of my glute/hamstring tendon. This injury was not new, I had been battling it for almost two years at this point but I finally had an answer. I went into Ironman Florida knowing that a DNF was possible, but still wanted to give it a try. I ended up in a large amount of pain during the bike ride and made the decision to drop out in T2. The next week I was in my orthopedic surgeon’s office receiving a PRP injection to hopefully heal the injured area.

After my injection I took a few weeks off training completely which I had not done in years. Initially I struggled a lot with the mental aspect of being inactive. I was never able to enjoy a true off-season in years as I would get anxious about losing fitness and hop back into training when my body was desperate for time off. It’s no surprise that I found myself plagued with one injury after the other until this major one caught up to me. My body was screaming for a long break and a reset. 

I told myself I could stay down and let this injury get the best of me or I could reframe my perspective. This injury could be a blessing in disguise. I now had all this free time and could do whatever I wanted with it. For once I did not have a training schedule to follow. Workouts did not dictate what I was going to do with my days. I was not going to let a lack of workouts change my character. I was still a triathlete, despite the injury. I just had to take a step back and realize I needed to be smart and let this injury finally heal correctly.

I focused on some projects I had put on the backburner because training took priority. I was able to spend more time with friends, enjoy the holiday season, focus more on triathlon coaching and began the search to buy a house – all because I had more free time! I was not exercising, but I was still happy and enjoying life. Time away from exercise was a huge mental reset helped me focus on what was important in my life and helped me reframe my perspective leading into 2022.

So far 2022 has shaped out differently than expected, but that’s okay. I was supposed to race Challenge Miami at the beginning of March, but I knew my glute/hamstring was not quite ready and my fitness was not where I wanted it to be. Instead, I spent that weekend renovating the house I just recently bought. My training is now different. I have started working with a physical therapist who gave me a daily strength routine and a pre-run warm-up. The season will start with two half-Ironman distance races and then I’ll listen to my body and see where it wants to go for the rest of the year.

Triathlon should be fun and enjoyable, but I found myself dreading almost all aspects of it as I battled my injury day in and day out. Now I find myself rejuvenated as I ramp back into training knowing I had a few months of down-time to enjoy myself. My perspective has changed since battling this injury and I now realize what is important to me in the sport. I do this because I enjoy it and I love it. Slowing down isn’t the end of my triathlon career. Taking a few months off or very easy will ensure I get to enjoy triathlon for many more years to come.

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