Injury…the most dreaded word in an athlete’s vocabulary. The only thing harder than running is NOT RUNNING when you're injured. My lights have gone dim for the last 3 weeks, and I am missing every mile I would have run. It's painful. When I'm injured, it is as though I am spiritually knocked on my behind. I am forced to sit there and I am forced to deal with it. It is completely challenging to have any motivation because I feel as though a part of me is gone. I know that sounds dramatic, and it is. Sometimes the truth is too dramatic to even admit to yourself, let alone other people.
And I've gone through the classic stages:
Denial-running though the injury
Anger- Why did I allow this to happen? How could I be so stupid
Bargaining- please, if I can just run, I promise I will never ever complain again.
Despair- I will never run again. My life is over.
I've finally hit acceptance- Ok, so maybe I NEED to take a break. Some rest and rehab and I will be back on my running game soon. It might take weeks, it might even take moths. Every time I think I've accepted it, a few days go by and I’m still in pain, I go right back to feeling as though I’ll never run again. Logically I know I’m being ridiculous. I know that my injury isn’t really all that bad, its just a tear in my peroneal tendon. And that there’s a chance I’m being just a tad over-dramatic. But logic doesn’t always win.
Why am I not OK with my current situation? I mean, aside from the obvious physical pain and limitations.
Is it because it messed with my routine and how I identify myself? Because I am afraid I’m missing out and that it would make me less than as a social media-er, because I can’t share insights from my latest run or yoga session or because I can’t post fun yoga pictures every day?
Yes, yes and yes.
But do those things matter?
I hate to talk about being injured blah blah, but when you’re injured, that’s what you think about all the time. But I am working on finding my "OK".
The thing is, I think that we all need to find our OK in life, yes?
Anyways, with all this down time, its given me plenty of time to reflect back on those 'would've, could've, should've' moments during my training. The times I think I was pushing myself too hard, not taking my training seriously enough or running through other injuries that I shouldn't have been. If we all look back I'm sure there are a million things each of us would change. I'm not currently training due to my injury, but when I come back I'd like to be stronger mentally and approach it differently. Perhaps I learned a thing or two while marathon training? I'm excited to revamp my training and get back to it once my body allows. My takeaways from training for my first marathon are this:
(I by no means know anything, I'm just sharing my thoughts on what I personally have learned during my training.)
1. Things WILL get rocky: We've all heard it before, and I will repeat it: You’re not the running hero you think you are, things WILL get rocky. Your body will fail you. Your mind will fail you. Your supporters will fail you. Accept that not all days will be good days and move on. Plain and simple. I know I struggle with this one myself. Bad performances and feeling like a failure are just temporary. Don’t give up, I promise another run will pull you through.
2. Look for the light: Look for the little moments on your run that can pull you through the “dark period.” I try to focus on the strangers on the road. Feed off their energy. Focus on that light rather than the pain or any negative feelings. This is harder on training runs because there is no crowd. In those instances, I have been completely guilty of pulling out my phone on a run and getting a pep-talk from some of my nearest and dearest runner friends I respect the most. I am completely guilty of doing this during the Chicago marathon too. I have no shame. Ha.
3. There is no such thing as a “bad run”: OK, hear me out on this one because I can hear you arguing with me already. What I mean is, Don’t get overly disappointed with your performance. Don’t set expectations too high or feel like you have to stick rigorously to your training plans if your body is tired. Let it go, run YOUR run and let your body lead the way. Your body and your mind aren't always in the same place. We all have goals and sometimes we don't meet them. It's ok. I know that feeling all too well. It wasn't until recently that I started achieving my running goals and up until then I had questioned my abilities as a runner if I couldn't hit my goals. It will happen. Be patient and use the 'bad' runs as a learning moment. Each run, good or bad, teaches us something about ourselves. If I hadn't started seeing things this way, i'm not so sure I would have survived the marathon. I said this in one of my last posts but I want to say it again- I can’t say enough how much running changes your life. It breaks you down but only proves how strong you are, mentally and physically.
The temptation to get out there is very real, the only thing stopping me is fear. Fear that if I push my self too soon it'll cost me even more time on the sidelines. Social media isn't helping my temptations, watching all the people who inspire me run their marathons or friends who talk about upcoming events, its got me very envious. I can only hope this injury doesn't keep me out too long, I definitely underestimated how much I'd miss running.
Dream Big. Work Hard. :)