Ruth Astle pulls back the curtain on mental side of injury with Challenge Roth a doubt

Staff Reporter

British triathlete Ruth Astle has given a very honest assessment of the mental challenges she has faced as she deals with an injury that has already hampered the first half of her season and looks to rule her out of this months clash at Challenge Roth.

The PTO World #38, who has only finished one race so far in 2023, has struggled with a calf injury since the start of the season, meaning her running form has been a far cry from her sub-3:00 marathon performance when she won IRONMAN Israel at the tail end of last season.

Looking ahead, Astle has identified the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona as a realistic ‘big’ race to aim to be fully fit for, but reveals that the pressure that comes with only having one real shot at a big race has taken a toll on her mental health.

“Everyone finds it tough”

Breaking down the mental component of injury rehabilitation and having to sit on the sidelines, Astle says that the feelings associated with restricted training is felt by many athletes, especially in this part of the season.

YouTube video

“Obviously everyone knows when you’re injured it’s a bit s***. Everyone finds it quite tough to deal with, especially at this point of the season. All you see is everyone else training and racing so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about it.” 

Astle adds that another reason she thought it would be a good idea to share some thoughts on her current predicament is because the impact it has had on her mental health has been quite the surprise.

“The main reason I thought it would be good is because I have been quite surprised at how hard I have found this injury and dealing with it.

“Previous injuries, it has been a case of this is what it is, this is how I move through it and even though I’ve had my low points I’ve been able to deal with it.” 

Challenge Roth now unlikely

With only three weeks to go until the first big dance of the season over the full distance at Challenge Roth, Astle admitted that the chances of her standing on the start line are pretty slim.

Ruth Astle St George finish line 2022 photo credit Tom Pennington Getty Images for IRONMAN
[Photo credit: Tom Pennington / Getty Images for IRONMAN]

“With this injury, maybe partly because it has dragged out a bit and because it feels like I haven’t really raced this year, it feels like the whole first half of the year there hasn’t been any races and it’s looking very unlikely I’ll be able to do Roth.

“It was a mid year highlight I’d been looking forward to, so when you take all of that away, it’s hard to feel like I’m still an athlete and a good athlete.” 

After coming to terms with the injury following the World Long Course Championships in Ibiza, Astle underlined how getting motivated to train has become tougher too, with the knowledge that racing soon is unlikely compounding that.

“I think the other part of it is the general motivation. Getting back from Ibiza I had the MRI and I thought okay I can use this as my swim and bike period, but I’ve just found that really hard, to the extent that this week, I got to Wednesday, had a poor swim in the morning and couldn’t face cycling, so got into bed and read a book and I did nothing.

“The guilt of knowing I need a bit of a reset vs the guilt of asking myself why am I not out training and doing what I can do is hard to deal with and I’ve just felt really low with it. I know I probably can’t make Roth so Kona is my next big race and chance to do well and show I’m an athlete worth sponsoring.” 

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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