Finding The Silver Lining- Miranda DiBiasio

Today we feature the AMAZING Strong Runner Chick, Miranda DiBiasio! At the start of her senior year of cross country at George Washington University, Miranda was diagnosed with a stress fracture. Miranda wrote a piece about her experience for her university and has been kind enough to share it with us and our readers. Miranda was able to discover “The Silver Lining” through her injury.

Click this link to read the article directly from the site at GWU or read on here…

Stress Fracture.

Two words that every runner never wants to hear. These were two words that I feared more than anything when it came to running. Two words that I had worked so hard to prevent myself from hearing, and had been lucky to never hear in my ten years of competitive running.

It was nearly three months ago when I heard these dreaded two words from my doctor. It was the August before my senior year of college when I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my fifth metatarsal bone on my right foot, a common overuse injury seen in competitive long distance runners.

Hearing these two words brought on so many emotions, feelings, and changes. I felt anger, shed tears, blamed myself, mulled over what I did wrong, had regrets, and experienced an incredible amount of anxiety about what was to come.

I was going into my last year of college. My last cross country season. My last opportunity to prove to myself and others what I was capable of. My last chance to achieve all of the lofty goals I had set for myself. I was coming off a solid outdoor track season, defending my Atlantic 10 Champion status in the 10K, improving my 5K time, and just missing the NCAA East Regional Qualification by two seconds. This season developed a fire in me to achieve my goals and run to my full potential in the upcoming season.

I had a goal. I had a plan. And a stress fracture certainly was not included.

Navy Invitaional Cross Country at the Naval Academy Golf Club in Annapolis, Md., September 12, 2015. Photo by Molly Riley

As I soon found out, I would be off running for at least five weeks, with minimal cross training to start. As any athlete knows, being injured can be one of the toughest battles to face. What was I going to do without participating in the activity that I loved? How was I going to cope? How would I stay in good physical shape with such minimal training? How would this impact my emotional and mental health? Most importantly, how would I lead my team without actually running with them? How was I going to stay positive, upbeat, and resilient, when I felt anything but that?

I know what you’re thinking: It’s just a minor injury, a small set-back. After all, things could be much worse. But this was my first real injury, and it had a major impact on me. For me, this injury was tougher than any mile repeat, hill, or tempo workout I have ever done.

The first month was incredibly difficult. I was not able to do any form of exercise for the first two weeks and was only allowed to swim for the next two weeks. My spirits were low, my thoughts were negative, and I did not have the right attitude. I felt sorry for myself, and worried about how out of shape I was going to get. I worried about how this injury would affect my performance once I was back, and if I was ever going to be able to perform as well as I had before. I knew this was not the way I should be thinking, but it was hard not to let my emotions and thoughts get the best of me.

The turning point in my injury came as I was swimming an arduous three-mile workout during the fourth week of my recovery. I was about 30 minutes into my swim, feeling tired and defeated. My head was filled with negative thoughts, wondering why this had happened to me, why I couldn’t just feel better already, and all the great running I was missing out on. All I was thinking about was how much I wished I could just be back out there running. I wanted so badly to give up. To stop going. To let my mind get the best of me. But then I began to think, why would I ever give up? If I gave up now, I would certainly never achieve my goals. I would let myself down if I gave up. I would never see what I was truly capable of achieving. I thought to myself that the worst of this all was behind me. In that moment I realized that I needed to make a change. I needed to shift my perspective if I wanted to recover and succeed. Immediately I was reminded of one of the greatest quotes I have ever heard from a professor of mine: “Attitude determines your altitude.” I thought about how my negative attitude would not get me anywhere. I then made a pact to myself that I was going to change the way I was thinking. I was going to hold myself to a higher standard and keep my thoughts positive. I would no longer waste my time dwelling on what I should have done, or what I couldn’t do.

This change of perspective did more for me than I could have ever imagined. I began to feel better during my workouts, more energized, and more enthusiastic about my return to running. I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and started seeing the silver linings. By redshirting the fall cross country season, I would be afforded the opportunity to compete again in the fall of 2018. I would now apply to graduate school, and continue to further my education in the field that I love. Redshirting the season would allow me to take my recovery slow, and do things the right way so I would be less likely to reinjure myself. I could use this time to focus on areas of weakness or imbalance that I did not have the time to address before. Once I get back into racing, my legs will be fresh and my body will be stronger. There were so many positives to gain from this experience that I had never considered before because I was too busy dwelling on the negatives.

A good friend of mine told me that you never really understand your full potential as a runner until you’ve been injured. This seems counterintuitive, but as I thought about it more it began to make sense. Before now, I had always taken running for granted. After all, I was always healthy, and never understood what it would be like to have to sit out for an extended amount of time. As I took this step back from running, I began to realize how truly grateful I am for this sport and all that it has given me. I am grateful for all of the amazing people I have in my life who helped me through this experience: My family, friends, coaches, teammates, and everyone within my athletic department. Without them, I would not have even had any success to begin with, let alone the ability to come back from injury and be where I am today. I am thankful for the friendships I have made through this sport and the people I have met. I am grateful for the opportunities that running has given me, the challenges it has presented me, and the confidence it has given me. This injury reminded me how especially grateful I am for my body, my health, strength, and ability to heal.

Experiencing an athletic injury is certainly not fun, but for me this injury served as a great learning experience, an opportunity to grow as an athlete, and a reminder to be grateful for everything running has done for me. I learned to find the silver linings in a tough situation, and focus on the positive, rather than dwelling on the negatives. Although I never wish this had happened, I am glad it did. This injury has showed me how strong I am, both physically and mentally. It has proven to me that I am more resilient, tougher, and more dedicated than I ever thought. I believe that I have grown so much as an athlete from this experience, and that it has only made me stronger. I am beyond excited to get back to doing what I love every day, and I know that from now on I will be sure to enjoy every single second.”

Wow, how powerful!

A couple questions from Miranda to get to know her better:

Please introduce yourself! (Name, age, hometown, event)

My name is Miranda DiBiasio and I am a senior at The George Washington University. I am 21 years old and hail from Cleveland, OH. My favorite event is the 10k, but I also love the 5k. I really enjoy the longer distances, and look forward to racing more half-marathon/marathon after college.

What are your interests outside of running?

Outside of running I enjoy spending time outside, hanging out with friends and family, watching movies, cooking, and adventuring!

What advice do you have for those battling an injury?

My advice to those who are battling an injury is to try to find the positives. Dwelling on the fact that you are sidelined only will make the injury harder to get through. For me, this changed the way I faced my injury. Once I was able to see how much I would grow from the experience, my recovery became easier. Try to look on the bright side. Injury is tough, but there is always something good that can come out of a tough situation. Don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t compare yourself to those who are not injured. Focus on the present moment and getting better each day!

What are some of your favorite cross training and/or rehab exercises?

This summer I got really into outdoor cycling to cross train. I had a lot of fun with this because I was able to still enjoy the great weather and trails despite not being able to run. It also provided me a different kind of physical challenge, which I loved! As far as rehab exercises go, I was given an awesome 7-way hip series by my PT to strengthen my hips and glutes that I love! I will definitely have to share it in a Workout Wednesday soon! I like to focus a lot on hip and ankle strength, stability, and range of motion.

Are there any specific quotes, blogs, podcasts, social media sites, etc. that helped you through an injury?

The SRC blog of course! Truly though, I have been so inspired by the words I have read on this blog. I love hearing from others who have been in similar situations and have great advice to give. It is awesome to hear so many positive things from people I can relate to. There are two mantras that really helped me through my injury. They were: “control the controllables” and “this too shall pass.” Anytime I found myself worrying about things that I could not control or getting upset about my injury, I would remind myself of these words. We can only focus on what is in our control, all else is not worth the anxiety or worry. By focusing on what we can control (our health, recovery, etc) we can ensure proper recovery and keep our minds at ease. I would remind myself that although it may have felt as if time was at a standstill, this period of injury was short term. I needed to remind myself that I would be back doing what I love soon enough.

Any last words of wisdom (related to an injury or not)?

Love yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself! Life is about making mistakes, falling down, and sometimes getting injured! What is important is turning these upsets into opportunities to learn and grow. Trust the process and never stop believing in yourself and your ability to do great things!  🙂

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