For me, the hardest part about running is dealing with injuries. I have had everything from femoral stress fractures to shin splints to plantar fasciitis. It is always tough when you realize (or when the doctor tells you) that after months of working hard and training, you have to take a break from running because of an injury. I usually allow myself a day or two to mope about an injury. Then I try my hardest to find ways to bounce back from the disappointment and be a resilient runner. How we handle our set-backs will determine our happiness and success in life.
1. Focus on what you can do.
Talk to your doctor and find different forms of exercise that you can do to help you to keep up your fitness while you are taking a break from running. I have learned over the years that I love biking, swimming, pool running and yoga during times that I am recovering from an injury. During your injury, you can focus on getting stronger by working on strength training and core work. When you do return to running, you will be stronger than ever. Spend this time on finding new passions that you will also really enjoy.
2. Make new goals.
A few years ago I found out the week before the Boston Marathon that I wouldn’t be able to run the race because of stress fractures. I was devastated. A few days later I signed up for the New York City Marathon and made that my new goal race. There will always be another race. If you are forced to miss some races because of sickness or injury, find a new one to sign up for and work towards getting to that starting line healthy and strong.
3.Don’t give up!
Almost all runners have had injuries during their training. It is normal to have set-backs in your running. We have all experience these. I love reading about how many of the elite runners bounce back after an injury and come back stronger. Their examples help to inspire me to stay positive.
4. Learn from your mistakes.
If your injury was caused by a mistake on your part (overtraining, muscle weaknesses, not stretching), take the time to read and learn about how to avoid making the same mistake in the future. Mistakes and failures are opportunities for us to learn and grow. The more we learn about our bodies and how we can best train, the better runners we will become down the road.
5. Be okay with less than perfect.
Our bodies aren’t perfect. We aren’t superman. Sometimes we get injured, and that is just part of not being perfect. Be easy on yourself during this time. When we realize that we can’t possibly be perfect, we will start to see our set-backs as part of running. Then we will be able to bounce back easier.
6. Focus on your nutrition.
It takes calories and nutrients for your body to heal itself. Make sure that you are eating plenty of healthy foods to help your body bounce back from your injury as soon as possible.
You may not be in control of your injury or running setback, but you are in control of your attitude and actions during this time.