If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll be aware that on Thursday I made the difficult decision to take a break from sport. So many people messaged to support me and I had no idea how many people had gone through something similar. Since I think reading about this may have helped me make the decision earlier, I thought I’d share my reasons why. It will also help keep me motivated! (I was also quite proud of this cycing pun haha).
A year of injury
Well, not quite. But almost. And it certainly feels like it! In the past 12 months, I’ve been injured for 7 of them. I’ve been stuck in a vicious cycle of training, getting fit, getting injured, cross-training, recovering & building back. And it’s honestly exhausting! When I do finally get some decent running in, I’ll constantly be paranoid that I’ve got a niggle or I’m going to get one. So I can’t even really enjoy myself when I am running. If something doesn’t bring you joy anymore then I always think it’s worth assessing why. So that’s what I’ve been doing, leading me to make this decision.
Exactly a year ago, I got my first period in almost 2.5 years. I was over the moon (pun intended) and swore that this time I’d keep them. However, despite my intentions, I didn’t manage this. I won’t go into it too much but I never properly established them and am now in a similar situation as I was before. This time, though, I decided that enough was enough. I can’t keep ignoring the fact that my body clearly isn’t happy. Constant injury cycles and no menstrual cycles are as sure a marker of damage as any.
When I announced that I was taking a break from sport, the most common adjective people used to describe the decision was “brave”. And (without sounding arrogant?) it does take courage to take this step. Courage and mental fortitude. A year ago, I definitely wasn’t mentally strong enough to take a break from exercise. I was still very much in a place where I felt compelled to exercise to “deserve” my food. Such a toxic mindset! But now I can wholeheartedly say that I’m ready for it. Sure, it will still be tough at times – but I’m strong enough now to get through it. And honestly it’s such a liberating prospect!
Rest, eat, repeat
That’s pretty much what the next few weeks are going to look like for me – and that’s okay! No restriction either, as this would be counterproductive. I need to be in an energy surplus to kick-start the hormones and hopefully get the periods. Yes, this will involve further weight restoration. But to be honest? It’s really not that scary to me anymore. My body will change, but I’m ready for that. We’re not talking drastic changes here – but enough to let it reach its happy state. I’ll still do some short walks with Clovie (thankfully she has little legs) and stretch/ do easy yoga but that’s it. To be honest, I’m really quite excited for a break. I haven’t had a proper one (from sport) for a while and my body is craving it. I’ve got the support of my family, my coach, my friends… and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
If you’re in a similar situation and are considering a break from sport but are scared to, then this is the mindset change I made to be able to do it. I stopped seeing food as something earned by exercise. I changed my priorities from “overcoming this injury” to “getting back my periods and achieving long-term health”. In order to safeguard myself against another year or decade of injuries, I’m taking the time out now. And now is the perfect time! Lockdown has handed us the perfect opportunity to rest on a plate. No races, no training groups, no running chat. It’s time to prioritise YOU and your future health. This period of rest is like any training block – except, rather than the outcome being a race performance, the outcome is healing my body. How’s that for a mindset shift?
A few final thoughts
So. What am I going to fill my time with now? There’s no denying that cross-training kept me busy! I’m hoping that I won’t suddenly spend way more time on my phone. A few things I’d like to do are:
- Embroider a small pattern onto a plain t-shirt (already done!)
- Keep up letter writing to friends
- Zoom brunches
- Zoom quizzes
- Tanning & reading
- Weekly foodshop (it makes me feel useful ok)
- Make more edits on Canva
- Maybe write an e-book of some sort? Not sure what on though
I hope you found this post interesting and as always, any questions just DM me. Stay happy, safe and healthy.