Being injured sucks, there's no way around that. Injuries always seem to occur at the most inopportune times and throw a wrench in your perfectly designed training schedule.
Every injury, no matter how big or small, sends a runner through the 5 stages of grief. 1. Denial: "There's no way this is a 'real' injury, I'll just take a day off and try again tomorrow.” 2. Anger: "I can't believe this is happening to me, I hate my (fill in body part here)!” 3. Bargaining: "If I can just get through this race I promise I'll take time off of running and go to PT.” 4. Depression: "I'll never be able to run again.” 5. Acceptance: "I'll listen to my PT and do the work to get back to running again.” The 6th stage, in my opinion, is the Blessing in Disguise stage. We don’t talk much about this, but we should! It allows us to reflect and improve ourselves for future training.
First, we learn that we aren't superhuman. In addition to running, things like your work schedule, social life, and time spent on recovery and nutrition can all play a large role in how well our bodies handle training. Fatigue, high mileage and improper re-fueling can all lead to injuries on their own but together, your chances of getting hurt can triple. Sometimes it takes a sidelining injury to realize- we can't ALWAYS do it all. And in addition to recovering physically, we need to recover mentally as well.
That leads us to (hopefully) become more focused, in-tune with our bodies, and overall better runners. Recovering from an injury is the perfect time to seek guidance from the professionals and re-assess your training plans and mileage. Look at your race and social calendar. Are you racing every weekend? Going for a long run and immediately to brunch? Are you forgetting to include strengthening and stretching in your training? Do you sit at your desk for 8+ hours a day? Now is the time to address all of the above and see where changes, modifications and improvements can be made.
What can you (and we) do to minimize the risk of re-injury? At the end of the day, injuries still suck. But once you're over them and back to your normal routine, you have a new gratitude and appreciation for running. Every run may not be perfect, or goes as planned, but you're out there running. We can't change the past, but we can always learn from it.
Lisbeth Hoyt, DPT