“Mind over body.” I cannot tell you how many times that simple phrase has been reiterated to me during training when I wanted to quit. When an athlete’s muscles and lungs are begging to stop during training and competition, the athlete’s mind has to say “absolutely not.” The persuasion of the mind must overcome the weakness of the body for athletes to grow. That’s how mental toughness works, and it’s a good thing in the appropriate doses.
That being said, my title isn’t a typo. Off-the-track/court/field, etc., athletes are wired to take care of our bodies over our minds. Here’s an example: I graduated college with 1.) a hamstring injury, and 2.) anxiety. Guess which one I took care of first?
The hamstring. Because I, as an athlete, knew exactly what to do to heal it.
After graduation, I took two weeks off of running and called up a physical therapist right away. It was a stubborn injury that took about a year to heal, but I was relentless because I knew what to do.
I knew anatomy. I knew kinesiology. I was familiar with sports medicine. So I got to work healing my hamstring, thinking that my mind would follow suit and calm down too.
I thought that when college running stopped, “anxiety” would stop too. And I use quotation marks there, because I knew something was off in my mind, but I didn’t have a word for it at the time. The language simply didn’t exist for athlete Katie, but I had plenty of words to describe what was going on with my hamstring.
My injury had a name: high hamstring tendinopathy. I understood the anatomy behind it too: my biceps femoris was strained from chronic overuse paired with weak hips, and that long hamstring muscle was pulling on the tendon located at the ischial tuberosity at the end of my pelvis. Sitting on it, let alone running, was excruciating, and healing it wasn’t a walk in the park, either. But I pursued physical therapy because that was a natural thought process for an injured athlete: when your body hurts, you take care of it.
As an athlete, I knew all of the complicated anatomical terms associated with my injury, but I had no idea what anxiety was. Now, I do, thanks to my therapist. But it took me two years of dealing with anxiety post-NCAA to do anything about it. Because athletes are wired to take care of the body over the mind.
That’s a problem. And I’ll talk about that more in my next post. Stay tuned!