Injuries ‘r’ Us

So often when a runner is injured or has aches and pains, the comments that follow…
What did I do wrong?
Why me?
Leading to the …
Look at those guys I see run on TV…
They’re so lucky they don’t get injured as much as us “age groupers” or “weekend warriers”…

This has been something I’ve observed for many years. I used to think that any elite or world class level runner didn’t get injuries like everyone else. They have the best coaches. The have the best facilities to train at. They have all the cross-training and weight rooms with the most state-of-the-art equipment. They have nutritionists. They have everything from pressure and altitude chambers to underwater and zero-gravity treadmills. They have physical massage therapists. C’mon!

Well, the reality is quite different. And that is the perspective I want to share. One of the most intriguing sections in Track & Field News (The Bible of the Sport since 1948 as they put it) is called “Status Quo.”

Every month they publish aches and pains as well as retirements and drug busts. But it’s the aches and pains portions I want to refer to. In any given month the list is quite impressive on who is “out” due to injuries. It’s a literal who’s who. Now some of the names may not hit home with many of you unless you are really into following the world of road racing and track and field but some will. But these are the world’s best; Olympians; World Championship contenders; and national record holders.

Here’s a sampling for just this issue who will be out part or all of the rest of this track season :
Bryan Clay – US #1 decathlon (hamstring);
Lauren Fleshman (foot)
Ryan Bailey (leg strain)
Nicole Bush (broken foot)
Walter Dix (hamstring)
Hyleas Fountain (neck strain)
Alan Webb (hamstring)
Tyler Christopher – Canada 400 (hamstring)
Tasha Danvers – GB 400IH bronze medalist (hamstring)
Robert Fazekas – Hungary discus (herniated disk)
Caroline Hingst – GDR vaulter (calf & Achilles)
Carolina Kluft – Sweden jumper/heptathlon – (hamstring – will not resume training for 6 months)
Jenn Stuczinski – #1 US vaulter (Achilles)
Mara Yamauchi – GB marathoner (foot)
Kelly Sotherton – 7- event bronze medalist (bruised heel)
Moses Masai – Kenya (strained ankle)
Petra Lammert – GDR shot putter (elbow)
The list is often longer. It is a parade of injuries which calls to question our assumption on injuries.

First, it is arguable that they may exert themselves further than age group runners or non-elite level. Possible. I counter that for our given levels many of us put every bit on the line when we race (or train) just as they do.

Second, running (and track and field in total) is simply an extremely demanding physical endeavor. With the greatest support in the world you may still get injured. Under the most careful and watchful eye of a coach you may still get injured. No matter what cross-training you do you may get injured.

So I leave you with this. I do not make light that an injury is a real pisser! Nor do I minimize the psychological impact on us. However, it goes with the territory. I’m not saying “count on” being injured. Nobody wants or has that as an intention. At the same time I’m saying don’t continue in this sport thinking it won’t happen to you. And if and when it does, learn to deal with it – just as all the elites do.

What does separate the elites from most of us is that they will do everything and anything to get back to the sport they love… no matter how tedious, boring or uncomfortable. It is what champions do when they are not being watched that makes them different. They do not waiver in their vision of or commitment to winning medals and setting records once again. We never get to see all that these athletes do in order to get back to the top. We only get to see the final results on TV… so effortless… winning medals and setting records.

I return to something I tell every athlete I encounter who bemoans an injury. If you don’t want to get injured – sit on the couch and do nothing. You will never incur another running injury that way.

As for me, I’m coming back… I’m always coming back!


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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4 Responses to Injuries ‘r’ Us

  1. Christina says:

    Thank you for the great post. I’m coming back too!!!

  2. Dean Hebert says:


    Just so you know… I admire your tenacity… I know how difficult your setbacks have been… I also know.. you INDEED will come back… and I welcome the company.

  3. jim says:

    I would also suggest this. Those that dont get injured are not pushing themselves to their utmost. Often these injuries come from pushing the envelope and trying to get the most out of ourselves. Injuries do come with the territory if you are givinga full effort. You will never get injured ( or rarely) if what you do is simply go for an easy jog every day. There is nothing wrong with that either, if that is what you like to do. But if you aspire to see what more you can achieve, then the injuries are unfortunately inevitable

  4. Dean Hebert says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I think human nature for most people is NOT to explore physical limits. That is why we are so fascinated by such endeavors and have them on TV. MOST people will not go to those limits.. but we are fascinated by those who do.

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