Can you imagine how good it would feel to be competing on a relay team at the Olympics in the final event on the track?

Think about how loud the crowds would be, how much adrenaline would be pumping through your body, and just how alive you would feel.

My guest today got to experience that, and then struggled with injuries for the next four years pretty much continuously. Jessie decided she wanted to look into the minds of injured athletes and figure out why the identity loss she felt while injured seemed so real.

It can be tough to continue to appreciate your body when you have a big goal in mind but your body doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. Jessie did the research, and you are going to find what she says about running and depression very interesting and real. Many have called this identity loss a retired athlete’s first death, and athletes have to work hard to rediscover what they want to do with their lives.

All you can do is your absolute best, in racing, training, and recovery, and you need to look inside yourself to find your improvements, not at other runners.

This podcast episode is for anyone who feels like they are continuously being tested in their running, and the joy of running is being sucked away by the frustration of injury. Jessie may focus mostly on elite runners, but the principles can apply to us all.

Today’s Guest

Jessie Barr

Olympian and 400m hurdler, Jessie has achieved the ultimate goal of many athletes, but is doing so much more. Jessie is finishing up her PhD in sports psychology.

What You Will Learn About

  • What it feels like to run the 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relay in the Olympics.
  • How to stay focused and positive when you seem to be unable to stay healthy and have a chain of injuries.
  • What to do when you lose trust in your body and question why your body keeps letting you down.
  • If you have lost joy for running, why a complete reset by taking a little time off can bring that joy and appreciation back.
  • Advice for friends and family who aren’t sure how to treat a loved one who is injured.
  • What to do if you have accomplished your big goal, and you aren’t sure where to look next.

Listen to the Running for Real Podcast

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Inspirational Quotes

It feels like cement is slowly drying in all your body parts, and nothing wants to keep going.

After an injury, it kind of makes you reevaluate how much you want to be back running. When you are not able to run and you are on the bike or in the pool, this is exactly what I want to do, I really want to get back and I am gonna come back better.

Those glimpses of really good training and running really well are what keep you going. If I hadn’t had that really good training camp, I don’t know, would I still be running? I would probably feel like my best is behind me, and all these injuries are my body telling me you are not really able to hurt any more.

When I got out of my teens into my late 20s, it was always about qualifying for championships, running personal bests. I had somewhere along the way forgotten to enjoy it all.

When you have been an athlete for so long, if you identify with being an athlete… when you get injured, you can no longer be an athlete, you are not able to run anymore or do that thing that defines you.  You go through an identity crisis, and you think, “well, what am I now if I can’t run?”

Thinking about the end time when you still have a race to run is pretty much pointless, because, okay, you are going to run the race, but you don’t have huge control over what that time is.

Try to do the best race you can every time and going through each step… If I put that plan into place, and I come up with the time, brilliant, but standing on the start line thinking, “I have to run this time, I have to run this time,” you are already tense, you are already nervous and probably your race plan is going to go out the window.

Races will come, races will go, but if you enjoy it, it doesn’t really matter.

This race will never be as hard as some of the training sessions you have done. The training sessions you have done are much harder. This is a one off race, a showcase of all the hard work you have put in for the last couple of months, don’t chicken out yet. Give it your best, you haven’t worked for the last 8 months to chicken out now. Go and enjoy it.

Resources Mentioned

Thanks for listening! I hope you enjoyed today’s episode.

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Thank you to Jessie.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show

injury, mental training, olympian

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