I know I’m not the only one who love to run. I also know I’m not the only runner who gets injured. And even more so I know I’m not the only one who goes slightly insane on rest days, none the less while having to take time off running due to injury.
These are my personal tips when it comes to staying sane while being forced to NOT run for days, weeks or months:
1. Stay positive
I know, it’s easier said then done. I spent my first 3 weeks of my time injured wanting to cry. As soon as I though of running or talked about running (and yes, this is most of my awake time) I felt hopeless.. “Will I ever be able to run again? And if I will, will I be able to enjoy it?”.. That’s just one of the thoughts that occupied my time. After those 3 weeks I realized that all that worrying and hopelessness wouldn’t take me closer to being back running. I decided to stay positive. Or at least try. I starts to read about other runners injuries and told myself that if they could come back to running like normal again I could too.
The positive thoughts might have started as complete bullshit, or made up affirmations, but very soon they turned into reality – I WILL be able to run again! No matter how long it would take to get to the point where I could run again (days, weeks, months?), it would be worth the wait. That day when I first get to run somewhat pain free again will be a HAPPY day!
Figure out what parts of your body are still ok to use and focus on building strength and flexibility while you can’t get out running. Chances are you’re going to feel stronger and better in general when it’s time to start running again. It’s also a great way to get the sweat going (even though it might not feel as good as running sweat does?!) and feel good about yourself for staying active.
3. Re-focus and set new goals if necessary
If it looks like you are, like me, missing out on that race you had in mind. That goal that was set up a while ago.. Try not to focus too much on it. Focus on future races instead, maybe there’s a fall race to plan on doing instead of that spring one? It sucks having to start over with training programs and so on, but the reality is that there’s always going to be other races to be run (I know, it took me quite a while to actually feel this way)! I’ve also focused on setting up non-running related goals to take the focus from that one missed race and all those missed beloved training runs. Example: for me the Abs By April challenge brought some new energy and something to work for and really focus on.
4. Motivate yourself (and others)
Put that energy you normally would use for running into gaining new knowledge and motivation. It’s also a great opportunity to look around you and give support and motivation to people who might need it. It feels good being supportive of other runners, wether they are injured or not, and it will come back to you! Yes, I do believe in some kind of karma.
5. Eat well
What happened for me when I got injured was that just a week or so after my last run I got hungry. And by hungry i mean CRAZY hungry! I tweeted about this and got an explaining answer mentioning how running releases hormones that makes you feel less hungry, as mentioned in this article written by Greatist Laura Schwecherl: “..for individuals at a healthy weight, aerobic and anaerobic exercise may suppress appetite by altering the hormones ghrelin and peptide YY.“
My 7 weeks off running gave me 6lbs extra weight. I’m not by any means overweight but it has definitely made me “softer” and I’m not too stoked about it. Not at all! So I realized that this is something to keep in mind. I started eating better and focusing hard on eating smaller servings, eat on set times and snack on good things (such as almonds, greek yoghurt or similar instead of bread and… uhm.. whatever I could find at the moment). Regular and controlled eating is the thing (for me) when I’m not able to run as usual. You might not even notice this of course, but I know I had to deal with it both physically and mentally..
Q: Do you have other tips for staying sane while injured? What did you do to get by?