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Shared with permission of Natalie Mitchell, blogger at NatRunsFar.com
Last summer, I spent four and a half months recovering from extensive knee surgery. This summer has been a three-and-a-half-month battle with plantar fasciitis. Two totally different injuries, but at the end of the day it all equals one thing: not running.
We’ve all had our share of injuries and setbacks, but how do we deal with getting back out on the road? With knee surgery, I knew that it would be a super slow process, and I was happy when I was able to run one lap around the track.
With my foot, I would begin to feel better and go for a slow 4-mile run, followed by a slow 5-mile run. Yeah, no—my foot was not happy at all. So, I was back to the beginning, with additional time off from running and periods of sadness.
Finally, you feel better and get the okay to start running again. Where do you even begin?
Leave your attitude at the door
Just because you were in great shape a couple of months ago doesn’t mean your body is ready for any of that right now. Clear your mind of the sub-whatever mile on the track, or the badass tempo runs your were running every week. You need to go back to square one. For instance, today I ran 2 minutes slow followed by 1 minute of walking for a total of 2 miles.
Let your body digest that and try again the next day. If it hurts, back off. If it doesn’t hurt—hooray!! Keep it slow and easy and gradually increase the miles, making sure you don’t experience any pain. Don’t forget to stretch!
Find other ways to keep up your fitness
I know, I know, we just want to run, right? But since that is off the table, I have one word for you: SWIM.
Oh, and if you don’t know how to swim—POOL RUN. It is super easy: purchase an Aqua Jogger, strap it on and start running. Easy peasy. Bored? Get a pair of waterproof headphones, or just think about what awesome shape you will be in when you are back on the road. PS: I love swimming so much now, that I will continue as additional cross-training for running.
Your shins, knees, foot, etc.. are injured, but you can still (check with the doc to make sure) work on the strength in your arms. When I was recovering from knee surgery, I would sit in a chair and lift weights a few times a week. You do what you gotta do.
Also, talk to your doc or physical therapist about what may have caused your injury and how you can strength a problem area.
Write down your goals
It’s so easy to get down on ourselves because we aren’t actively working toward our running goals. Write down what you want to achieve and put it in a place where you can look at it every day. Whether it’s training for your first marathon, running a sub-1:30 half marathon, or just running because it releases the stress from your day, don’t give up on your goals. They may be a bit delayed, but they are still real and attainable.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles
We want to be awesome all the time, but everyone has their low points. Humble yourself and share your struggles with a friend or family member. Heck, I share my struggles on social media and people can see that it’s not all rainbows and roses. I had one woman write to me that she was sad about missing her first marathon due to injury. It feels great to lift up someone else and send them great vibes of healing.
We’ve all been there, and before you know it—you’ll be back on the road, crushing those goals.
Go get it!!