Guest Blog: When Life Gives You Lemons

Foreword: you only have to scroll your facebook timeline to see that sharing good news is infinitely easier than sharing bad news. And often when things go from bad to worse it can be difficult to publicly pen down any news at all (hence the lengthy gap since my last BLOG, sorry!). In summary, April-August has been an exhausting 5-months of fire-fighting. Specifically, trying to put out 3 consecutive incidents of the dreaded i-word. Injuries are of course part-and-parcel occupational hazards for all pro athletes, though not for everyone in equal measure. However, it is the timing (and frequency) of injuries that can be so cruel, and ultimately, career defining.

The engine failures I’ve been struck by this summer placed me out of contention to be selected for the Commonwealth Games and recent European Championships. Competing whilst injured, twice (disclaimer: kids do not try this at home) meant I managed to salvage a UK Top 10 ranking and selection for the European Club Championships in Portugal for the first time, but with consolation comes little satisfaction.

Someone who has been a real inspiration to me, in how they’ve handled being dealt a similar black-jack this summer, is friend, Uni mate, and fellow dream-chaser Non Stanford (pictured left). A penciled in Commonwealth Gold Medal favourite at the start of this year, her honest and open account shows how these sometimes unforeseeable and inexplicable speed bumps can slow down even the very best in the world. This was was an uplifting and cathartic read for me, and for many others currently dealing with setbacks I’m sure #keepjuicing. So without further ado, please enjoy a guest blog by Non, ITU Triathlon World Champion 2013:

When life gives you lemons…

Well I’ve pretty much got a swimming pool of lemonade out back right now.

And last week I got my second truckload of freshly delivered lemons.

I can’t quite believe that I’m sat here having to write this. I try to avoid using my blog as an avenue for venting frustration and making excuses. But after 3 months of avoiding questions of when I’ll be back and how things are going, I thought I would provide some answers and explanations. Well in my own round about way at least. After so many humbling messages of concern and support I feel it’s the least I can do.

The first delivery of yellow goods arrived back in March when I tore my plantar fascia. At first I didn’t quite know what I was supposed to do with them. I definitely quietly contemplated their presence for a few days. Was I supposed to simply ignore them and hope they disappeared? Maybe throw them around aggressively and let everyone else know how damn unhappy I was that they had inconveniently, without being ordered, arrived on my doorstep?

I considered the latter option. But I feared a back splash of lemon juice to open wounds would be quite painful. Plus I guessed no one else would massively appreciate the potential mess it would leave.

So instead I decided to crutch them out back and crack on as best I could. I was pretty lucky that I had great team of people and the sweetest group of friends to assist me. I kept smiling, stayed positive and tried to enjoy doing something different for a change.

Come May I’d pretty much juiced all the lemons. There were a few remaining but I was working hard to finish the job. It looked like the lemonade would be ready just in time for summer! I missed a few parties but the promise of doing the funky chicken in London kept me going.

Unfortunately London rolled around quicker than I could work. The final product wasn’t quite sweet enough. It definitely left a slight bitter taste in my mouth. It was one of the tougher days for sure.

It was also that weekend that the rumbles of the next delivery could be heard. An unexplained pain in my ankle started to bother me. As a rehabbing athlete I was on high alert, and any new pain caused mild panic. I’m incredibly lucky to have a great medical team at my fingertips, ready and willing to listen to my irrational worries!

Within a day I was lying in an MRI unit. And by the evening? Yep turns out lemons can be delivered after 8pm. Now that’s customer service for you.

“Navicular stress response” said the delivery man.
“@*$! off” I replied.
I thought the driver had got the wrong address. I couldn’t possibly have a stress response.
“I’ve barely run a step since March!” I pleaded. “These are not my lemons!”

Turns out they are my lemons. Looks like it’ll take a couple of months to make palatable lemonade with them too. Apparently Glaswegians don’t like lemonade either. But I’ll keep juicing regardless.

I’m hoping my lemonade will be ready for a Canadian summer. But these things can’t be rushed. It’ll have to be a work in progress, only to be drunk when it’s sweet enough. I guess that’s in the hands of the lemonade gods.

And I suppose, after all this, it’s a good job I quite like lemonade!


check out Non’s website:

Lemons suck!




About JA

professional athlete
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