Physical and mental healing

As my body has been healing from hip surgery I’m realizing just how closely our mental health is tied to our physical health.  Right after surgery I had a lot of hope and optimism about life and was looking forward to recovering and getting back to full strength again.  But as the days wore on and I endured the disability and weakness induced by surgery, I started to feel discouraged and depressed.  I often reviewed the chain of events that led to me needing hip labral repair (over-training, muscle weakness and imbalance, lack of patience or intuition in my training to name a few).  I became angry with myself for inducing the injury.  I realized that I made the mistake of following a training plan perfectly but not listening to my body enough to intercept the injury before it got severe.  Then I started to feel scared to get back into running again and wondered if I could regain the drive push my body close to its limit again or if I’d rather just take it easy and avoid pushing my body for fear of injuring myself again.  I hated to think of the future troughs in the roller coaster of life that are sure to exist as I keep striving to climb up the hills.  I felt depressed and overwhelmed by my physical imperfections and uncertain that my body is durable enough to be a professional marathon runner.  Just as my hip and leg was weak and injured, my mental outlook was skewed and dysfunctional as well. Then I realized something.  Not only do I need to be patient and persistent in my efforts to heal my hip but I also need to address what my mind is going through and recognize that I have some mental healing to do as well.  I need to be patient with my mind and allow myself to acknowledge those fears and doubts so I can identify their source and learn from them.  I kept hoping that at any moment I would snap out of the mental funk I’ve been in but its not so much of a “snap” as it is a slow, persistent process of buffing out the scars and false beliefs in my mind.  Just as I have to do physical therapy every day on my hip to regain the muscle and normal range of motion and strength, I also need to exercise my mind in positive thinking and affirmations to regain normal function and mental power.
Our minds are just as susceptible to injury as our bodies but too often these mental injuries are overlooked or suppressed.  Over the past couple of months since surgery many of my friends and acquaintances ask me how my hip is doing and they often assume that I am doing great since I am no longer in crutches or limping noticeably.  I usually just report on the positive improvements in my hip but lately have decided to also take note of the healing that is going on in my mind too.  I am regaining my optimism and hope.  I am affirming my faith and mental power.  I can now acknowledge that the lesson’s I’ve learned about training, rest and recovery, and listening to my body may actually be the tools I need to not only get back to where I was with my fitness and racing, but surpass my previous marks.  I realize that I still have a long road before me but I am committed to patience in the journey and faith in the destination.   I’m gradually extinguising my pessimism and replacing it with optimism.  As I am healing physically I am now able to run 30 minutes a day plus cross-training, and I can now see light at the end of the tunnel and future racing ahead!
I believe that in every difficulty or failure there is a seed for an equal and opposite success.  I hope I can learn everything God intends me to learn from this challenge and turn it into fuel for future growth and progress. I choose to be an optimist.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”  -Winston Churchill
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”  ~Scott Hamilton


  1. Nan – I asked Aaron how you were doing when I saw him on Saturday. He revealed this had been a struggle. I am glad that you are coming through this healthier, and wiser. All the best.

  2. Amber

    Thank you for sharing this Nan. I appreciate your optimism and your strength through this healing process you are going through. I learned a lot from reading this entry, and can also relate to some of your thoughts and feelings. You are such an incredible athlete, whom I admire!!!

  3. corinne

    Nan, I was thinking about u today and resolved to check out ur blot to see how u. Manage this mentally. Since the stress fracture in my foot did not heal in first six weld of me doing it “my way” and so far one week on crutches, it is my mental state that has suffered the most. I am not a.professional or even fast at running but I love it…I realized I loved it more.than myself why else would h I have refused to listen to my body in pain and run for weeks on what I knew in my heart was some version of a break. I am trying to learn the lessons or rest and caring for my temple. Anyway, it got me wondering about u for whom the stakes are higher. Thank you.for being willing to share ur pain and growth and good luck in all facets of recovery.

  4. Jennifer

    Hi Nan! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences here. I tore the labrum in my left hip back in 2009 but never had surgery on it. I’ve been able to run pretty well on it since then, and actually ran my marathon PR in 2010. But it has flared back up and I am considering surgery. I wondered if we might be able to chat a bit about the surgery and your experiences with it. I’d really appreciate any insights you can share!

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