Monday, April 16, 2012

10 Ways To Survive Your Injury Without Being a B*tch

If you’ve been running long enough, you’ve been there. It’s the place, much like the porta potty, that no one likes to visit, but everyone eventually has to go. Injury-land.

The only good thing about injuries is that they are {knock on wood} temporary. Even if you are like this guy and you break about every bone in your body and have to spend months upon months recovering, there is usually a very dim light at the end of the tunnel. The light of running, training and racing. It waits for you. I promise.

However, before we can bask in the light, we need to wade through the darkness. How do we navigate through our injury without killing our families, destroying our friendships and resorting to sitting in bed with a super-sized bag of nacho cheese Doritos for days on end?

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Here are a few ways that I got through two significant stress fracture injuries. Both of them sidelined me from running for 12 weeks. I had good and bad days. You will too.

  1. Get perspective – Yes, you are injured. No, the world is not ending (that isn’t until December 2012, so you can wallow then). You became injured because you had the luxury of doing something you loved to do: running. Injury is to running as weight gain is to eating Paula Deen’s cooking . It simply goes with the territory. Go ahead, have your pity party, but then get behind yourself and move on. As Stephen King says, “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
  2. Stay away from Google Search – If you give into temptation and start searching about your injury, you may find yourself ready to slit your lists. While there is good info to be found on such sites as Web MD and Sports Injury Clinic , beware of worst case scenarios. Most sites will give you the entire spectrum, so you have to be careful to not diagnose yourself as being worse than you are. And, for god’s sake, stay away from forums and message boards. While there is good support to be found, lots of people go to these things when they are desperate and majorly injured. I’ve come away from many a message board convinced I would have to have surgery, would never run again and might shrivel up into a ball and die.
  3. Be careful who you tell – Be sure to share your injury woes with people who get it.  There are many folks who will simply tell you to quit running so you quit getting injured. Maybe this isn’t the input you need. Find support where it suits you best.
  4. Keep your eye on the prize – Say to yourself, “I will run again,” and believe it. If you have been given a time line for when you can ease back into running, look forward a few months and consider signing up for a race.  Hope is a powerful thing.
  5. Get wet – One of the best ways to stay fit and simulate running when you can’t run is water running. Go HERE to read an article I wrote about it. If you are really wealthy, consider buying one of these.
  6. Find out what not to do next time – Use your injury to your advantage. Become the most well educated person about your individual issue. Research it. Talk to runners who have had it. Learn how to avoid it in the future. Pick all the brains you can find. Knowing your injury takes the mystery out of it and gives you back some control.
  7. Laugh at yourself – Lighten up. Don’t be so doomsday. Life goes on. Laugh at how clumsy you can be on crutches or how you have to roll around the kitchen on an office chair for months at a time. Fart and laugh about it.  It feels like the end of the world, but it isn’t. Five years from now this will just be a blip on the timeline of your life.
  8. Do one thing you love everyday or learn something new – If you can’t do the one thing you love most, run, then pick something else you love almost as much. Or, learn something new. Watch South Park reruns, get a pedicure, learn to make the perfect pie crust. Anything to distract yourself and to get some good mental energy going.
  9. Cancel your subscription – When injured, it might make you more depressed to read countless blogs and magazines about how well everyone else’s training and racing is going. Although you might also find good information on dealing with injuries, allow yourself permission to turn off and withdrawal for a bit if needed.
  10. Reach out – While it may be tempting to crawl into a hole, do not isolate yourself. Human connection is one of the most healing things we can do for ourselves. Let the people who you trust the most know that you need them right now. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and to ask for help.  The people you love want to do this for you.

Most of all, hang in there. Be glad you love something like running enough that it is devastating when you lose it for awhile. I promise you that you will never again take it for granted.

Any tips you’d like to add to help beat the injury blues?

SUAR

62 comments:

  1. mine is from LIFE and not from running---BUTBUT it's all the same.

    :-)

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    1. good tips!!! 1,2,3 & 10 are key for me!! gotta always look for the positive and learn from mistakes or errors.

      how's your thutt feeling btw. my butt crease is on the up and up. I am going to do an update post this week... but have found my issue being my adductor magnus. it was all out of whack and wasn't doing it's adductor duties. word is, it can also act as a "4th hamstring" meaning it will take on hamstring duties if the real ones are doing their job. so I got it worked on and have been working w/ a strength trainer 2x a wk on the parts of my body that are subpar strength wise.

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  3. I've been sidelined with my stress fracture in my foot. The boot I wear has certainly drawn some entertaining comments. But as I enter my 4th week of no running, I've started getting crabbier. I miss my endorphins, my music, my runs. I don't like to swim. I can only drink so much wine. The yoga I've been doing, while keeping me or at least my body balanced, hasn't been the cure. Last week I bought a kettlebell and have been doing some strength training. Yesterday, I bought a road bike. I've been wanting one, and the time is right. Against doctor's orders, I went for a short (45 min) ride. It was amazing, and I felt great when I was done.

    Hello, my name is Wendy and I'm an endorphinaholic. Wonder if there is a group for people like me? EA?

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    1. HaHa! Love that admission! I, too, am an endorphinolic!

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  4. I'm injured with IT Band syndrome right now. I definitely like your advice to learn something from your injury! I learned that my hips and glutes are pathetically weak and that they need to be strengthened. I also learned the wonders of the foam roller, which is valuable information. Most importantly I learned how much I LOVE running now that I can't do it...makes me appreciate it more!

    My advice would be to cry it out, sulk for a bit and then move on. Theres no need for weeks of wallowing over this... learn from it! You WILL run again!

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    1. Hi

      I also have the IT Band Syndrome since December and I have been officially depressed! Now i am in the acceptance mode ...I use the foam roller everyday and also i try to do aquaJog...I am also like you it made me realize how much i love and miss running!!!Reading this blog made me realize that i really should stop wasting time on feeling sorry for myself...eventually we will be running again!! I Hope sooon!!!

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    2. Third IT band injury here. It's so frustrating, but I am actually enjoying the time off this time. Not pouting because I can't run. It's nice to sleep in.

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  5. Thanks you for posting this. One of my buddies here is injured, and hopes to find out today just what the issue is. I know she reads your blog and loves it. (Hi Lala Mama!) Your advice is better/more practical than mine would be. All I could come up with was lots of sex with her husband to take her mind off of it.

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  6. I agree with #3 - I've heard that 'all this running' is wearing out my body by running! .... Huh?

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  7. I have just spent the last 11 weeks in either a boot or on my rear w/ a broken foot. I have two weeks to go until I'm "allowed" to hit the pavement. It has been so crazy frustrating, especially because I'm missing two big races (mostly for the fun...)

    I have been a fish as much as I can but there is nothing like running. My advice? Read a lot of non-running related fiction and be thankful for all of your other functioning systems and parts!

    @Wendy-You can do it!!

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    1. Thanks! Now that I've been cleared to bike (and swim), it won't be so bad. But I agree with you, there is nothing like running!

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  8. Really, really good post. Injuries definitely suck, but the feeling of that first good, pain-free run after an injury is almost as good as a runner's high. I try to look at injuries as a learning opportunity ... after I finish cussing and knock down my 4th beer.

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  9. How appropriate. I wish you had written this sooner. I had surgery on my broken ankle 15 weeks ago and my husband is ready to throw me to the wolves and my friends (may not have any- only kidding)are probably sick of my whining. I can't run and don't know when I will be able to...... it's killing me. Can I re-post this post on my blog? http://myfirst5k.wordpress.com

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    1. Of course. Hang in there. I know the spouses take it very hard too!

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  10. I dealt with hip burtisis for almost a year. It depressed the crap out of me because I would feel pain even after a 1 mile run. I also couldn't afford the 3x a week PT appointments after a month so I stopped and felt hopeless. Then I finally grabbed the attitude that (just like you said) this isn't the end of the world, let's find something else. I started boot camp 2x a week and after months of squats, lunges and "dirty dogs" the hip is now stronger than ever. I ran a half marathon a month ago with zero hip pain, it was amazing.

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  11. I hate saying it but the one thing I do like reading on blogs when I'm injured is that other people are injured too! I have had 3 stress fractures within the past two years, the last two were probably totally my fault (too much too soon a.k.a. Dumb as Shit Athlete). Plus, I am not very good at cross training, I can get in tons of strength but I abhor the elliptical and stationary bike (biking outside is fun when it's not too cold). Pool running is not even in the picture anymore because I had tried it a few times and I literally hate being cold and wet and was crying in the shower before I even got in the pool (lame I know).
    I love being outside and if I can at least hike the steep trails in Chataqua (I live in Boulder) I'm good, but unfortunately most injuries don't allow that for at least a few weeks.
    I also hate to say this, but sometimes I wonder if I didn't cross train at all durning my injuries and was reeeaaalllllyyyy out of shape when I started (like when you're a beginner runner) if it would force me to come back more slowly, but alas a runner is to type A to not get any endorphins even if it is at a stinky gym.
    Question? Where was that 10 mile trail run you posted last? When I do get back to running (hopefully in a few weeks and I definitely won't try to run 10 miles knock on wood), I would love to visit. I am a trail runner and can't wait to hear the dirt beneath my feet again!!!!

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    1. Great points! That trail run was at Hall Ranch (Bitterbrush Trail) in Lyons. I linked to it in the post as well if you need directions!! Heal up!

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  12. I recovered from my stress fracture while self-medicating on chocolate and becoming 100% wizard on the Lego Harry Potter game.

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  13. How timely this comes for me, as I may be facing an injury...

    Cracking up at #2. I was totally being all Dr. Google yesterday. :)

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  14. What great points! I have been out of running now for 7 weeks. My running came to a crashing stop with one bad turn on the ski slopes. Torn my ACL, MCL and Mensicus. 20 years again I had my ACL repaired and then 4 weeks ago I went in for round 2. It has been very hard. I am not a person to sit so I got a personal trainer and he is beating me up 3 times a week in upper body weight training. It has been amazing and it is what has gotten me thru this terrible injury. I still have atleast 4 weeks to go before I can run on a treadmill or outside but I will begin to water in run this week and am so excited! These are the little things that keep me looking forward. I have also signed up for a race in August. I assume I will probably walk some of the hills but I will be out there again. I WILL run again!

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  15. O.M.G. This is hilarious and so true at the same time.. My High Hamstring Tendon issue is taking 3 months to clear up.. I am now saying, "ONLY 3 months" since it often takes 6 months or longer. I've also been staying off the blogs/forums/webMD and I feel immensely better. I have more ECCENTRIC exercises for you btw if you want them!

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  16. Super tips! You've been there and clearly know all this from experience. Awesome for sharing! Thank you!

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  17. How's this for a running injury? Three days ago I tripped on a lane barrier at the university track. My head went straight into a pole and then I wiped the track with my nose. I have a swollen nose and whiplash, a sore shoulder and two knees with road rash. But two days ago, I got on a plane and flew off to Costa Rica on a planned trip with my husband. It's been the best recovery program I could have asked for but I'm itching to run again. I'm having a hard time finding whiplash and broken noses in any running injury forums. But thank you for the reminder to take it slow, healing takes time (and more time at 49)and I will run again (in the daylight).

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  18. Great post! I've been on the injured list recently and it's not easy. Finally seeing that light though. And I absolutely agree on learning from it - figuring out how to prevent it from happening again.

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  19. Great post! I wish I could have read this before I got injured. I was out for about 10 weeks with a hamstring injury and am just barely getting back into running. These tips would have definitely made my life much easier!

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    1. I am a hamstring girl too!! On week 7 now of recovery and able to do short miles, going up by 2 miles a week. I am healing, but it does suck.

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  20. I'm not injured but I'm sick with Bronchitis. A lot of the same applies. Thanks for the post. I needed some reassurance.

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  21. Hope is so important...no matter how elusive pain-free is, it IS out there somewhere eventually.

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  22. I'm bookmarking this for my next injury. The only tip I might add would be to hire a running coach if you're prone to overtraining injuries.

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  23. One of my favorite posts ever, and SO what I needed this Monday morning.

    I got injured a month before Boston last year and ran it anyway. Now I'm leading up to Ironman Canada (and Boise 70.3) and was diagnosed with a metatarsal sfx 5 weeks ago. It's finally feeling improved - and I stayed strong for so long! - but the lack of running and amount of cross-training (a LOT) finally got to me last week. I fear that if I'd had access to that bag of Doritos I certainly would have stayed in bed with them!

    The best two things that have worked for me through this injury and others are 1. Do things that make you still feel like an athlete and 2. Use your extra time to do other things that you don't always have time for that make you happy. One of the hardest things about being injured for me personally is that without my sport I don't feel like an athlete anymore. Be it wearing my track jacket even though I'm not running or lacing up my running shoe on my one boot-less foot, it reminds me that I'm still the same person. And with all that extra time? Stay out late. Happy hour with friends. Sleep in. Do the things that get compromised for the rest of the year.

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    1. I love the way you worded that - do things that make you still feel like an athlete.

      So sorry about your stress fx. That totally blows. Since having two fractures myself, I feel I'm always on the edge of another. Hang in there. Yes, you are still that same, strong person inside and out.

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  24. Great tips! I've been known to wallow, but only around people that understand. Otherwise, I look ridiculous, dramatic and self-centered. After all, there are worse things like genocide, world hunger, and Mitt Romney.

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    1. Hahhaha. Laughing at the Mitt Romney comment. Glad you are back to running now!

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  25. Great tips, it is to wallow when I can't run!!

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  26. Love it! Not to hijack, but, I love that AlterG! I've been doing PT and been on that thing the last three weeks. I did a little 'review' of it, too.
    http://hotconfidence.blogspot.com/2012/03/running-on-air.html
    Love your tips, too.
    http://hotconfidence.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-not-to-cross-train-for-injured.html

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  27. I wish I would have had this 4 weeks ago as I entered my stint of no exercise! I am a triathlete and slipped a disk in my back cycling. I had also just finished my 18 mile run training for my second marathon. The marathon is next weekend. I still have fleeting thoughts of running....just a little...in the race. Hubby and Doc say no. I was full-flown depressive bitch during this stint of no exercise. I wasn't allowed to do anything except water walk. UGH! Now, I am able to run a mile at a time, spin classes (modified), some gentle yoga and some strength work. Getting better, but the "WHY ME?" sure hit hard. Thanks for being so open and honest! You rock!

    Pen

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  28. This post could not have come at a better time. I strained my hip flexor last week doing some speedwork on the treadmill and the sports doc took me off of running for a few weeks to let it heal. It has been very humbling dealing with this (been running marathons for 3 years, never been injured) but I know I will only come out stronger in the end! Thanks again for the great post!

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  29. I am injury prone. It's a learning process, and I still have lots to learn. One thing, is that it's hard to let go of the fitness and endurance when you are at your peak of training, it's also when you are likely to get injured. I haven't ran most of the this year due to injury and surgery recovery...and you know what? I am ok. It will be hard coming back, but things could be worse. Life goes on.

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  30. I avoid google search AND Web MD like the plague (pun intended) for anything. Every time I read about injuries or illness I think I need to go to the ER and have surgery and/or am dying.

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    1. The people in on-line support groups are the worst. No matter the ailment, they have it 15x worse than anybody else. Either they are all hypochondriac drama kings and queens or they are just messing with people's minds!

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  31. Those are great tips, especially the Get Wet. I hope I never have to deal with this. I was fortunate to get away from the bike accident fairly unscathed but it did go through my pea brain about what I would do if I could not race.

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  32. 2 & 3.
    Biggies.
    Such a great post.
    That photo.......love it.

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  33. Was wishing I was seeing you in Boston again this year!!

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    1. I know!! Glad we didn't have their heat!

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  34. Oh I love "Be Careful Who you Tell"; that is a biggie. When people don't get it they are not encouraging. That is a great one I've never thought of. My google habit can't be broken though ; )

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  35. Great post! I'd add, "Do what your doctors/PTs/whoever-you-trust-and/or-are-paying" tell you." Otherwise, why are you going? Even on my wallowing days, I do my exercises.

    Travel to a warm beach location also helps. I did that last weekend. :^)

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  36. I think that staying off of Google is the best advice ever! Don't shop for groceries alone is good too... way too easy to justify buying (and then eating) crap. :)

    I hope you heal up quickly! Hang in there!

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  37. Stay away from Google--YES. I think no matter what the ailment, Google searches on it will convince you you're going to be dying a slow and painful death! LOL

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  38. I ended up having to have surgery because my plantar fasciitis got so bad and lasted for 2 and a half years... not fun. I set a goal for myself. The doctor said that it'd take about 4 months to recover from the surgery. There was a half marathon that I had signed up for, and I was going to cross that finish line even if I had to crawl all 13.1 miles. Having a concrete goal kept me on track with my water running and water aerobics and stretching and therapy and... my oh my, there's a lot that goes into recovery!! I think I would have been a total slacker in recovery if I didn't have that deadline.

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  39. GREAT post. GREAT tips. You always have helpful stuff to offer!

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  40. Awesome advice!! thanks. I broke my kneecap last summer and was sidelined for a good 12 weeks. Then had to start back slowly. Instead of being down about how slow I was having to build back up my miles - I decided to concentrate on how happy I was to be running again! My daughter told me "everyone has their running injury story - now you have yours!" ...no glory though because I just tripped over a curb.. while running of course.. but now it is just a memory and I have my second half scheduled for next week! Yep! It was a great learning lesson for sure! Thanks for sharing!

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  41. I'm so so glad that I'm not the only one that considers killing my family and laying in bed and eating doritos all day!

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  42. Thanks you for posting this. One of my buddies here is injured, and hopes to find out today just what the issue is. I know she reads your blog and loves it. Sildenafil Your advice is better/more practical than mine would be. All I could come up with was lots of sex with her husband to take her mind off of it.

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  43. Another thank you for this. 15 weeks into a 25 week training program, with lots of slow miles to ensure a strong base and minimize injury, I've got a hurt arch...it feels pretty serious and I've just felt sad, mad and pissy the last few days. The good news is the elliptical machine and spinning doesn't seem to aggravate it. So, in the spirit of 'acting like an athlete' and trying to at least simulate my routine, I'm off to the gym. I've got my Garmin on, though I certainly don't need it, and I'm planning to meet my girlfriends for post-run coffee just the same.

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  44. Established transportation infrasctructure for a plethora of lifestlye,
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  45. I'm trying not to grump my way through an injury at the moment. Your photo gave me a much needed laugh........love the (implied) beer and Cheez-its stupor!

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  46. Thanks for your good words. After a long and crappy winter running at siberian temperatures (-25 c), now that the spring is coming, I'm stopped for 3 weeks now and it begins to really mess with my mood. My physical therapist said I'll have to wait at least another week before a short trial run and at least another 2 weeks before getting back on track. I hope she's right before I kill myself. I miss my endorphins so much...

    Keep going.

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  47. 10 Ways To Survive Your Injury Without Being a B*tch is a great topic. It is very informative post.To read your blog I learn a lot of things.
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  48. Thanks for this! Running is my medicine and it's tough switching prescriptions. I'm trying to keep my sense of humor through the whole thing.

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  49. I recently find your blog and it couldn't have come at a better time. I was training for my first half marathon and on a long run, 2 miles in, I felt pain like never before. After beginning the RICE routine with no help, I saw a specialist who later diagnosed me with ITBS. I've tried to keep positive, but lately, it's been very difficult. After reading this one in particular, I learned some things and want to share my gratitude. So! Thank you for the laughs. Thanks for helping me gain some perspective. Thanks for giving me renewed hope.

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