Running Injuries: How to Cope when you feel more 0 than Hero
Even Running Heroes get injured. You had runner’s high and now you’ve come down with a thud. No doubt your minds running wild, whilst your body’s not running anywhere… but fear not, we’ve got tips to help you stop yourself going into meltdown mode.
Don’t dish out invites to your pity party
Yes, after you get injured it’s normal to swear as you shuffle home, it’s then also perfectly acceptable to have a little cry and moaning is inevitable, at least for the first few hours, but then stop. Get it out your system. Continuously reminding everyone of how rubbish it is you’re injured isn’t going to make you feel great and nor is it going to speed up the recovery. You’re going to moan about it, of course you are, injuries are annoying, but try not to make it 24/7. 24/7 whiners may find their running buddies don’t want to run with them again when they’re back ready to rumble, in fear they may have to listen to the moaning again if they get a repeat injury!
Stop comparing yourself to others
Your self worth is not dictated by how many likes your workout selfie gets on instagram. I REPEAT, your self worth is not dictated by how many likes your workout selfie gets on instagram! Whilst you’re recovering it can be easy to end up spending your extra time scouring through fitness posts, spending hours and hours of scrolling time comparing yourself to others and feeling miserable because you can’t do what they can. Don’t get me wrong, I think social media is great, but when you’re injured or failing that - hungry, it can cause your brain to go havoc! Just put the phone down, don’t spend hours staring at a monitor wondering why you got hurt. The stars of instagram get hurt too you know, it just so happens that a post like that doesn’t get so many likes.
Injury time is an opportunity to recover and grow stronger
Some of the best advice I’ve been given is to “see injury time as an opportunity” and as much as at the time I thought “opportunity for what you (insert any not very nice word)!?!” I now realise that once you take the focus away from what you can't do and shift it to what you can, opportunity is created from the way you teach your body to recover. Injury automatically forces you to listen more to how your body is feeling, be more intuitive and take notice of how you’re recovering. Using this time to focus on the joint in question: how it is built, how it operates and how it works in harmony with the rest of the body can help to prevent a recurrence. Dependant on the injury, you can use this time to sharpen up other areas with cross training, or failing that spend the time investing in a new skill, or reading up on training techniques.
They tried to make me go to rehab and I said GO GO GO! Say yes to rehab time, obviously not to an institute for your life of sex, drugs and rock and roll, but instead just taking time to add in some rehab sessions can help improve your recovery and prevent a repeat performance. Stretching, mobility exercises, foam rolling and (if you feel like treating yourself) even a sports massage can help your body to recover.
No tears and Ben and Jerry’s
The temptation when you're running comes off the rails can be to give up on everything else, but don’t go Bridget Jones on me just yet! You can maintain your health by maintaining your diet whilst you recover, in fact it can even become part of your recovery. For example Turmeric and Ginger have both been famed for their anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric can help to manage inflammation by bringing it down to levels where healing and recovery can occur faster. The curcumin in Turmeric actually modulates the inflammatory response by down-regulating the activity of COX-2, lipoxygenase and iNOS enzymes, among other anti-inflammatory actions, which can help you to recover from injury quicker.
Never be lonely
When sport becomes so important in your life it’s warped with your identity, if you get injured it can often feel like your social life unravels. Keep in touch with your running pals and meet them for coffee’s and yoga (if your injury allows). Give yourself credit, there is more to you than just being someone’s running buddy, yes it’s great that you and your friends run together, but now you’re injured, you’re still just as awesome and your friends aren't going to suddenly forget that.
I’m the kind of person that will stress about being too stressed. So when it comes to being injured it’s time to take a chill pill. Stressing can cause hormone changes in your body which will make the recovery process last longer and can lead to weight gain, which is certain to keep you feeling even more naff! Control cortisol by finding a way to unwind that isn’t running, or even run related - this will only remind you of your injury. Read a book, go to bed early and avoid alcohol if possible, as it is a depressant. Drown your sorrows with a recovery swim in a pool, not a few bottles of red.
Learn from your mistakes
This one's an oldie but a goodie. Most injuries are caused in the moments between “ouch that hurts” and “I’ll just soldier on”, as soon as you feel a niggle, you should address the injury. Access your injury, was it your technique or was it the trainers you were wearing? Which areas do you need to strengthen? Did you know the Kenyans don’t count their weekly mileage. Why? They listen to their bodies and then don’t feel guilty if they don’t meet their weekly mileage.
One of the biggest tests of all runners is coming back from an injury and staying injury free. Inevitably in the time you’ve had off, your fitness will have weakened and your first run will always be tough. Fitness is so fragile. You are not Balboa, you don’t need to go straight back out in the ring for the knockout, take your time easing your body back into training and increasing your running gradually. The cautious comeback is key here to keep on top of your game, be grateful for every mile.
Strength shines in not only the ability to persist, but the ability to start over.
Vicky Gardner is a Level 3 Personal Trainer and writer for premium ethical activewear brand Sundried. “Running for me is all about taking baby steps - quite literally for me as my legs are super short! I might not be the fasted nor do I look attractive in my running shade of crimson, but I’m still getting out there and doing something to be healthier. I’m pretty proud of my sweaty mess self as I plod along and always admire the courage of the runners I see out and about.”