I just came back from an AMAZING backpacking trip through a remote area of Yellowstone with my hubby and 4 close friends…We had been looking forward to this trip since we booked it in March, but had been researching it since November of last year.

I wanted to be ready, so I trained…yes, I trained for a backpacking trip. I put weight in my pack and picked hard hiking routes…meticulously increasing the weight and mileage each time. I wanted to be ready for our hardest day. And I was.

But sometimes, regardless of how well you diligently train, bad things can still happen….and for me, it started on the third day…6 miles into what ended up being a really hard 14 mile day. I felt a little ping in my knee, and I brushed it off, telling myself that it was nothing and I was just overreacting….I had trained, I was ready, I just needed to keep moving.

Then it pinged me again…a little harder this time. I took a little ibuprofen thinking it was still nothing, but that I would be overly cautious…

Then it really started to ping me



We weren’t at camp…in fact, I think we were still 3.5 miles away (aka: more than an hour’s hike) from camp when I finally threw my hiking poles down in defeat and conceded that I was going to have to offload things in my pack to others. I was trying really hard to not cry at this point…I don’t get injured easily or often, because I train and recover intelligently. I take pride in how I train for things, and here I was, on the top of a mountain, with a knee that was swollen and in an insane amount of pain. This wasn’t some old injury rearing it’s head at a bad time, it was completely unexpected.

I was injured.

There’s a lot of emotional crap that comes with being injured, especially when one views themselves as an athlete or as being in shape. There’s this “This can’t possibly happen to me, that happens to other people” mentality that sets in, and when injury does happen, it really knocks a blow to the ego and psyche. This happens to people of all abilities (I was just on the phone with a client last night struggling with the same exact scenario).

How can one emotionally cope with being injured? Well, here’s a few tips…

  1. Reframing – reframing is the practice of making lemonade out of lemons. On the hike, I kept telling myself “If anyone is going to have to do 14 miles with a 40# backpack on, it’s this group – we are totally fit and totally capable” – sometimes just reminding yourself that you are capable helps you from falling down too far.
  2. Positive Affirmations – “I am strong, I am healthy, this is only temporary, I am capable” – reminding yourself of your abilities is good, even if your abilities are temporarily less than they used to be. I was still able to walk (even though it was done with great caution), I knew nothing was broken and that this injury was not going to be long term (it felt like a classic over-use injury).
  3. Celebrate ALL the Small Successes – I was excited when I woke up the next day in slightly less pain than I went to sleep with. I was excited I could easily walk an easy trail with an empty pack. The ability to fiercely celebrate your small successes allows you to get through the tough parts because they’re not “as bad” as if you only focus on the negatives.

Overall, we made it out, my knee is on the mend, and I’ll attempt to run in a few days. But I know I need to take it easy, and give special attention to my knee/leg now so that it doesn’t continue to bother me int he long term. Small steps will make a world of difference.

How do you reduce the emotional blow of an injury?

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