Your First Workout Post-Injury: Time to Learn Something New

After being away so long, a few simple bodyweight exercises and a jog around the block just about moved me to tears.

(Source: Bev Childress)

To truly feel fulfilled in your training, you must build your mindset on gratitude. Gratitude for what you already have—any progress you have made and a body that, regardless of training, can already move in so many beautiful ways. Gratitude for your opportunity to train and your access to gyms, trainers, and fresh food. Gratitude for your culture and community which, despite many detrimental influences, provides overwhelming value and supports your personal health and fitness journey.

As a coach, I aim to instill gratitude in every athlete that I work with. As an athlete myself, I actively cultivate and maintain gratitude for my own body, training, and opportunities. As a writer, I have shared the benefits of expressing gratitude and measuring progress by looking back, rather than looking forward.

Despite holding these ideals as priority, I have seen recently how easily we can drift from them. My past several articles have been about injury. I have discussed both ways to reframe your thinking about an injury, and way to ways to see the positive opportunities and lessons that follow an injury, rather than allowing it to drag you into an emotional slump.

The last two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to return to a bit of light training after two months off. I came to accept my situation early, and focused my commitment on other work. Experience with past injuries reminded me that I would most certainly come to look back on this one as a gift. While my last two months have not been spent as I would have preferred, I largely resisted the pull into a depressive state.

Despite remaining relatively positive, I had allowed my gratitude for my body to wane. Soon after developing a hernia, my own words on gratitude came back to me when one of my articles was published. I was struck by my own dismissal of a lesson whose value I had just professed. A beautiful aspect of teaching and writing is that often, our own words are those we need to hear most.

Returning With Gratitude

As I return now to a very minimal and mellow version of what my training once was, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. I’ve never been so thankful for push ups, pull ups, or jogging.

An injury always presents a lesson. I’ve known and felt how an injury can bring awareness to a physical limitation, spotlighting issues we didn’t know about, and showing us areas to work on. This heightened awareness will then permeate each movement that we do, deepening our relationship to our physical bodies.

I’ve learned that an injury can likewise enhance our sense of gratitude. Similar to physical awareness, my time away has helped me to develop real-time gratitude while training. In the past, my fitness gratitude practice has been largely reflective and retrospective. Pondering, discussing, or writing about how thankful I feel for my body, my training, my gym community, and the associated fun and progress that follow. However, my first workout back, during a short run interval as part of longer set, I felt a wash of gratitude fill me from top to bottom. I was sweaty for the first time in months, breathing hard and heart pounding, entering “the dark place” after such a long hiatus. I could not have felt more grateful. The privilege to do a few simple bodyweight exercises and run around the block nearly moved me to tears.

Time away as helped me to feel thankful for every rep and every training session. An injury can not only bring a new physical awareness, but a deeper gratitude to every moment of your training.

In the past, I both practiced and preached reframing an injury to view it as a gift; an opportunity to learn more about your body and move forward with new lessons in mind. I now see the road toward recovery for the opportunity it truly is: a journey away from a familiar place, only to return and see it again with fresh eyes.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

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