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What will Radcliffe need to do mentally for London 2012

Paula Radcliffe is on her way to another Olympic’s after making Britain’s team for the 2012 Olympic Games. Although Radcliffe has had many career successes she has also had many challenges due to injury. Generally when a runner sustains multiple injuries during a career this is because her body is breaking down due to over-training.

Successes

Paula Radcliffe has been running for a long time. At 38 she’s had a lot of experience running which has led her to a lot of success. A marathon world champion in 2005, three-time winner of the London Marathon and three-time champion of the New York City Marathon, Radcliffe is training to banish those Olympic memories (AP).

Injuries

But she’s also had a lot of injury. In 2004 in Athens, she withdrew three miles from the finish because of a stomach problem. She was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left femur three months before the 2008 Beijing Games and limped to the line in 23rd place. Radcliffe completed her first marathon in two years in Berlin in September. After a series of injuries and a 19-month break in which she had her second child (AP). 

Injuries and over-training

Although physical factors are the primary cause of injury, when an athlete continues to get injured this usually means they are not following treatment protocol to fully recovery. This generally stems from a mental need to get ‘back in the game’ particularly when that athletes identity is tied being a 2012 Olympian.

Unidimensional identity

Professional athletes or in the case Olympian’s are often identify so much with their sport that it’s as if there is nothing else. These athletes tend to have no balance in their lives and spend a majority of their time training which again leads to injury but also isolation, loneliness, depression, etc.

Mentally what will Radcliffe need to do

In her own words: “I have become — not totally philosophical and laid-back about it — but a bit more relaxed about it,” Radcliffe said. “I’ve seen ups and downs and I’ve had a long career. I’m able to step back and be thankful for the success I’ve had.

“But part of me still hopes there is a little luck owed to me in terms of staying healthy (AP).”

In order for Radcliffe to avoid injury and do her best in London it seems as though a little bit of a relaxed attitude, some balance and being realistic are a necessary part of her mental game plan. It’s also important for her to step outside of what she’s always done and find a little bit of a different way of ‘being’ in the sport so she doesn’t get injured.

Good luck Paula!

Happy Wednesday!

Dr. Michelle

Photo credit: Sugar Pond