What does Resilience mean to Me

Funny how the world works. The other day I wrote about burnout, today I’m writing about resilience. In a way, the two go hand-in-hand. How you manage your burnout probably says something about how resilient you are. Don’t worry, I don’t believe resilience is an innate ability, I don’t believe it is a destination, I believe it is a skill and a process.

Let me take you through some of my thoughts on what resilience means to me.

My 2019 opened up with a marathon on January 19th in Houston Texas. It was a resounding success, 8thoverall, with a goal of solely crossing the finish line, I ran well under world championship standard. I was at the event with one of my really good friends, we laughed a lot, she helped me hobble around post-race, and it really seemed like 2019 was off to a great start. 

From there it really felt like my running let me down. 

One coach I was working with announced, quite suddenly, that they no longer wished to continue coaching me. In retrospect, it really was not about me or our relationship this person just needed to do something different.

Add to that, I was running with a group where I was no longer excited to go to practice. In 2018 there had been a fracture in my original training group, and I went one direction to be with a coach, where many of my teammates stayed behind with the other coach. While the people there are wonderful, training with a bunch of high school boys did not make me excited to go to workouts.

In late May I broke my foot. I was on the rebound and wham, out of nowhere, I was sidelined again. I cross-trained to maintain fitness since I’m not sure you can improve running fitness while cross-training, got stronger in other areas, but lost a lot of the ‘feel’ and ‘sharpness’ of my running. 

In late September I donned the maple leaf and represented Canada at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. The heat index was 45.8C/115F the night of my race and I made it to ~20k/12.5mi where I had goosebumps on my arms. My race was over, and I finished it out cheering for my teammates.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of wonderful things happened in 2019 – I finished up my PhD, I celebrated two big milestones with really important people in my life, I started working with some new coaches and a new team that make me excited to go to practice again, and some smaller things that made me smile. 

What makes me resilient is not my ability to cope or manage these events, it is the lessons I learn from these setbacks, the strength I gain from in the rebound. Resilience in my world is about moving on, but first, it is about sitting with the incident to absorb the effects, negative or positive, so your body and brain are stronger when you return. 

This week I’m dedicating to writing about various facets of resilience. It will be a seven-day mini dive into what it means, not just for me but in the worlds of psychology and engineering, how to train this skill, and what resilience is not.