Coping with injury is never easy for runners. We really love what we do.
When you have a running injury, once you figure out a rough plan of how long you will need off, the anxiety from being unable to run quickly begins to build.
Which is exactly why I previously gave you the 12 ways to deal with injury depression.
As this is something I have dealt with recently, my first major injury in probably 7 years, I thought I would talk about something else we go through. It may resonate with you, even if you are healthy, you probably remember these feelings. If it happens to you again, you will know where to go to know you are not alone.
When you are first told you will need a few weeks (or even months) off running, it seems like such a long time. Fear grips your heart as you brace for a never-ending time of frustration as your fitness slips away.
Will I ever get this fit again?
It feels like all of a sudden, every person you meet, runner or not, wants to ask you about the one thing you don’t want to talk about; running.
As soon as they go to open their mouth, you know what they are going to say. Even someone who would not usually ask about running, on this day they do. As their mouth starts to form shapes to begin talking, you find yourself thinking, PLEASE don’t ask me about my running, please don’t ask me about my running.
You think maybe you have dodged the question when they dont ask right away, but don’t get too confident, they will, and every time, you find yourself bowing your head in shame as you say, “I am injured”.
Then you begin one of two scenarios:
If they are a runner (or understand how much running means to you), they might give you that head side tilt as they ask what happened, genuinely concerned for you, of course wanting you to be healthy, but when you are injured, to you that head tilt means one thing, they are labeling you as injury prone. Especially if you keep getting injured over and over again.
If they are not a runner (or don’t really get why you run), they might ask you why you seem so frustrated about it, “It’s just running” and may even suggest that this sport really isn’t for you if it brings you this much pain, both physically and mentally.
You try to change the subject as quickly as you can, hoping they won’t bring it up again.
If you are in the first few days of your injury, you might spend those few days moping around, I know I do. Feeling sorry for yourself as you try to wrap your brain around whatever goal or race you had in mind that is now looking unlikely. You hope that you will heal faster than expected, but you know deep down, you have a long way to go.
In this situation, the day you can run again feels like it is a lifetime away.
Momentarily, you might get a burst of enthusiasm and motivation as you head to the gym, actually, this could be kind of fun, this will be something new and exciting. I can be one of those gym people. This won’t be so bad.
But 10 minutes into your first cross training session, you remember why you don’t do it. This isn’t fun, you already miss running, and long to be outside again. Even if you do get to go outside, if you are lucky enough to have an elliptigo, you still miss running and get a pang of jeaousy every time you see a runner.
You dread thinking about the rest of your recovery time, how you are going to handle doing this every day, when all you want to do is run. It can be hard to stay positive when all you want to do is run, when running is your stress relief and cross training just isn’t cutting it.
Something to help get you through, like my coming back from injury series, which focuses on the mental side of injuries might ease the frustration for a little while, you WILL come back stronger, faster, happier, even though it doesnt seem like it now.
But nothing can take away that feeling of longing, longing to do the one thing you love.
Until suddenly it is here, and it is time to try again. That wasnt so bad! How is it time to run again? Am I ready? Is it as good as I remembered?
As much as you can hope for that first run to be amazing, that you will enjoy every second of those precious few minutes you get to start with, those thoughts are clouded by a fear that you will feel pain, that it will break your heart again.
‘I’m not ready, i’m not ready.
I talked about this in my recent Tina4Real podcast episode, the paranoia and frustration of those first few runs back. It may feel like it is building up incredibly slow, you have to, to stay safe, but before you know it, you are back running 40 minutes, a definite run, finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Now the real challenge is about to begin, can you get back to fitness without making the same mistake again?
Only time will tell.