It's been a long time since you've had a set back, said a friend about a month before my hamstring quit playing. Sigh. I think she jinxed me and now I want to set her back. [You know who you are.]

It's true though. I've been lucky. The last time I had an injury was 2014. I broke my calf. Well, It felt like that anyway. Way back then, while warming up for a 5k, I started my skips and bounds and then BOOM. You know that sound of the bass drop when the space ship jumps to hyperspace? Yeah. I heard that. I thought I'd been shot. And I nearly dropped to the ground. It made me nauseaus and woozy. I hobbled into the expo of the race and found some ice for my calf and a glass of wine for my feelings and cried while all my friends finished their race. The next morning,  I remember lying on the floor of our sunroom and crying to Ace; whining that I couldn't run and that it hurt to sleep and I'd never be able to race again and and blah blah freaking blah.

This hamstring injury was not as dramatic as that.  But, I AM. And I'd knew I'd have a come-apart at some point. I haven't had as many tears, but I did have a mini-freak-out about two weeks in. There is a fear that snuck in and said - it's over. Discouragement took over. It said: you'll never get it back. Shame played its part: how could you let this happen?  Pity had a party: everyone else is running, why can't I? and But, I don't want to be injured.

I knew what to do: I called my coach/mentor/friend to talk me off the ledge. The next day at swim practice she brought me a goodie bag. It was filled with lotions and potions and her Compex and a note that read: you are a ROCKSTAR. It made me smile and I stepped away from the Cliffs of Insanity. 

I decided to see this as a TIME-OUT. In basketball (#goheels), time-outs are called for various reasons: to stop the momentum of the other team, to change up your game strategy, to draw up a specific play, fire up the team or rest your players. I'm resting this player.

GIVE GRACE: It's one of the 4Gs. In the middle of this GRUEL (another G), I am giving myself a little GRACE. A little forgiveness. A little time. A little love. Whenever there's a run in my plan, I've given myself the gift of a massage, or a PT session, or a freakin' nap! Give it to yourself and your aching body. Don't rush the process.  Give yourself the time to heal. Rest.

DRAW UP A SPECIFIC PLAY:  Make a plan to get back into the game. Make it as specific as you can. I often tell my athletes that my advice for coming back from an injury is the same that a doctor would give to an addict leaving rehab and fearing relapse: YOU CANNOT GO BACK TO THE SAME DOSE YOU HAD WHEN YOU STOPPED. So create a plan - or hire a coach to help you create a plan - that eases you back into your normal training load. Otherwise, you will overdose.

FIRE IT UP/LOOK FORWARD: Get excited. I have had to drop three races off my schedule this spring. Instead of wondering what could have been, I've had to shift to thinking about what IS on my schedule. I've gotten to make new goals.  I've fired up my YouTube browser to find inspirational videos. Use this time to imagine what it will be like to come back from the setback. How will this add to your story?

LOOK BACK: Reflect on your successes from the past few months. Enjoy your victories from last year! And, you can always go back to your one word. Go back to the word you chose for this year and ask a million questions, starting with: how can I see this as............? [Gratitude? Resolve? Honor? Posture? FillintheBlankWithYourWord].  My one word for 2018 is FULL-CIRCLE. So, my question is: How can I see this as FULL-CIRCLE? The answer: One of the reasons I got into triathlon is because I got injured running! I was bored and had a now-forgotten injury (bursitis in my hip?). I knew that swimming and biking would make me a well-rounded athlete and was great cross-training. Plus, it felt just like being a kid again! How's that for FULL-CIRCLE?!

Plus, the year I had my calf strain, when I didn't run for six weeks and wore a boot at night and acting like a whiny-wort was the year that I had my best Ironman (by an hour) and placed third in my age-group. #thebestisyettocome

Whether you're injured or stuck, you can use these four tools to set yourself up for the next right step. How do you set yourself up for your comeback?