Injury, setbacks and the ego

Ground level view of a runner showing only the moving legs

I’m struggling with a few things right now – injury, setbacks and the ego. Usually I respond by withdrawing. I internalise and overthink everything, which invariably gets me stuck deeper. This time I’m doing it differently and putting it in black and white. It feels risky to be honest, but I’m telling myself these things are common enough they’ll resonate with others. So what is it that I’m struggling with?


First is to admit out loud that I can’t run the Manchester Marathon on Sunday. The calf injury I’ve been carrying for over a month just keeps flaring up. Over the last 3 weeks the longest I’ve sustained a run is just 17 minutes before having to stop. I knew that to continue would just cause more damage and prolong recovery. It’s been like this since before the NYC Half back in early March. I’ve not been able to shake it off.

Then there’s having to tell people, like my Team Vassos colleagues, who I will meet on Sunday Morning and cheer on, and the Manchester friends I’ve arranged to meet. Telling people makes the reality concrete and inescapable to me. I can hear the words coming out of my mouth and I feel like a loser.

It would be one thing to just not turn up for the race, ignore instagram for a few days, and quietly ignore my lack of participation, pretending it’s not really a thing. That would be another version of withdrawing from the situation. But for this race I broadcast my intent, and was selected as one of a team of inspirational runners under the rallying cry #DontStopMeNow. The irony is perfect, especially when you know the challenges the other team members have already overcome just to be at the start.

Ego, the seven headed monster

This is all my ego of course, looking for ways to ignore the truth or pretend it’s not happening, in its dumb attempt to protect us both. But knowing this hasn’t helped shift this mood as I would like.

Behind all this is the injury itself; something I still have to solve and don’t yet know how. With both the Berlin and NYC marathon entries lined up in the Autumn this is on my mind when I’m being rational enough to see the real issue. That’s where my focus should be when I can wrestle my attention away from that ego.

Finally there’s the related challenge to get my head into a better space, to feel energised and focused on keeping fit and healthy, ready to begin a new marathon training cycle, not to mention being present for the people around me who could use my support instead of being a miserable self-obsessed grump. There are more important things fella!


I’ve been through this, and worse, before; from a torn meniscus ending my first Big Sur training cycle 14 weeks in, to getting away with a broken back in a snowboarding tumble. So I have plenty of perspective. That’s a much used mantra of mine, perspective. It keeps me anchored and gives me permission to feel frustrated and disappointed. Getting past a setback like an injury is a process. Perspective reassures my rational mind there is a way through, and quietens that demanding ego. Perspective reminds me there’s a lot more in the world beyond the confines of my one particular situation in which I’m the only the character.

Frustration and disappointment are understandable; they can be worked through so I’m aiming to keep it there. Having goals or plans is a big help. I have concrete goals for two more marathons this year and that brings focus and perspective. That gives me a long game to focus on.

It’s helpful to write it all down and remind myself of the power that perspective brings in staying positive and in taking attention away from the debilitating ego. Perspective is how I battle my ego.

Thanks for reading.

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