Are you kidding me? Another injury post?
If you could see the number of emails I get about how to survive running injuries, you’d understand why I write about this subject so often. It’s relevant, people. The running world is at least 50% injured right now. Fallen soldiers every.stinking.where.
It’s true that we all handle hardship differently. Some wallow, some are proactive. Some eat everything in sight, some lose weight. Some drink their faces off, some show their resilience. I wrote a post awhile back about the stages of injury – you can read it HERE.
Although fun, not the best solution
What I know is that once we move out of the pity party stage (also known as anger/denial - which is totally acceptable for a short period of time), we do better when we can a) see the big picture, and b) remain optimistic.
Recently someone asked me “Do you ever get so angry and/or depressed that you don’t know what to do? Sometimes I just feel so defeated and that I’ll never get back to normal.”
My answer? YES and YES.
She then asked, “Do you have any personal experience or advice on having these feelings and what I can do to possibly make myself feel better? I really think the only thing that could make me feel better is to run again. No one seems to understand.”
My answer? YES. I have some ideas of what you can do to feel better. But, you first have to stop feeling sorry for yourself. I am saying this in the most loving way possible. Everyone has crosses to bear. Accept that this is yours for now and be open to tackling it head on. Here are some guidelines that have worked for me, so I tell them to you:
- You are not alone. Remember that many, many people are feeling exactly how you are feeling right now. It is incredibly frustrating and sad to not be able to do what you love to do and that feeling is universal. Just knowing others feel like you do helps.
- Feel athletic. Find something, anything that you can do that make you feel athletic. It will not be running, but it will be something. Try to not compare it to running, but just see it as the thing that will help you get back to running eventually. Be in the moment. When you are on the elliptical, don't judge the fact that you are not running out on the open road. Just be on the elliptical, get your heart rate up, sweat and feel your body. Know that running is there for you when your body is ready. Look forward to that day.
- Have hope. Know that this temporary. Stop reading stuff online, that is usually worst case scenarios and will not help you mentally. When I had my hip stress fracture, I looked at online forums and found all sorts of awful scenarios -people who never could run again, those who had to have surgery, you name it. Chances are very good these scenarios will not be you.
- Get perspective. You are a strong and capable runner. You have a an injury. Injuries heal (unless there is some extenuating circumstances). I had to remind myself that cracks in the bone heal if I give it time and if I rest. It did heal. It took four months, then I was running the Boston Marathon with no pain.
- Ignore those people who don't understand. Confide in other runners, even if this means on line friends like me. Read chapters of books that talk about injury like Zen and the Art of Running, Running with the Mind of Meditation and Brain Training for Runners. Most running books have a section devoted to injury because most runners get injured at some point.
- Get help. If you are really down and depressed consider seeing a sport's psychologist even just one time. I had a friend/fellow blogger who did this last year when she was injured and very down about it. She just went once, but it really put her in the mind space to be able to see beyond the injury and to move out of that dark place.
- Focus on the gifts in your life outside of running. They are still there.
You are a runner even if you can't run right now.
What tips would YOU give this person who is really down in the dumps? What has worked for you in the past?