As we head toward National Running Day on June 6th, we continue to celebrate running stories that touch on the heart and soul of the runner—because that's where we find the inspiration. It's not about miles clocked or races completed. We believe it's actually about the runner, and what he or she does to cross the finish line. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it. So today, we give you Janelle from Run 4 Days. Those of you that are currently suffering running injuries will find her post particularly inspiring:
So you're injured and you can't run your goal race. Your friends are all meeting on Saturday mornings for long runs and you're not out there with them. I totally get it; I've been there. A nasty heel injury last Fall kept me from running for seven months, and I only just returned to the roads this March. I could not run what should have been my first full marathon in November, and I missed months of training runs with my run club. I feel your pain. During those long months of not running, I learned some valuable lessons. I learned how to survive (and thrive) and make the best of a running injury.
1. Become a cheerleader. Go to that race you were supposed to run and be your run club's biggest cheerleader. When the Philadelphia Marathon rolled around in November, I bundled up and supplied water and gels to my friends out on the course. I screamed my head off for them. You could also find a local race and volunteer at the water stops or finish line. Just stay involved in your running community and support the runners who are still out there. It will boost your spirits and fuel the fire for when you can lace up your shoes again.
2. Keep moving. Now is the time to focus on cross training and strength training. Hop on a bike, swim, or try an appropriate fitness class. During my recovery, I thoroughly enjoyed weekly yoga and barre sessions. Let me tell you, barre is tough! Talk about focused strength and coordination. Many running injuries are caused by an imbalance that leads to compensation in your gait. Focus on your weaknesses and strive to come back stronger. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist and make sure any activity that you're doing not going to injure you further.
3. Take Advantage. Do the things that you’ve been putting off. Write in your journal. Watch that running documentary. Meet up with that friend you haven't seen in ages. Use your time wisely and be selfish! You have the extra time now, so take advantage of it.
4. Stop Googling your symptoms. Sometimes Google can help—but a majority of the time, Googling your symptoms is a complete waste of time. Google told me I had heel spurs and nerve entrapment, which I can tell you right now was not the cause of my injury. Instead, surround yourself with a team that you trust. After many doctors’ appointments and imaging studies, I found that my best resources were my physical therapist, my chiropractor and my massage therapist. It all depends on the injury, but these people are professionals for a reason. Use them.
5. Come back slowly. Seriously, slow down. Really, even slower. After taking a good amount of time off, you can't expect your body to return to the same level of fitness. Depending on the injury, you may need to get used to the pounding again. Even if it feels good, have the patience and control to hold back and think about the long term. Keep doing your therapy and cross training—and always listen to your medical team! No exceptions. And no excuses:
6. Stay positive. I know it’s easier said than done, but keep your head up. Have a small pity party and then move on. Spend some time with friends and enjoy a few laughs. You will not feel this way forever and this injury will pass. Those months without running may seem like forever, but your time will come. You will get back out on the road just like I have!