39 | Triathlete Lesley Paterson: Channeling Your Passion

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“There's this feeling when you feel like you could fly and when you're that fit, when you're that peaked. For me it was always being out in nature, being out on the trails, being connected with the land. And when you can't do that because you're in continual chronic pain—that was a travesty. That's the piece of me that is my soul and the reason I do this, so when you take away all of that, you’re left feeling so desperate.”

Some injuries have a clear treatment plan and a defined timeline for recovery. Others are much more difficult to decipher, and leave athletes wondering what to do and when they’ll be back training and competing again.

In her 15 years as a professional triathlete, Lesley Paterson has encountered essentially every type of setback—often going from, as she puts it, “superhero status” to struggling with daily functions like sitting and driving. In this week’s episode, she talks us through how she’s coped with all of them, most significantly a chronic high hamstring/lower back/piriformis problem that’s affected her for nearly a decade.

When she’s down for the count, Lesley—who now competes in XTERRA, or off-road triathlon—has learned how to redirect her considerable energy into her rehab and recovery. But that alone isn’t enough, the five-time world champion points out.

Athletes also need to find a way to connect with another source of joy. Her other passion is filmmaking, but it could be a hobby, relationship, or any other pursuit that keeps you moving forward when times are tough, she says.

A huge thank you to our sponsors for this episode: Fluid Running and 2Toms. Fluid Running makes it possible to maintain your peak physical fitness even when you're injured through the power of deep water running. And 2Toms provides advanced sweat proof, waterproof blister and chafing protection products that keep you moving. Listen for special discount codes in the episode!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How injuries are viewed in XTERRA and other endurance sports, and the difference between how athletes see acute and chronic injuries (6:52)
  • How she helps her athletes work through chronic injuries, and why she sometimes calls them lazy (8:06)
  • Where her stop-at-nothing mindset comes from (10:04)
  • How her worst, longest term injury developed, taking her from the top of the world to her lowest low (13:55)
  • Why she feels her powerful drive is both her greatest gift and her biggest downfall—and how her art helps her to balance the two (20:11)
  • That time she broke her shoulder during a race and finished it anyway (23:29)
  • How she built her support system, and why that’s been so critical (29:10)
  • The way she and her sport psychologist/co-coach husband navigate their many different roles (33:34)
  • How she helps her athletes visualize the root causes of their injuries—and why personality matters when choosing a health care provider (35:04)
  • The silver linings she’s taken from the pandemic, including an exciting new film project (37:48)
  • Her advice to other injured athletes about finding that “positivity fuel” to keep you moving forward (48:37)

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DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational & informational use only and & does not constitute medical advice. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have heard in an episode of this podcast. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with a qualified medical professional for proper evaluation & treatment. Guests who speak on this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions, and The Injured Athletes Club podcast hosts nor any company providing financial support endorses or opposes any particular treatment option discussed in the episodes of this podcast and are not responsible for any actions or inactions of listeners based on the information presented. The use of any information provided is solely at your own risk.

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