What an Injury Taught Me About Gratitude

 
 
Andrea Seccafien is an Olympian and elite distance runner focusing on the 5000m and 10,000m. In the summer of 2015, she suffered a season ending injury early and could not compete for a spot on the Pan Am Games team and struggled to find positivity while sidelined all summer. This is her story:
 
 

I remember the moment I finally accepted I wasn't going to have a outdoor track season this year. I was up at altitude, it was the middle of April and I hadn't run since February. While this may have seemed obvious to most people around me, I had an absolute death grip on my goals of making the Pan Ams team, running personal bests and proving I’m still relevant.

It would be a grave understatement to say I let go of my goals easily and took this injury in stride. I spent a lot of time upset and frustrated that I didn’t even get to try to achieve my goals, that I didn’t line up to race a single time. It wasn’t until the Pan Ams team was named that I really let it go.

It’s now been 6 months since I’ve been able to train consistently and while I’ve missed running deeply, more challenging to me is how to be positive with this obvious, gaping hole in my life. My coaches, my physical therapists, my teammates would tell me “Stay positive.” And while I’m fully aware that positivity makes you happier, and healthier, this advice to stay positive didn’t resonate with me. Until it did.

But it wasn’t positivity, it was gratitude.

Gratitude is the opposite of depression and anxiety. It’s the conscious experience of appreciating the gifts in our lives.

At the beginning of every day, I answer: I am grateful for… and What would make today great?

When you start the day on the right note, things automatically start to fall in place. It pulls my focus away from the obvious struggle; this  injury, and brings it to something positive; the people in my life, americanos, outdoor pools with lane swim. And as simple, or cliche as this may sound, it honestly makes me feel better.

andamericano

And whenever I get down throughout the day because it’s beautiful out and I can’t run, I think about the second question “What would make today great?” and I focus on doing those goals instead of what I cannot do.

Gratitude puts situations into perspective. While I previously had four very healthy years with steady improvements, no one rises to the top without stumbling at least once. And while this year was far from ideal, there are plenty of things I can focus on right now to help me come back stronger and more fired up in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Andrea is currently living and training in Toronto, Ontario. She is a Canadian University (CIS) national champion, a Canadian national champion and represented Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics. This post originally appeared on her site: www.andreaseccafien.com