©Kees Nouws Fotografie

Don't Crack After a Setback

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A Growth Mindset Journey

Life is full of unexpected challenges; no matter how hard you’ve worked you cannot control everything. But when you spend too much energy being frustrated by things you cannot control, you’ll miss out on the good stuff. Although I am not the next Yohan Blake or Jessica Ennis, I like to see myself as a professional athlete. By the end of 2014 I had won 12 national titles, was 16th on the rolling-forward 800m world ranking and was training harder than ever.

“Train, eat, sleep, repeat; I did all I could and believed 2015 was going to be my year.”

Then I broke my ankle… An easy run in the forest, a misplaced step on the root of a tree and instead of preparing for the Athletics World Championships I was walking on crutches for 7 weeks. The initial frustration I felt was enormous, but I soon realised self-pity wasn’t going to speed up the healing process.

Recovery became my training for the day.
Recovery became my training for the day.

Your mindset is key

“With my broken ankle, I learned to enjoy the process of achieving something and not only focus on the achievement itself.

I started with boring recovery exercises, hourly endurance sessions on the bike, but also had time to look at the possibilities that came with this situation; finally I could spend time with my friends and family, suspend my everlasting diet and help out some colleagues by working more hours.

Always keep your goals in sight.
Always keep your goals in sight.

Remain focused

When you apply a positive attitude in everyday life, you can deal with the situation if something unexpected happens. Excuses may bring comfort, but they won’t bring you forward! Keep your goal in mind and focus on the process.

“When your promotion isn’t approved, when your design isn’t picked or you’re buried in your work: Take a step back, take stock of the challenges ahead and learn from your experiences. Remember: The road to success isn’t smooth!”

View negatives as positives

Performing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is my ultimate goal. The international entry standard for 800m is 2:01.50 (a time I’ve run over 7 times in my life). Unfortunately the Dutch federation decided only to send athletes that can run 2:00.00, which means I have to run a personal best to make it to the Olympics. It’s frustrating, but I cannot change the Federation’s decision. All I do now is focus on training hard, being a better athlete than I’ve ever been and seeing this Dutch standard as a positive instead of a negative. The challenge lies in the fact that to have a shot at making it to the final I would have to run a 2.00.00 anyway.  

Sanne Verstegen
©Kees Nouws Fotografie

With all the travelling, training camps in the sun and good times in exotic countries, the life of an athlete sounds appealing and it mostly is. Just like with all other things in life: As long as it gives you joy, keep doing it. Know that there can and will be setbacks.

“When the setbacks happen, let them serve as opportunities to re-evaluate and keep you and your team on their toes: The process is the goal, results will follow.

You cannot create your whole future, but if you choose to work with your talent and tools at hand, at least you can shape it.

How have you come back from sporting or professional setbacks? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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by aman 10.03.2016
great blog, very motivating. my story will have to await an autobiography, still under WIP:)
by Vanessa 10.03.2016
Great! It is nice to know that there is someone who has pretty same experiences. I had London 2012 in my mind and as an athlete you know, what ever it takes you never give up. So I prepared myself about many years beside school exams, personal stuff and many more. I trained nearly five times a week to run faster, jump higher and longer. The other two days I used to do some different types of sport. Just to have fun with friends, without any goals and to balance my training.

Then how it always works...you did not think about anything worse, one jump to block a ball in a volleyball match and while you are landed you step on a feet of a rival. - It took eight weeks of recovery and after that I was able to train for the first time. But after this accident many more followed.

So I decided to reduce my training, listend to my body and set new goals. Sure, an athlete will be an athlete forever. You transfer your developed values and attitudes from sport into your whole life.

What I would like to underline is that it does not matter if anything will not be like you imagined. Just your creation out of those situation counts.

I decided to study sport- and eventmanagement just to be an athlete even in an other environment.
by Silvio Menezes 17.03.2016
What a great article as I am going thru a set back.
by XXX 18.03.2016
That was truly an inspiring and motivating article with a message saying that we should move on with our life fighting with the negative aspects and turn it to a positive factor. Good one, I like the way it is written and described.
by Brian Gerrard 31.03.2016
An interesting article on how to accept and handle bad injurys, that mess up you training and targets you are aiming for. As an ex athlete having gone through major back surgery , and now at 64 yaers of age, had complete knee replacement, I think it about atitude and how you but yourself back into the gym to carry out the most basic exercises to rehabilitate your body back to a working base of ability to start building your strength and fitness to get back on track, some people would call it " bloody mindedness" doing exercise when you are injured but it works, for the mind and the body.
by 247 viz 03.06.2016
It's all about how you handle the negative into positive. Being not on the contest or in a thing that you'd prepared so much to be on the race. But maybe, in your mind - you are but your body aren't.

First time here?