Monday, May 21, 2012

7 More Tips to Not Let Injury Defeat You

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.

P1120596

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

SUAR

42 comments:

  1. I love this.
    I try and stay active...active...active how ever I can.
    Some day that means wearing running clothes to the grocery store. Yes looking the part actually mentally helped me.

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    1. I second that. If I don't visit them once a day, my spandex get lonely.

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  2. You're the best. I have a high hamstring tendonitis at the moment and I'm feeling...all of the above that you posted. I hate the elliptical. I just want to put on my freaking shoes and go out for a run. But I know that's not going to help.

    I think I'm going to start swimming. :(

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    1. Jen...don't do that. Instead, why don't you start swimming :-)))))

      It will make all the difference.

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  3. Seriously, the elliptical has helped me so much. I wish I'd thought of it waaaayyyyyy sooner. Being able to move and sweat and get the blood flowing without pain has been a godsend. And when all athletic-y things fail, I like to watch really funny movies when I am feeling like crap. Oh, and perspective is pretty awesome. People think that my 8+ yrs of injury was a long time...some people are having to sit things out for LIFE.

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  4. Someday you will write an injury post and it will not apply to me (because I will not be injured)...but until then, thank you! :)

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  5. I somehow stumbled upon thi stoday of all days. I have been plaqued with Achilles for 6 mos. I needed this. After 25 chiro visits doing Graston,and accupuncture on my achilles -still can't really run Thank you so much It is all about perspective.

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    1. Sally...the same for me. I can run 2-4 miles at the most. It has been almost six months for me. It feels like I will NEVER heal.
      Phew. I feel better. :)

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  6. You can never do too many injury posts! :^)

    My advice:

    1. If there's a machine you can cross-train on (or a pool), put yourself on a training plan, even if you're borrowing one from running and modifying it. If you're allowed to go hard, go hard (intervals, hill climbing, etc.) a lot (you can do it more when you're not pounding!). Having my seven-week plan has made the recumbent bike not only bearable but purposeful. I have a goal! To not lose aerobic fitness, which is harder to get back than muscle strength! So far, after 10 weeks, I'm actually seeing *improvement* in my heart rate.

    2. Focus on something important that you didn't have time for before, like getting enough sleep or eating better. Put yourself on a "training" plan for that. You'll be in a great place when you are able to run again.

    3. Tell yourself daily, "This will be a blip when I'm eighty...when I'm eighty and still running because I healed this injury properly now."

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  7. this post couldn't have come at a better time...i'm constantly fighting injury in my right leg/foot and on today's run, i was actually thinking that maybe i wasn't meant for running and that i should stop. this gave me the virtual slap up side the head that i was being a silly git! i know a lot of it is my fault...not stretching, not doing the exercises that my physio prescribed, not watching my form, etc., etc. i was so good when i was training for my first marathon, i was religious about doing all those and i made it thru injury free! i'm vowing to get myself back on the wagon starting NOW.

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  8. Buy yourself a new ______ and focus on what you can do. Remember what running is all about for you. For me that's having fun, enjoying the outdoors and burning some calories. Remember that life is a marathon not a sprint and you have X more years on this earth. But running is just a part of that whole life picture.

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  9. I have been running consistantly for 31 yrs. As you age ,injuries become more worrisome.But I know my body can heal itself-I just have to get out of it's way.Easier said than done!!

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  10. Keep putting on your running clothes and a retired pair of running shoes. It's a good reminder to help keep your eating/nutrition in perspective.

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  11. Thanks for the link love! I'd add that you shouldn't feel guilty about missing running. Sometimes that's hard when there are bigger things going on in life, but your feelings are legit. Don't let them rule you, but acknowledge them.

    Like you said, it may seem like flipping forever, but they DO eventually heal.

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  12. I agree that staying active is key. I think looking for other ways to stay fit and strong could help the injured runner to know that his or her body is capable of SO much. Yes, running is so much more than the act of moving forward in a quick fashion, but it is not the end-all, be-all to our fitness. Runners like control - we are borderline OCD, I'm sure - so if we can't run we need something else to challenge us to redirect our focus!

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  13. Have lots of sex. Make the other person do all the work.

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  14. Walking - lots of it. Take up a new sport or activity that you CAN do in the meantime, and maybe you've always meant to do it - and see this time off from running as an opportunity. For example, I can't run right now - dr's orders - but I am ok for cycling. So I will have to relearn how to ride a bike again, since I haven't done it for a very long time ie. years.

    Wishing your friend positivity!

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  15. Soooo relevant to me right most. Thanks for writing it. I am trying to learn to like the elliptical. I don't know if I can go 5+ weeks without running, but if it is for the good of my hamstrings, then I'll try my hardest. Like you said---better to take time off now. And I will keep telling myself that I am STILL a runner! Thanks again!

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  16. If you are signed up for races, only walk them if it will make you feel good. I got crap from friends for not just walking the half marathon that I ended up DNSing at due to injury. I am fine to walk, so that wasn't the issue. I just felt that I would be so frustrated by only being able to walk that it would do more harm than good. I got peer pressured into walking/running the race this past weekend and I haven't decided that I'm glad I did it or not. I'm definitely not feeling motivated though.

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  17. Thank you so much - I now don't feel so ridiculous for the crazy depressive state I have just come out of after a month of no running. Having said that, if one more person tells me to "just use the elliptical" I will actually hurt them... I'm sorry, but that is NOT running :-)

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  18. Wait, there are things to do that make you feel better aside from beer and creepily stalk-staring down any runner on the side of the road while salivating?

    Actually this was a super inspiring post for the wounded warriors out there (we've all been there) But you did forget "Complain to everyone who will listen until all of your friends hate you."

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  19. Riding out an injury can and I believe will make you mentally stronger and tougher in the end...It's all about patience! When injured, we have no where to go , but forward and up! The journey is grueling, and so metimes not fair...but the wait is well worth the end result!

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  20. thank you sooo much. shin splints SUCK and i was getting cranky..... pity party done.... now i'll go ride my bike and strength train :)

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  21. Get physical terrorist friends who remind you every day of the exercises you can do to heal properly :)

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  22. I am enjoying reading these comments. I am not injured but sick at the moment and haven't worked out since Thursday (oh boo hoo) but it is making me so sad. My advice is to take it one day at a time. That is what I am doing.

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  23. Focus on what you CAN do...and do that with the same enthusiasm that you applied to your running until your healing progresses. No, it is NOT running. We all know that. That is NOT the point. The point is to do what you can, and focus positively on that. Applying negative self-talk (woe is me, why did this happen again, etc) will not help you..only wear you down.

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  24. There is always someting else to do if you cannot run . If you are locked in that mind set then it sucks to be you,, this is why we cross train,, we are athletes and there will be injuries . I have foot injury right now,, that I thought was healing as I just got back to running. but after a 6 mile run last weekend,, it is acting up again. I may stop running again and go back to rowing,, and as always biking and swimming,, Strength training and Cross fit,, Circuit training,, Hiking and Walking,, and kayaking,, LOL,, I have so many things I LOVE to do,, even though I Love running,, I can go without it and still get in a good workout. I may be walking that Sprint Tri I am signed up for,, but I will be there for sure !

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  25. I was out for a long time a year and a half ago, and it SUCKED. But I found once I got over feeling sorry for myself and let go a little, I discovered some great things: http://ultrarunnergirl.blogspot.com/2010/09/on-not-running.html

    Also, POOL RUNNING can save you when you're injured. Check out this great page of all things pool running: http://wellimtryingtorun.blogspot.com/2010/01/pool-running-posts-listed-by-category.html

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  26. Someone from my running group was injuried and she was not able to run, and was feeling too down to cross train. I could tell she was missing the people in the running group as much as running, so I suggested we either all get together for dinner or do some cross training together like swimming (that she was able to do).

    The only thing I can suggest is try to cross train if you can, if you can't take this time to do all the other things you love in life. It's easy to just feel like your an athlete, but your so much more than that. Explore your other interests you've been missing out on.

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  27. thanks for this post - very timely as i've just twisted my knee and am currently sporting a pretty unsexy hobble - i can't even think about running right now (sob). I was down for a while but no. 4 on your list is sooooo important. this is temporary and there are people out there with life long disabilities that will never run so i just got to man up!!

    Im going to cross train as soon as i can. There will always be more runs and more races...

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  28. dang girl you look sexy in that shirt :)

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    1. Some cool girl told me to buy it.

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    2. Where did you find the super cute pink, 26.2 tee? I have been looking for one to celebrate my first 2 marathons!!

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  29. I did whatever I could the first time to maintain my fitness, somewhat. Pool running, elliptical.... Last time I didn't care! I found a way to "embrace" the moment of not being able to run. I found time to do other things that I didn't normally have time for. Like you said, if your injury isn't that severe, you will run again.

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  30. I just bought that exact same 26.2 shirt and it just arrived in the mail! :)

    It is crazy to think that half of us runners are down in the dumps and injured right now. So sad. I am just jumping for joy because I am the 50% that is able to run right now (after chronically being the OTHER 50%)! WOO HOO!

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  31. Thanks for the post =)

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  32. Read SUAR - it will cheer you up. 5 months with no running but still a runner.

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  33. Constant stress fractures, piriformis injuries etc always get me down and drag the rest of my self esteem along with it. Alll I wanna do is eat my brains out. I hate pool running, I hate swimming. Nothing burns cals like running. It's vicious cycle - run, eat well, get skinny, run more, get injured, eat crap, get fat. Wash rinse repeat. I just can't look on the bright side of this

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