I Quit on Myself

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.  – John C. Maxwell


At the beginning of the year I suffered a stress fracture and I wasn’t mentally strong enough to handle the limitations of an injury. I am not talking about what the doctors and performance therapists said I could or could not do. I am referring to the limitations I put on myself. The mental handcuffs.

I went from complete confidence in the desire to pursue my goals to constantly doubting my mental toughness.  The examples are many but one thought sticks with me the most. Before the injury, I’d wake up with the determination and joy to run. To not only run but to push myself further than I had on the previous training run. If the goal was to run seven miles with a walk break in the middle then I would skip the break and run all the way through. What I felt, was a different sort of runner’s high. I was getting high off my ability to achieve a goal. Something that had been seriously lacking in my life up until that point.

After the injury, where I would push through before, is when I would mentally go into the tank now. This time on the bike. Specifically on the trainer. That’s a damn hard thing for me to admit. To tell myself that I quit because of whatever crap rational I made up. “Michael, it’s your ankle. Let up.” Or “I can’t get my heart rate down. I need to take it easy.”

I didn’t physically get off the bike and walk away – only psychologically. Did I do it all the time? No. But enough times that it started to affect my confidence.

It was only when my friend, Wendy Rogers, noticed what was going on did she walk over to me after class for a chat. You see, Wendy is a straight talker and that’s exactly what she gave me and exactly what I needed to hear.

To paraphrase Wendy, she said, “That is the second time you quit on that same interval this week. If you continue to allow yourself to do that, you always will let yourself quit when it gets tough.”

At that moment, I realized it was time to get off the struggle bus and take myself seriously again. If I didn’t, I knew full well I would find all the excuses in the world not to achieve my goal and I would blame it on everything but myself.

So, here’s what I learned the slow way about injuries and life in general:

  1. Injuries are inevitable.
  2. How you respond determines how you will recover.
  3. If you tell yourself lies, you always will believe them.
  4. It’s never as hard as you “think” it is. (It’s all mental)
  5. Surround yourself with friends who won’t let you quit.
  6. Never take your eyes off your goal.


Featured image by Shannon Houlihan