Dealing With Your Running Injury

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.

11 thoughts on “Dealing With Your Running Injury

  1. Thanks! I’ve been following your progress, including your patience and advice to all. You helped me back in December, and now I’ve been having some hip flexor/ bursa issues. Running is on the back burner, I’ve been biking and trying to be patient. Your email couldn’t have come at a better time. I was planning to run in three half marathons this Sept, Oct, and Nov. I hope I’ll be better and ready for then. Wish me luck and thanks again!!

    1. I know sometimes we all need a little pick me up when dealing with an injury. I have been out of running for a little over a month dealing with my injury and patience has truly been the key to getting me through each day. Keep that determination to run those half marathon. You never know what can happen…just like before. 🙂 Glad to hear that you are resting and making sure you take care of your injury. I am sure you will be back out there in no time. Keep up the great work!! I wish you much luck!! 🙂

  2. Very eloquent post. Thanks. I’ve just recently been diagnosed with radiculopathy (herniated discs of the lumbar spine) and have had to come to terms with the ‘setback’. Your post captures a lot of the emotion of this process, so thanks. It’s important to know that there are people who ‘get’ it when you’re a runner who can’t run.

    1. Sorry to hear about your diagnoses…But glad to know what you will be back to running before you know it. I know how mentally and emotionally draining an injury can be, but I also believe that everything truly happens for a reason. This will make you an even better runner. Good luck and keep me posted on your progress. Can’t wait to hear about your first run!! Always something to look forward to. 🙂

    1. No problem!! That always seems to happen to me too!! Every time I have a great run the next run turns into an injury!! You are going to be fine and be back out there in no time!! You will likely even surpass your time. A little rest never hurts right? Just come back even stronger!!! 🙂

  3. Oh no! What kind of injury are you dealing with? I see your ankles and Knees are wrapped up!

    But I as many of us feel this post came in perfect timing. I have now completed week two and are already pushing through annyoing shin splits. But this is a minor challenge in my training. I just can’t wait till I can easily run long miles and all the little aches and pains are gone (for the most part).

    But a switch in gear, I was wondering what kind of diet you and your wife followed during training. Or rather what kind of foods you guys focused on during training?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hey Stephanie…no worries about the picture. That was a picture from an old blog I had written. All that was icing for precautionary reasons after every run. Usually when I am training for a half marathon I ice my ankles on the inside and my knees. I am still messing with my back at the moment and hoping it heals soon!!

      I am glad to hear that your injuries are minor so far in training. You will get to a point when the pain lessens significantly and running because part of your daily routine. Just keep it up!! I think it’s awesome what you are doing.

      In terms of food my wife and I usually eat a Luna or cliff bar before a long run…we found those really helped. We eat a lot of bananas as well. For lunch we eat Turkey sandwiches and Tuna…but we aren’t that strict with ourselves for lunch – just don’t eat a lot. For dinner we eat pasta, fish (salmon, tilapia), chicken, or eggs. We try to focus on eating fresh vegetables and fruit a lot during the week. On weekends we let ourselves have whatever we want on Friday and Saturday…because it’s just too hard to be good all of the time! We like our sweets!! Running long distances gives you the benefit of eating a little worse. We are not perfect all of the time, but we do our best to really stick to a healthy diet. We don’t drink a lot of soda, except maybe on a Saturday (just one). Most of the time it’s water or tea. We try to eat like this all of the time, whether training or not. We find we have more energy overall when eating healthy. It’s a lifestyle change that we have really enjoyed.

  4. I realize you posted this a while ago, but I just found it and really appreciated reading it. Like others have said, it is nice to see someone who “gets it.” I have not been able to run for almost four months because of runner’s knee, and it is killing me! I miss the mental as much as the physical benefits of running. It has been my escape, and I can’t let my mind “wander” when I am swimming or doing workout videos like I can when running. I tried biking, but that agrivated my knee. I have been doing strengthening exercises that I found specifically for runner’s knee, but the results are very slow if any. I have been down the path of worrying that this is a chronic injury, but try not to go there. I have never really had an injury before, and I have been running and doing sports since i was about five and am now thirty-seven. I was hoping to do a triathlon in June, but have pretty much let that go and hope to do one later as well as half and whole marathons eventually again. I haven’t done a marathon since college, but I was well on my way to being able to before getting injured. Sorry to just vent, but it is nice to “talk” to another runner who understands the frustration and all that goes along with being injured.

    1. Hey Emily!! Don’t worry, you will be fine 🙂 It’s good to vent and get out your frustration. In fact, at times it is necessary. I understand your frustration all too well. Running is a freeing experience and when it’s abruptly taken away it’s a bit of a shock to the system. Then, all the worrying sets in and the thought that it’s a chronic injury begins to run rampant. I have been suffering with my back injury for well over 7 months. There are times when I want to scream with anger. But, I know I can’t – well, I can’t because it hurts my back if I scream. 🙂 But, anyway, I always have to remind myself that I have to have patience and never lose hope that maybe tomorrow I will wake up and the pain will be gone. That’s the beauty of tomorrow…it’s always a clean slate and one day closer to healing. It’s good that you have told yourself that the triathalon may not be possible…there are other triathalons. Right now lets focus on getting back to 100% because honestly, that’s harder than doing a triathalon. 🙂 You just have to be patient and be proactive. That means not running if any pain of any kind is present, as well as stretching even when you aren’t running. Stretching will definitely help. You need to be doing that at least two times a day. For my back my physical therapist has me stretching 3 times a day with a strengthening exercises mixed in. It takes commitment, but I am willing to do it to get back to 100%. I know you have that commitment and you are trying – that’s the most important thing. Don’t run until you feel strong enough. I know it’s so much easier said than done…trust me…I know allllllll tooooooo wellllllll!! I just started running last month after 6 months off!!! I love running, it’s a part of me. When it was taken away I didn’t know what to do. But, I ate better and noticed I lost even more weight. I got healthier overall and my commitment to a healthy lifestyle was further heightened by my injury. It has helped me not take every workout for granted. I think you will see that in some ways going through something like this makes you stronger and more focused. Honestly, before my injury my love affair with running was seemingly coming to an end. I didn’t enjoy it as much. Then, I got hurt and I realized how much I still loved it. Everything happens for a reason. I really do think there is a silver lining in everything. You will find yours and you will be back to 100% before you know it. Remember, be patient and never lose hope. There’s always tomorrow and there’s always a chance you will wake up feeling much much better. I’m 33 and healthier than I was at 23. There are a lot of 37 years old who don’t have that fire and drive that you have. Keep it burning!! 🙂 Keep me posted!!

      1. Thank you for your encouragement! I am glad you are able to run again after such a long time! I too believe that everything happens for a reason. As hard as it is, I think God is using this to teach me about my pride, patience, attitude and depence on Him for my joy. I need to be thankful in all circumstances and look for the “silver lining” in what He is helping me to learn. I appreciate your help with pointing me in the right direction to look for the good in all things, even an injury. 🙂 I also appreciate you mentioning that you continued to lose weight even after you couldn’t run, because running really does melt the pounds off. I am trying to get back to a healthier diet like I had before the holidays. Food can be so much fun! lol Anyway, thanks again for the helpful post.

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