How Abbey D’Agostino Powered Through Recovery

The pro runner suffered an injury in the middle of the Olympics. Here's how she plotted her comeback.

Here’s how she powered through her recovery. (Matt Trappe/New Balance)
abbey d'agostino

During the 5,000 meters at the 2016 Rio Olympics, D’Agostino collided with another runner and took a nasty fall on the track. The image of her and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin helping each other to their feet became an inspiring viral news story about sportsmanship, but D’Agostino was left with a torn ACL and meniscus. After taking five months off, she gradually resumed her full training load. Here’s how she powered through her recovery.

Pay attention to energy drains. Social media is a positive thing in a lot of ways, but during my injury it could really breed comparison and negativity.”

“I take a day off every week, which is pretty unusual for pro runners. At first it was hard for me to accept that I could do that without detracting from my competitiveness. But a day of rest for your mind, body, and soul is really important.”

“Journaling is crucial for me. I’ve always been someone who values time to reflect. This became really critical after my surgery, because I could look back and see the progress I’d made.”

Focus on the controllables. The hardest part of getting injured was not being able to trust in the same things afterward. But I have a coach who knows me and knows what I’m capable of. And I can control the positivity I approach a workout with.”

“Practice self-care. Allow yourself to take a night on your own. For me, as an introvert, this helps to balance out the emotionally taxing parts of cross-training and rehab.”

Podcasts and audiobooks help pass the long, redundant hours of cross-training without disengaging me from the workout. Some of my favorites are TED Radio Hour, NPR’s On Point, Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud, and Scary Close by Donald Miller.”

“Cross-training usually makes me sweat more than running, so electrolyte replacement was a priority. I would come home from the gym or pool longing for salty foods like chips and hummus, dried chickpeas, and peanut butter on toast. After listening to that craving, I realized it was exactly what my body needed.”

Find an identity beyond your sport. A break makes it easier to see the bigger picture.”

I bring index cards with mantras to my elliptical sessions. Two phrases that I find helpful are ‘Check and adjust’ and ‘You are never alone.’ ”

“One of the hardest things to do as an athlete is to listen to your body and treat recovery as a discipline. But you can out-recover the competition by considering time off as part of your training.”

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