An injury humbles you to the core. It renders you powerless and transforms you into a spectator. It is the water to your fire; the frown to your smile. It is the antithesis of forward progression; the unexpected halt in training. It tests your patience and attempts to shake your resolve. It is a time when you must decide if you will let the injury consume you, or if you will wait patiently to start again.
Suffering from an injury can oftentimes be overwhelming. With it comes frustration at the thought of being relegated to a sedentary lifestyle. There’s a sudden break in your ritual; a diversion from a familiar path. The prospect of starting again from scratch and attempting to build what you had already created is devastating. The devastation comes from the fact that as runners we have come so far. Over time we have built mileage into our lives by putting feet to the pavement, while gradually building inner and outer strength, as well as confidence. When it all vanishes because an injury has decided to infiltrate our lives it’s easy to allow a certain amount of pessimism to run rampant. It’s not just because of the injury itself, but rather, the uncertainty of it all. When will I be able to run again? When will the pain subside? Will this be a chronic injury? The questions begin to mount and fear sets in. That is when patience is of the utmost importance.
When you suffer an injury you start the all-consuming ritual of daily spot checks at the site of the injury, hoping the pain has subsided. Most times you find that there is minimal to no progress and you become anxious. Sometimes you will even go for a run, when you know that it could possibly set you back, because there’s a belief that maybe, just maybe you can work your way through the pain. But pounding the injury into submission only aggravates it. It heightens the pain, as well as the uncertainty. It almost always leads to more disappointment. Patience, although it seems like the enemy and a sign of weakness, becomes your best ally. You have to dig deep within yourself to come to the understanding that rest is not your nemesis and the ability to allow your body to heal is more a sign of strength than weakness.
Once you have immersed yourself into the routine of running, can you call it strength to do something that has suddenly become natural? Isn’t it easy to keep throwing punches when you have never been knocked down? It is more powerful to stand up after you have been punched to the ground. It is more powerful to face adversity and overcome it. With patience comes strength and with healing comes power. If you can ignite your flame again once it has been extinguished, can you ever really call yourself weak?
Suffering from an injury, in some ways, is a byproduct of running. It can develop in an instant or slowly over time and it is not partial to novice, intermediate or advanced runners. Injuries happen to everyone, at any given time. Therefore, it’s extremely important that you never dwell on your predicament. If you allow the “woe is me” mentality to overtake you then you are allowing yourself to be overcome with disappointment. You need to look at your injury as a way to further your commitment to getting healthy. Let it help you realize that you are human and that you are not immune to hardships. Let it also help you realize how important it is to enjoy your health and make the most of every single day.
Your injury will take time to heal, but eventually it will. Although it may hinder your progress physically at the moment, you cannot let it affect you mentally or emotionally. You have to believe that tomorrow is another day full of possibilities and brings you one day closer to healing. Always keep your determination, hold on tightly to your confidence and take pride in your patience. The roads aren’t going anywhere. Races will still be waiting for you to sign up. The starting line will always be calling your name. Remember, just because you’re injured doesn’t mean you’re not a runner.