Knowing your ‘Why’; a coping mechanism for dealing with injury

Knowing your ‘Why’; a coping mechanism for dealing with injury

“Why are you in this sport?”, “Why do you do this?” When I get asked those questions or when I ask them of myself I have an answer, I know my why. “win against the best.” That is my why. It is simplistic. It is meaningful to me and it provides me with purpose. What about you?

Do you have a why more so do you know why? Why are you training? Why are you racing? Why are you wanting to better yourself? With all these why’s being thrown around why do we need a why?

It is no secret that I am currently rehabilitating a chronic knee issue. The issue has sidelined me for longer than I would have liked. Yet now we have light and an understanding of what is needed. As I wrote a few weeks ago this period sidelined has resulted in me not being on the start line of this months IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. A race I was wanting to contest for the win. A race I felt, on my day, I could challenge for the win. I won’t be there now and quite frankly it sucks. But…I have a why, I’ve always had a why, and it is this why that has kept me motivated through a difficult time. It is this why that helps me deal with forced rest and a period away from the daily routine of swim, bike and run. It is this why that will see me on a start line, fit, healthy, stronger and faster, back at my best competing to win against the best.

Ever since I took up triathlon back in 2006, and more so since I turned professional in 2008, I have possessed reasons why. My reason why has changed during the progression of my career, and that’s OK. More meaningful to me my reason why has always remained clear. I’ve never not known why I am doing this and I encourage you to seek the same.

First off in those early days my why was to “Become an Olympian”. That why kept me focused, got me to the point where I became an Olympian. Not only did that why get me through tough times it shaped me into the athlete I am today. More recently my why, having found my place in the world of non-draft racing, has become “win against the best.” Knowing my why has given me, as it will you, perspective and motivation whilst it helps instil patience (most of the time) in us and helps deliver perseverance to us during tough times. Knowing our why isn’t all about getting through tough times, it helps us do what we do, and do it well.

When I announced my withdrawal from this years IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, the positive responses and well-wishes were flattering. Amongst these responses were those reaching out in relation to my ‘pain’, the hardship of my decision and there seemed to be a following trend; dealing with tough times. The picture of professional sport, any level of sport for that matter, is relatively rosy, hard work and the required training hours gives results. However the perils of overcoming injury or upset is not commonly touched upon. We, that is you, me and everyone else, can often feel alone in certain instances. No matter how amazing the people are around us it can feel as though we are the only ones suffering, the only ones having to deal with hardship. So how do we deal with it? How can we come good and not feel as though the world is falling from underneath us? My experience, riding the ups and downs, tells me to tell you, no matter the problem, big or small, identifying your ‘Why’ can be one of our biggest assets to coming out the other end fit, healthy, stronger, faster and wiser. When things are going well, when we have a pattern, a routine, consistency and we feel good, having to remind ourselves of why we are doing this isn’t so necessary. During tough times understanding our reasons why can become masked by all of the things that occupy our mind, resulting in periods of injury and hardship difficult to cope with. We feel cheated, we ask many, many questions, we all do, professionals, amateurs, beginners all ask the same questions during tough periods “Why me?”, “What did I do to deserve this?”, “How long will it take to recover?” It is here, in these very moments, moments of uncertainty, that we need to channel our thought processes on why we do this and continuously remind ourselves of that reason why.

Knowing your why extends beyond its attributes as a coping mechanism for dealing with hardship. Knowing your why can…

…help developing athletes, senior, junior or youth keep focus.

…help coaches steer athletes consistently and competently.

…help amateur athletes set realistic and achievable goals.

…help us all know what we want.

…help us understand why we want it and allow us to not loose touch of it.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

My quest to be the absolute best I can be is on-going. I hope yours is too. When I feel I have done all I could, turned every stone and got to a point whereby I cannot “win against the best”, I’ll find a new why. Until then I’m not going anywhere. Let’s ride this journey together through more good times and undoubtedly through some rough times. As my avid and loyal followers you absolutely rock! Thank you.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you Helle, your words help complete my unformed thoughts, to understand the driving goal is what makes a personal target a voyage rather than a trip.

  2. Your actions in training and racing were always inspirational, now your words are just as inspirational. Thank you!

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