Running Chat I: Coping with Injury
|September 17, 2011||Posted by Sweet Tooth Runner under Running Talk|
It’s Running Chat Sat(urday)!!
This is a new blog series I’m starting, because I love talking about running more than pretty much anything! Today’s is on dealing with injury, and is a topic that affects pretty much EVERY runner/athlete at some point in their running career, and is one that is affecting me right now, so it’s as good a time as any to talk about it!
Until yesterday, I was feeling relatively ok about my injury. I had accepted it. (For those of you who don’t know, I have Tibial ‘Bone Stress’, which is basically early onset stress fracture, so just one more run could cause it!) But sometimes things happen which brings back all those negative feelings temporarily. For me, this was receiving my half marathon race pack in the mail:
I don’t know as yet whether or not I’ll actually be able to run it, but honestly, things aren’t looking good on that front! I have pretty much accepted that I WON’T be running it. Even if I WAS allowed to run after four weeks, running 13.1 miles on the roads probably wouldn’t be the best idea! This, coupled with the fact that today I am missing what would have been my first ever proper race today with my team made me a bit sad.
In the short and sweet year (and a month) that I have been running, I have spent more time injured than not, and more money on physio appointments than on anything else this year!
Here’s my Injury Timeline:
Freak Ankle Sprain (caused by walking and twisting ankle in snow) —-> Severe Shin Splints (caused in part by the badly healed ankle sprain) —-> left hip problem (caused by the shin splints) —-> mild case of Runner’s Knee —-> ‘Tibial Bone Stress’, aka, early onset of stress fracture (thought to be caused by bone density issues)
So I’m fairly experienced on the injury front! These are my Top Ten Tips for Coping With Injury:
- Positivity. Definitely easier said than done sometimes, but this is THE most important thing in my opinion!! Studies have proven that athletes recover faster and come back stronger when they tackle injuries with a positive mindset. Being a Negative Nancy is not going to help you in any way, and will only make you more miserable and possibly even affect your recovery. It’s fine and totally natural to be upset and angry at first, but then put that aside and move forward!
- Have a good support system. Friends and family are SO important to me, especially in times like this when I am going slightly insane from lack of running! Even though none of them understand as such, they all empathise and are amazingly supportive! I couldn’t get through injuries, or ANYTHING, without their love and support! Also, the support and constant advice of a good physio that you trust is essential, both during the recovery process AND afterwards for helping you get back to running.
- Set new goals for yourself, and try new things. Last time when I was injured, I used the time off to really focus on yoga and improve in that, seeing as I don’t normally have a lot of time for it with my usual running schedule. And it worked! I improved so much and it made me stronger and more flexible too for when I returned to running, and took my mind off not running! This time I think I will focus on lots of strength training. Or you can use the time off running to become a more rounded person and try other activities! I find that when I’m not running, I have MUCH more time than normal, so instead of sitting around I try to embrace it and do things I couldn’t normally!
- Cross train. This will not only help retain some hard-earned CV fitness, but help you keep your sanity! Use injury time to try new things, or get better at others, like swimming. I know it can be mentally tough sometimes when you don’t feel like cross training and you just want to RUN, but keep telling yourself that this will benefit your running! Regardless, it definitely beats sitting around getting depressed!
- Learn your lessons, but don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes, injuries are a freak accident, and there is nothing you can do to help it. But more often than not, they are the result of a mistake you have made in your training, whether than is increasing mileage/intensity too much, or simply not listening to your body. Recognise where you went wrong, but don’t get angry at yourself about it! Mistakes are GOOD in helping you learn valuable lessons! And once learned, you rarely make the same mistake again
- Focus on what you CAN do, and not on what you CAN’T. The first time I was injured, I focused solely on what I was missing, and on my loss of fitness, and not on what I could do to heal fastest. That attitude got me NOWHERE except to make me miserable! I now focus more on how to help myself heal and my plan of action to get myself back into running after I’ve recovered.
- Never give up. Sometimes injury time can feel endless, and you just want to give in to the temptation of throwing on some running shoes, but DON’T! You may just make things worse, and end up having to take another few months off instead of a couple more days/weeks. Your body knows how to heal itself, so trust it and don’t give up hope!
- Think long term, not short term. Instead of focusing on the races or workouts you are missing now, just focus on the fact that this is just a few weeks/months out of YEARS you have to run and improve! You have a LIFETIME to run! Even if you end up missing a race that is important to you, just remember that there will be so many more in the future.
- Know that you will come back STRONGER! Dealing with injuries is so tough, and it is undoubtedly a physical setback, but you can ALWAYS gain back fitness! In fact, the good thing about certain injuries, such as stress fractures, is that you actually DO come back physically stronger, as the bone is stronger after healing. You also come back MENTALLY stronger from injuries, and often wiser too!
- Never forget that being a runner is not what defines you. You are not JUST a runner, but so much more than that! Much as you love running, never let it become WHO YOU ARE. “Always remember that running is something you do and love, but not what defines you…just remember that you are are SO MUCH MORE than a person who likes to run.” ~ Kara Goucher
My short running career has definitely tested my sanity, but it has given me so much JOY that I wouldn’t change it for the world
Thoughts? Have you ever had any major injuries and time off? How do you stay sane when injured?
I’m out right now at a party, so I’ll see y’all tomorrow! Have a great weekend! <3