Resilience & Recovery

December 18, 2023

The mental toughness that runners possess fascinates me. These people regularly run through the pain barrier during long distance races, or even in the build-up to races during their training. I saw it first hand on Peter Ryan’s Malin to Mizen ultra-run. The toughness required to stay committed to the task at hand despite the toll it was taking on him physically was immense.

I spoke to Mark Prylowski who ran this years’ Dublin Marathon and suffered a couple of injury setbacks along the route, but still managed to somehow finish the race out regardless. He told me what he felt on the run and how it affected him, ‘I got to the 16-mile marker, and I could feel my groin tweaking a bit so I stopped and did a few stretches. I walked for about a mile and tried running again, the stretches seemed to work. Everything was going fine until I hit the next mile and then I felt a little mini explosion in the lower left part of my calf. Again, I did the usual stretches and then walked for a while. I tried running but I could feel the calf go again. I ended up running/walking the rest of the marathon. I went to the physio about 2 weeks after the marathon because the calf pain was not going away. He explained to me that I had a grade 2 tear of the myotendinous junction of the gastrocnemius muscle with a grade 1 strain to the Achilles’ tendon.’

Mark insisted that it wasn’t anything to do with a lack of preparation, explaining ‘I was up to 21 miles in my prep up to the marathon, which I think was just enough for the big day. So, I had the prep work all done, I had a good nights’ sleep the night before, and on the day for some reason I wasn’t getting the usual butterflies that I was supposed to be feeling.’

Mark has not been able to run for seven weeks now and told me that he has ‘never experienced such a bad injury’ in all his time running. The time off without being able to run is difficult, but he clarified that his return date to the roads is January 2024. Recovery can be tough to go through mentally. Having trained daily in preparation for an event and then getting injured and suddenly having that routine taken away from you is a real battle and can be a struggle for people.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for people, however. If you can come out the other side of an injury and overcome the initial worry of re-injuring yourself, you can achieve your goals and more once again.

I spoke to Aaron Horan who broke his ankle and ruptured ligaments from the bone just over two years ago and was told he would never play any sport ever again. Since then, he has gone on to do ‘numerous half marathons, 3 marathons and a 60km ultra marathon just recently for charity.’ This kind of resilience is incredible and truly shows the unique mindset that runners have.

These two men are both at different stages in terms of their injures and recoveries. Mark is in the middle of the battle that is recovery, while Aaron has overcome those hurdles and is showcasing what is possible in the aftermath of such injuries. 

If you have suffered an injury setback and are finding the mental and physical aspect of recovery difficult, just remember that anything is still possible and by setting goals for yourself you can get back to where you want to be. Mark has his sights set on running the Dublin Marathon again in 2024, and we look forward to keeping in touch and seeing how it goes for him!

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