Coping with running injuries

When my friend Lisa tore her meniscus skiing recently, she “bawled (her) eyes out for three whole minutes,” she said. Who wouldn’t? That just sounds painful.

“Not because of the pain, but because of the thought that I may not be able to participate in the TRI I’ve been training for,” she continued.

Oh. That’s something different, and is almost tougher to deal with.

As I prepare to see the doctor tomorrow thanks to a cranky ankle, I thought I’d remind myself (and share with you) some tips for coping with an injury-forced running hiatus.

  • First, get yourself in the right mindset by reading this helpful Runner’s World story. When I first read this, I was sidelined with a minor injury that kept me from running, and felt like my whole identity had been stripped away. When I read that Kara Goucher had felt the same way and overcome those feelings by reminding herself that she is not just a runner, but “a person who loves to run,” it was like that scene in “Fever Pitch” where Jimmy Fallon can’t get over a Red Sox loss until he sees the actual players out on the town, carrying on just fine. In other words: If Kara Goucher can suck it up and deal, I certainly can, too. The take-aways: Stay positive. Focus on recovery. If it helps, hang out with your running buddies off the road.
  • Get stronger. Physical therapy can help you learn which muscle groups are weirdly weak, and what to do to strengthen them so you don’t injure yourself again. It can also provide a heckuva stregth workout, if you get the right physical therapist. I can honestly say I was in better shape after taking a break from running than before, thanks to more lifting and cross-training.
  • Remember that this happens to pros all the time — and that they come back better and faster after.
  • Focus on other athletic pursuits. I used my last rehab period to get back into swimming, which I did competitively in high school. I trained for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge 1-Mile Challenge last year, and I’m doing it again on June 14. No matter what the doctor says tomorrow, I ought to get my butt in gear and take training for it seriously. It’s a nice reminder that I’m more than a runner — I’m a multi-sport athlete.
  • Oh, and — I’m more than a runner. Like Kara Goucher, I’m a person who loves to run. I’ll leave you with one more tip from my girl Kara, who also happens to be a fellow CU alum: “When you’re injured, it feels like you’re missing out on the biggest opportunities, but when you step back, you realize there’s plenty of time to run and race,” she told Runner’s World.

Got any tips for coping with injuries? Share ’em by posting a comment below.


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2 responses to “Coping with running injuries

  1. When recovering and trying to stay in running shape I like to do anything in a pool as well. Of course you can swim, but another great way to work your running muscles without the impact is to do pool running. You can work on the same techniques and I find it actually helps improve my land running techniques. Add in an intense game of Marco Polo for variety and you’ll be 100% and ready to run on land in no time!

  2. What a great tip! I’ve always been hesitant to try pool running, but knowing that it’s both a great workout and a good way to improve overall technique makes me eager to give it a try.

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