My 15 year old son recently sprained his ankle in the middle of cross country season. He was devastated.
Of course, I told him all the usual stuff we parents say when we’re trying to encourage our kids. “It’s just a sprain, thank goodness” and “you’re young and healthy, you’ll be back running in no time.”
But as a former marathoner myself, I also reminded him that these setbacks are an opportunity to show us what we’re made of. I prattled on and on about how these things make us stronger, how they reveal the content of our character, how they teach us to avoid further injury by learning new stretching & training techniques.
I told him running–and athletics in general–is 99% mental, 1% physical–because coming back from injury means move the mind and the body will follow.
It means doing the physical therapy even when you are sad about not being there with your team.
It means resting when you want to play.
It means not giving up even when you could easily throw in the towel and say, “screw this.”
Well, yesterday my son came to me after reading an Instagram post Kobe Bryant put up about injured Celtics player Gordon Hayward. He said, “hey mom–Kobe said EXACTLY what you always say to me. You were right, I GET IT now!”
Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of it’s success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.
So parents, keep repeating the positive messages to your kids. I promise, it WILL sink in. And when it does, it’s so rewarding.
While we’re at it—don’t forget to take your OWN advice and keep moving forward. And don’t look back, damn it–cuz that’s not the way you’re goin’ baby!