Being injured sucks. You’re on a roll, feeling great about yourself and making progress, then you get injured and all your hard work feels like it’s gone to waste. All the time you dedicated to training each day now has to be replaced with something less rewarding and boring. You feel lazy, your routine is lost, you see everyone else running out on a beautiful, warm evening while you stay at home with your tape on doing your exercises in hope that you’ll be able to join them soon. There is no doubt, being injured sucks.
This year my goal was to go through the winter running season injury free. Everything was of to a good start initially. I was building up my training in the pre-season and even managed to grab a decent PB in the first race of the season. Then unfortunately, while playing futsal one night, I felt a sudden pain in my knee. Oh shit. I had to stop for a minute but was able to keep playing. I thought that maybe it was just something small. Nope. I tried to run the next day, but my knee was in so much pain 5km in that I had to turn back. It was dumb to try that, but I refused to accept that I had been injured again. I was going so well. After a few more failed attempts at trying to run it off, I booked a physio appointment and found I had strained a quad tendon.
I hate being injured. If I can’t run I feel like crap. Running allows me to get out each day for at least 30 minutes and clear my head. I always feel better after a run. When I can’t run, I get into a bit of a hole. Even though it’s mostly out of my control, I still feel guilty about being injured. When a hobby like running means so much to someone, all of a sudden not being able to do it can have a big impact on that person’s daily life. Having not being able to run pain free for about three weeks now, I decided to do write a post on how I do my best to cope with being injured. Below is a list of ideas from personal experience on how to make this forced down time a little more bearable.
Talk about how you feel
Being injured can have not only a physical toll on your body, but also an emotional one. It’s best to talk about and verbalise any negative feelings rather than keeping them bottled up. I often feel guilty and lazy when I can’t go for a run even when it is clear that running is not an option with the injury. Talking about these feelings makes me realise that there is no real rationale behind them and makes me feel more ok with taking the time off to rest and recover. If you don’t want to discuss these feelings with someone else, you could try journaling. Writing all the bad thoughts floating around your head about your injury on a piece of paper can be a great alternative to letting it all out.
Find something else to do which leaves you satisfied
One reason I enjoy running is that it is a sport where progress is easy to see. Running longer distances and setting PB’s leaves me with a feeling of achievement which can get addictive at times. When I can’t run, I no longer feel like I’m achieving anything. Finding another hobby to focus on can be a great way to feel like you’re still achieving something while being injured. It could be anything. You could do another form of exercise which doesn’t require the injured area, or you could do something as simple as a puzzle. I’m sitting here writing away as my alternative to running at the moment because it gives me that sense of working hard and achieving something at the end of it.
Set realistic goals
Goal setting is a crucial skill which everyone should learn. It can be utilised in any area of someone’s life. Having goals provides you with direction and focus towards a desired outcome. Set a main goal of being able to fully recover from the injury but break the journey down into micro goals along the way. For example, my micro goal at the moment are to simply complete the exercises my physio has given me until my next appointment. Keeping these goals short and realistic means you are more likely to achieve them. You are less likely to come up disappointed and it ensures that you are not going too hard too fast, allowing your body the time it needs to recover. Using the SMART system of goal setting is a great way to achieve this. I will be writing about how to utilise this framework in a future article.
Maintain other healthy habits
When you are injured it is easy to let other healthy habits slip up too. It is crucial that when you’re injured that you maintain healthy eating, stay hydrated and take care of your mental health. Meditating can be a great way to reflect on any negative emotions and learn to become present in the moment. It is also a chance to practice thinking positively. Maintaining these healthy habits can be hard to do, but set goals and direct your energy which you would normally use on running towards maintaining what you can still be in control off. It will help you on your recovery journey. Make sure you listen to your physio if you have one. A good physio will provide you with important stretches, exercises and advice which you should adhere to if you want to recover as soon as possible.
Running can be a great form of socialising if you are apart of a running group like I am. It’s my usual weekend activity. Being injured means I can’t take part in the weekly Saturday club runs. This gives me major FOMO. It’s important to use this spare time when injured to stay socialised and connect with others. Go out and do something with a friend. I can’t run at the moment, but I am still able to walk so I use this spare time to go out for a small nature walk with family as it is an alternative, light form of exercise which allows me to connect with those close to me and get some fresh air.
These are just a few things which have helped me through any period of injury. There’s no doubt that any time off due to injury will suck, but if you follow these tips then it can become more bearable and you’ll be able to bounce back stronger than ever.