Coping with a Running Injury: How to Find a Bright Side
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Coping with a Running Injury: Finding the Bright Side

Confession: I’m depressed. This is something I don’t like admitting, considering our world’s current events and how not being able to run is hardly tragic. But I haven’t gone for a run in five weeks. I missed the Chicago Marathon, a race that had been on my bucket list for years. I can’t run now. I might not be able to run for another two to three weeks, if I’m lucky.

So I’m depressed.

This week’s topic for the Tuesdays on the Run Blog Link Up hosted by My No Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs is about Tapering and Quirks. I’m on a permanent taper until my foot heals. It’s giving me tons of quirks. So let’s do this.

Coping with a Running Injury: Finding the Bright SideCoping with a Running Injury: How to Find the Bright Side

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To fully understand the cause of my depression, I have to admit something else, something I’m not particularly proud of. I’ve hardly written fiction this year despite the fact that my biggest goal is to sell a third novel. The reasons behind my prolonged writer’s block are far too complex for this post, so let me quickly summarize by saying:

All writers are challenged by mental demons.

Mine have been winning.

Add to that my potential stress fracture, and I’ve been one whiny puppy. You see, for the longest time, I’ve defined myself as being two things: A writer and runner. That’s my identity, who I am, what people know me for.

Writing and running.

Losing them both … one from choice, one from injury, has left me feeling lost. Empty. Unfulfilled and now, everywhere I look, there seems to be runners everywhere. On the road. In beer commercials. On my social media feeds, with folks holding up their medals or taking pictures of their Garmin stats, taunting me with their healthy feet. And then there’s my biggest fear:

What if I can never run again?

What if this is the injury that ends my running career for good? I mean, I am almost 48. My body does not heal as well as someone half my age, plus there’s the fact that my extremely high pain tolerance might have kept me from knowing the extent of my injury. How high is that tolerance? I get cavities filled with no Novacaine plus I had two natural childbirths, one of which resulted in an almost ten-pounder.

It’s high, y’all.

So at first, I thought the ache was from too much walking at Disneyland. Twice I even felt good enough to do light runs on the treadmill. What if I did even more damage by not seeing the doctor sooner? And then there the possible causes of my injury:

1.) It could of been from me not being conditioned enough.

2.) I should of known better than to switch from a highly stabilizing shoe, (Asics Kayano,) to a less stabilizing one, (Ascis GT-2000,) right before the Dumbo Double Dare, since I’m over pronating less, according to the owner of my favorite shoe store.

3.) I would of possibly had stronger bones less prone to a fracture had I been more vigilant with my calcium intake for the past ten years.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

How could I make such stupid choices? I’m a running blogger, for God’s sake. Someone who wants to inspire others and educate them. What kind of role model am I, if I can’t follow my own advise?

But enough.

I can’t change my choices. I can’t wish away my injury or go back in time to undo the damage. The only thing I can do is learn my lesson … which admittedly makes me want to roll my eyes at myself … and try to find the bright side. By digging deep.

Really, really deep.

So I dug. Deep. And after some reflection, I came up with an actual list of benefits … albeit very forced, desperate, I’ll do anything to shake this depression benefits of being sidelined with an injury.

Coping with a #Running Injury. #werunsocial #runchat #TuesdaysontheRun Share on X

1.) You discover exactly how much … and why you love running.

Since I’ve been on a confession roll, here’s another: I used to wonder if I loved running mostly because of the bling. Because of getting together with dear friends for shared runDisney racecations or enjoying the commraderie with other adventurous souls at a local race.

And because I’m the kind of person who needs a crossed finish line to feel good about myself.

But do I love to run?

For example, there’s a woman in my church who hardly signs up for races but runs five miles each and every day, rain or shine, in order to stay sane. She loves running just for the sheer act of placing one foot in front of the other on the open road. Never for just a medal. If I didn’t have a race to train for, would I do the same? Would I lace up and slog five miles through bad weather?

Well, that’s not a fair question because I’d be on a treadmill in bad weather, but still.

Do I love running enough to run even if there were no race, bling, friends, or finish line? Which is the same as asking if I love writing enough to write if there is no published book as an outcome?

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with running for those reasons only. If the lure of big bling gets you out of bed and out the door, then God bless it. And there’s nothing wrong with writing for money either. Crafting a book or writing articles or being a freelancer is hard work. It’s totally fine having a payment as your final goal. But despite my love of bling, I’ve discovered my personal answer:

I love to run.

Just placing one foot after another on the open road.

No, I won’t ever pop willingly out of bed at 4:30 in the morning hollering OH MY GOSH I CANNOT WAIT TO TRAIN. But I love running. I’ve always been fascinated with being your own transportation. Your own motor, one capable enough to travel twenty six miles. Plus, there’s always the Zombieland Rule One: CARDIO for the ability to outrun a gang of zombies.

Now if the apocalypse hits, I’ll be among the first to go.

2.) It’s a good time to evaluate your fitness level by doing other activities.

Doctor approved ones, of course.

For example, I’ve been cleared for biking, the elliptical machine, upper body weight training, and Pilates done on the floor. Let me tell ya. After my first session on the stationary bike and round of push ups, my thighs and arms ached, letting me know exactly how slacking I’ve been with cross training.

Which, I must add, can help prevent injuries.

So now, with the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the WDW Goofy Challenge looming closer, I’ve been vigilant about (safely) training as much as possible. I even took an enjoyable thirty mile bike ride at Ocean City last weekend, in an attempt to shake off my missed Chicago blues.

It didn’t work. Came close, though.

3.) You can Prepare to Come Back Stronger

Now is the time to evaluate what has been working … and what hasn’t been working with your training.

For me, I haven’t been devoted to doing just about everything I said I was going to do in my Going from a Casual to Serious Runner post from the end of July. Again, not something I’m proud of or want to confess … but life has been throwing punches and I haven’t done a good job dodging them.

Which makes me doubly upset about missing the Chicago Marathon, knowing it was my own darn fault.

But no more depression talk. I’ve already beaten that dead horse until its nothing but a pile of hide and hooves. It’s time for me to shake off the blues, roll my sleeves up, and come up with a solid comeback plan, one where I’m smarter, wiser, and stronger. Mine so far consists of Three C’s:

Consistency, Cross Training, and Corrected Form.

And perhaps the strongest card in my comeback deck is…

4.) You can use your injury as motivation once you’re healed.

I NEVER want to get another stress fracture.

I NEVER want to be sidelined with an injury again.

I WANT to be the person flooding other people’s social media feeds with pictures of my Garmin showing how many miles I did or me holding up my medals.

(Hey, just being honest here.)

This is exactly why I am writing this blog post, so I can use these words when I’m healthy as motivation to get myself out the door for a run instead of wallowing in bed, hitting the snooze alarm. So I will look at my training as a blessing and privilege rather than an inconvenience. So I will remember how painful it felt to lose my identity and how much I feared never being able to run again.

I hope these words also motivate you to turn off the alarm and run. To allow running to be a part of your identity.

To run while you can.

And while you’re at it … please. Do everything you can to prevent running from being taken away from you.

QOTD:  Are you now or have you ever been sidelined with an injury? How did you cope? Because I could use some more tips.

Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger, vlogger, wife to an amazing guy for 26 years, mom of two wonderful boys, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that plus she can quote most lines from Talladega Nights. Shake and bake!

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  1. First, hugs & my sympathies. Second, what you DO is not who you ARE. Third, yes, when we can’t run, running is everywhere.

    Injuries do have lessons for us, and they’re a bitter pill to swallow. But even when you do everything “right”, you can still be sidelined. You can also come back stronger.

    I had to chuckle at the I’m 48 & don’t bounce back so quick. I started running at that age! I have no intention of ever stopping.

    1. Thanks for the hugs!! And absolutely, I know of someone who trained her rear off and then simply stepped off a curb and shattered her foot. Things happen when you’re an athlete. Speaking of athletes, I love how you started to run at 48 – that’s so awesome! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Oh Laura. I hate that you’re going through this but I love what you wrote. I can relate on so many levels. When I get injured the “maybe I’ll never run again” demon always comes up in my head. Always. As you listed, there’s always a silver lining and a more positive perspective to see things from. Kudos to you for doing that. You will bounce back. You will. Believe it. Hang in there. xoxo

    1. Thanks so much, Marcia! I woke up this morning and decided to no longer be depressed … at least not until my MRI results come back. 😉 And I’m going to enter the lottery for next year’s Chicago. Hope I get to finally meet you there! 🙂

  3. I have faced a few running injuries and felt so many of the emotions that you’ve expressed. The stress fracture was the worst…so many months lost. I hope that things turn around for you soon! Getting injured seems to be a part of the running journey, but like you, I’m hoping to never experience it again!

    1. That’s so true and something that would have been good to include – injury IS a part of the running journey! Today I’m working on accepting this and moving on instead of beating myself up about. You know what Dr. Phil would say. “How’s that working for ya?” Not great. 😉
      Thanks for stopping by, Janelle!

  4. Sorry to hear that your are dealing with this. Injuries are never fun. Hopefully you can find some other activities you can enjoy in the mean time that doesn’t involve running.

    1. Thanks, Lacey! I am getting more writing done at least and thank goodness for the bike – I’d drive my husband completely insane if I couldn’t do anything! 😉

  5. I can absolutely relate. I missed the 2011 Chicago Marathon with a stress fracture that took me 3 months to heal …. and then it felt like starting over again. You will get through it and you will run again and it will be wonderful! Keeping my fingers crossed for you with your MRI results!

    1. Thanks so much, Lindsay! The three months healing time makes me nervous with W&D and the WMD Marathon weekend coming up, but it is what it is, nothing I can do about it now. I’ll finish them both with a boot if I have to! 😉
      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thank you for sharing, Lindsay! If you don’t mind my asking, which activities did you do during the first six weeks after your injury was diagnosed? My podiatrist said no elliptical, no bicycle, no swimming, no pilates or yoga — or anything else that would either place weight on the ball of my foot or bend my toes. Aside from that, it would be difficult to do those in a big plastic boot, which I’m supposed to wear at all times other than bedtime and shower time.

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