After overcoming multiple injuries to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in the nick of time, 5,000-meter runner Jessica O’Connell faced another series of setbacks as she prepared for the Games. 


When she arrived in Rio, she was tempted to view her situation as an anomaly. But the more she talked to other athletes, the more she realized adversity strikes everyone—the best (and luckiest) among us are those who can persevere.


It’s an attitude that’s served her well throughout her running career. Injuries, she says, are now disappointing but not devastating. She can see them that way, in part, because she has a plan to deal with them—a cross-training strategy she’s outlined and shared with runners everywhere in a free, 27-page document called The Back-Up Plan


On this week’s Injured Athletes Club, Jess talks more about the plan and her own experiences with injury. We discuss:

  • How injuries are viewed in running, especially at the Olympic level: with a lot of avoidance and denial (6:51)
  • Her string of injuries, which began in college (8:15)
  • The simple statement from a fellow Olympian that snapped her out of her lowest low (10:50)
  • What gives her confidence when returning from injury (14:27)
  • When and how she came up with the idea to create the Back-Up Plan, a comprehensive cross-training guide for runners (15:52)
  • The mistakes runners often make in cross-training, and how to avoid them (22:28)
  • The advice she gives injured athletes about their mental health (27:05)
  • How she handles difficult interactions with others when she’s injured (31:37)
  • What healthy runners can do to support their injured friends (33:41)
  • The biggest lessons she’s taken from her setbacks, including their virtual inevitability (40:08)




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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.