When I slipped on ice 10 months ago, I had no idea that was the day I would encounter a major injury, and my life would permanently change. I had no plans for that on my goals list, and it struck me hard. It was supposed to be a fun, leisurely run with one of my best running friends. 

The days leading up to it were rather warm for December, so we all soaked up that warmth on our runs. What we didn’t know was that it had, indeed, gotten cold enough the night before to freeze the puddles that pooled on the trails. The light snowfall covered the pavement so we couldn’t see the ice that lay beneath our feet. 

What if I hadn’t run that morning? What if I lived on the defense and never took risks because I was afraid of injury or failure?

I may have had an intact ankle and not had to endure a year of pain and recovery, but I also wouldn’t have experienced the learning curve or lessons that have been major players in my life.

We can live on the defense and try our hardest to prevent injury, but it just can’t always be avoided. Living on the defense is no way to live. That’s where paranoia and fear present themselves, and, unfortunately, even though the defense is equally important, we can never win a game if all we play is defense because offense is what scores the points! We win in the offense when we are willing to take risks, take action, and go after whatever it is we are striving for. 

When we are on offense, this means the other team is naturally on defense and has to react to our actions rather than performing their own plays. The same is true when we live on the defense. If we choose to live defensively, we don’t know the plays that are coming. Circumstances will hit, and we won’t be prepared for them. When on offense, we can formulate plays or a strategic plan to get through the barriers that come. 

It was 1998 during the NFC Championship game starring the Atlanta Falcons vs the Minnesota Vikings.

I remember this so clearly! I was in eighth grade and completely convinced that we were Superbowl-bound! This infamous game was tied 27-27 near the end of the fourth quarter with 30 seconds remaining. The Vikings were facing a third and three at their 27-yard line. Coach Denny Green made the decision to have quarterback Randall Cunningham take a knee, run the clock, and force the game into overtime. 

Whether this was a good or bad decision doesn’t matter. Sometimes the coach sees things we may not, and I’m sure he had his reasons. However, the Vikings still lost in overtime 30-27. They chose to play defensively in the fourth quarter and not proactively, and they lost. 

So when injury strikes, what is your mindset?

Naturally, our tendency is to get down on ourselves and feel like a failure because of the disappointment injury brings. It’s easy to spiral down into a mini-form of depression when we can no longer do everything we were able to. We question, “Why me?” Or like I did, question, “What if I had only chosen to run inside that day?”

Building up our positive mentality is important in our training, but it may even be more important when injuries come. A nagging pain or a full-blown injury can create the same negative impact if we don’t know how to control our emotions or mentality in those times. 

Precautions are good, but we have to be ok with failure or injury. When injury happens, we deal with it. When injury or failure comes, do you find yourself playing not to lose or are you playing to win? Did you know those are two different things?

If you’re playing not to lose …

You’re going to be cautious in every play, and you will be less likely to risk more to gain more. You will hold yourself back rather than doing what you need to to win. Rather than being on the offense, you will wait to react. Trying not to lose is a reactionary response. You will react based on what is brought your way. It’s also all about prevention, prevention of injury and prevention of failure. You will do everything in your power to prevent yourself from losing.

If you’re playing to win …

You’re willing to take chances on risky plays, and you’ll have to make tough calls you may not want to. You play aggressively rather than reactively and work to put points on the scoreboard. Playing to win is authoritative and brings with it empowerment. You have the belief inside knowing you CAN do it. This mindset is intentional, and in it, you create ways to move forward because you’re proactive in all you do.

FINAL STRETCH

Yes, that injury halted my life and changed many of my habits and also dictated what I could or couldn’t do, but I would say it’s worth the risk. I don’t purposely put myself in situations where I know injury is inevitable, but if I were to take myself out of any and all situations that could bring injury or failure, then my life would be uninspiring and unfulfilling. I’d miss out on the little things, the learning and growing moments, the beauty in life. 

Living on the defense is no place for your dreams. Grow your positive mindset and get mentally tough! Choose to live offensively and take risks, even if they lead to failure or injury because you can learn through them! Are you playing not to lose, or are you playing to win? 

Dream huge, and, remember, you are a winner. Just run YOUR race!

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let me know, how can you take an obstacle and turn it into an opportunity?

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