6 weeks with no running due to injury, and it’s safe to say, that I’ve learnt a lot about myself. As have the people around me! It turns out that I run as much for my mental health as my physical. And without it, I’m something of a caged animal. Who knew?!
So with that in mind, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt over the last couple of months, about staying sane whilst you’re injured.
Concentrate on what you CAN do, not what you can’t
This is the single, best piece of advice I’ve been given. It’s human nature to make comparisons with what you could, or should be doing, but when you’re injured it’s probably the quickest way to self destruct! Instead I’ve found that focussing on what I CAN do, that I couldn’t a week ago, makes me feel far more optimistic and less impatient. I’m certainly not a cycling fan, but being allowed to get back on a bike to do some cardio this week has been a huge positive. And even while I was wearing a boot, I still tried to concentrate on what I could do; a whole lot of core and upper body work.
Patience is not about how long you wait, but how you behave while you wait
The time that you are unable to run will remain the same. What you choose to do with that time though, is entirely up to you. You can mope around, feel sorry for yourself and lose your fitness while you do. Or, you can act positively and take control of your recovery. Working on your weaknesses is one great way to build a stronger come back and not feel like you’re wasting time.
I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to get to this stage, but once I realised that I was in control and could still make these decisions, I felt a whole lot better. It’s amazing how much most exercises can be adapted. In a boot and can’t squat? No problem, use the boot as a weight and do some side lying leg lifts for gluteal strengthening. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You just need to harness the will.
You’ll only be as positive as you make up your mind to be
For me, this was the first time an injury has been severe enough to make me pull out of a race. I found it particularly tough. It was a local race and lots of people kept asking if I was running. My reply was always: ‘I can’t’, as if someone was stopping me. One day I thought about why I wasn’t racing. No one was really stopping me, were they? I wasn’t being held at gun point. So by default, I was still the one at the driving wheel making the decisions. I, was the only one stopping me.
As soon as I realised that I had an active choice to make, and started thinking more along the lines of ‘I’m choosing not to race because I want my foot to get better’, I felt empowered. It always feels better to be doing something rather than nothing. Even when the something, is the active decision to do nothing! The difference between something being your choice, rather than forced upon you, is huge.
Wow, human brains are complex. I wonder if my dog ever has these worries…..
Make the most of opportunities that you can’t normally take
Marathon training creates a serious dent in the time you have to do anything else. It also leaves you permanently exhausted. Running is a huge part of my life, but so are my friends and family, and sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that balance. Having an enforced break has helped me to see just how often I say no to things because I have a training session to do. I’ve made a real effort to embrace my extra time, even if it’s just taking my friends children to the park on a Sunday morning. When I’m back to training fully, I’m going to try to find a better balance than I’ve had in the past. Injury is certainly a good opportunity to re-evaluate your priorities.
Using your extra time to volunteer is also a great way to stay involved in running and give something back to the running community. If you’re always racing or running at parkrun, you can’t volunteer. But the park run community is so friendly, that it’s almost like going to therapy or having a support group. You’ll definitely feel better afterwards.
So, to summarise, there’s never a good time to be injured. And to be immature about it, it sucks! But like most things in life. You might not be able to change the situation, but you do have a choice in how you react to it. The last 6 weeks have been full of soul searching and at times I know I’ve been a nightmare. If you’re reading this because you’re currently injured, I feel ya! Responding to injury takes a lot of readjustment, and I’m definitely guilty of not always taking my own advice. I am doing my best though. And remember, without a bad day, you can’t have a good one.
Good luck and wishing you the speediest of recoveries.