Level Three: Physical Injury
This is the most serious of all three?it means you've pushed through the mental and physical limits to the point where you have given yourself some kind of overuse injury. Instead of training right now, you should be in damage-control mode: foam rolling, massage, icing, NSAIDs, etc. Your mood has also suffered considering that your regular routine has been interrupted and your daily dose of endorphins is gone.
The Solution: With races "right around the corner", it's hard to slow down because you don't want to lose fitness. You think, "I've made it this far, I can't stop now." But you HAVE TO. Remember, the long-term impact of this injury, if not treated, will extend well beyond this season into future years. You must put your training on hold and dive into treatment, being as aggressive, focused and compulsive in recovery as you are with your usual training. Do this and you'll be back on track in no time. Most importantly, you'll be healthy enough to quickly regain any lost fitness.
Hopefully, you either have no idea of what I speak or you are smart enough to have planned for it. Experienced athletes have been down in the dumps before, and they know their bodies (and their limits) well enough to make sure that they never truly hit rock bottom.
Think about building mini-breaks into your season at critical points, typically after big events. Stay flexible: Be willing to modify your schedule to maintain fitness swimming, for example, without exacerbating a running issue. And learn your own body so that you develop a standard self-care routine that ensures nothing flares up.
Listen to, and take care of, your body and it'll help you have a great season.
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