My run of choice is long distance trail and this can be hard on my body.
If you run enough, you likely will get knocked out of the game with injuries. I would argue that getting injured and working through it is part of the training process.
Being sidelined with an injury opens up an exploratory mental space that is invaluable to running. It checks your ego, it reminds you how fortunate you are to be able to run at all and nods to the pure fact that none of us are promised a thing. We are not entitled to health or running or life or any of it.
I am currently injured and it’s been quite a journey to cobble treatments together to get back out running. I will spare details here and jump to what I do when I can’t run. I consciously use my run down time to work on things that will help my running once I return – the things I often neglect in training and probably contributed to my current state of less-than-healthy.
- Rest – I sleep a much as I can because I love it so much AND it helps the healing process.
- Eat better – I no longer eat whatever I want – I make an effort to eat cleaner foods and hydrate a ton.
- Cross train – I vary safe workouts. Strengthening the body is key to maintaining fitness, building confidence and not going insane.
- Keep moving – If walking is safe, I wear my Garmin every day to track my steps.
- Listen to my body – weirdly, not running makes me highly attuned to what is going on with my body and I practice paying attention to it and is a crucial tool to avoiding injury in the future. I pay attention during my workouts and try out a slow, short jog to see how things feel. I mostly consider how I feel mentally and physically when I am not running.
- Projects – I take the extra time I have to work on photography, writing, organizing my house. Right now it’s updating my portfolios, this blog and this.
- Re-evaluate – I think about why I run and why I do it. I consider my goals and map out next steps for what my body can handle safely. I re-commit to the parts of running that are manageable for me in my current state. I set new, realistic goals that I am excited about – even if that goal is to do a short, slow track run.
- Submit – Short of a brief little internal pity party I shut up about what’s going on and remember that there is always a chance running (or anything) can be taken away at a moment’s notice. I visualize getting back out there and try to accept setbacks with grace. I don’t throw tantrums or whine about how much it sucks because it doesn’t, I am learning and growing in this space of injury. I don’t get jealous of other people reaching their goals and I go to races and support my fellow runners. Running is a luxury and to be able to have the means to dedicate time to it is a hardcore reminder I am a very fortunate person.