I spent 7 weeks injured this winter, I’ve also had a lot of friends who’ve dealt with injury this year, including one of my best running friends. I’ve been reflecting a lot on injury, and how best to survive (mentally and physically) during the injury, and how to return from injury. I wanted to post about some of my lessons and thoughts.
1. Channel your energy. I am a problem solver, a doer. I feel better about a problem if I’m working towards a solution. When I was injured, I tried to channel my running energy towards all things not running. I made myself a workout schedule, I cross trained like it was my job. Was it the same as running, HELL NO. Did it keep me in “running shape”, honestly, NOPE. It did keep me in decent shape, and most importantly, it made me feel better. Everyone kept telling me, “you’re going to be in better shape than ever when you come back”. Guess what, they were lying. I totally wasn’t in better shape, I was slow as molasses when I first started running, but I survived, and you will too.
2. Throw a tantrum or two. I give you permission, go ahead, scream, yell, cry. It’s ok. NOT running sucks. The non-runners out there totally don’t get this part, but I do, and so do all your running friends. It’s extremely frustrating when your body is not cooperating with your passion. If any of you ever need someone to listen to your tantrum, to be a shoulder to cry on or to just swear and yell with you, please call me. I understand, it sucks.
3. Resist the urge to do too much too soon. It’s so easy to jump back into things too quickly. I know, you’ve taken a lot of time off, you’re starting to feel better, and you’re excited. But don’t do it, don’t jump back into running fast or long. Don’t let the weeks of waiting be for naught. My first few runs back, I refused all offers of friends to run with me. Why? Because I know myself, if my friends are happy running along at their easy pace, and it’s just a bit faster than I know I should be running, but I don’t feel terrible, I’ll just silently run along with them, because I don’t want to be any trouble. This is the time to be selfish. I heard someone say on a podcast recently, that when you are first starting running after a long layoff due to injury, that you should consider the first few runs back as Physio, not as running. Don’t go into the run looking to improve fitness, or to get a workout. You are teaching your body how to run again. That might mean taking a lot of walk breaks, that might mean going extremely slow, and it might mean that you’re only out there for 15 minutes. That’s ok. Take it as slow as your body needs. If you are smart now, then it won’t be long until you’re back to normal again.
4. Don’t cut yourself off. Running is my social life. I’m busy, I work full time, I have two kids, a house, and a husband. I don’t get out much other than my running. During my injury, I obviously wasn’t able to meet friends for runs, but Lori and I kept getting together every week, we’d cross train and strength train together. I’m sure there were times that this was a pain in the ass for her, it made her life more complicated to schedule, but we made it work, and I am so grateful. Take your friends up on offers to workout, weight train, or whatever. I also went to meetups with our local trail group. I did my own thing, I walked during the run portion, and then met them after for food/drinks. Did it make me sad to be around them, it sure did. But, I think it was really good for me, I would have been sad anyway, and sad in a bar having a beer with your friends, is way better than sad at home, wishing you were with your friends. It’s important to remember that your friends don’t care about you because you run, but because you are you. They still want to see you and be around you. Be flexible and make it work.
Any other tips? Are you injured or have you been this year? How have you coped?