The 5 Stages of Grief: Injured Runner Thoughts
Denial—-"I’m not hurt, I just have to push through. 5 miles isn’t bad, and plus it’s a easy run!!! I think I just slept wrong on my (insert body part hurting here)"
Anger—- "@$*# I can’t run, I can’t workout, my whole day is ruined and my body is failing me!!!!! Look at all these happy runners out here—-screw you!!!!"
Bargaining—- "Ok, maybe if I take it easy in the morning I can run tonight or during lunch. If that doesn’t work I can always wake up extra early tomorrow and squeeze in a few miles then take the rest of the day super easy.....I’ll be happy if I can even just go a mile, that won’t hurt at alllllll." (All the above is a lie)
Depression—-"I’m going to lose all my fitness and have to start all over (promptly puts all running clothes, mugs and medals out of sight." More than likely a empty running shoe box just to really rub in the pain because we just like to make ourselves struggle more
Acceptance—- "It’s OK! I’m going to rest and enjoy the down time and come back fully healed and recovered so I set myself up for long term success." (Or at least this is what we SHOULD say but honestly how many of us actually get to the acceptance stage?)
Running can sometimes suck, working out can sometimes suck—-but being injured is the ultimate suck fest that exists.
I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had any big injuries (knock on wood). I’ve had some tendonitis, some aches and pains but overall I haven’t been truly injured and having to sit out for weeks or months on end. However, even the smallest twinge sends fear to my core. The thought immediately start. "What if I pulled something? What if I can’t run? What if I’m out of commission for WEEKS?!? Why didn’t I pull back? What could I have done differently?" It’s human nature to go over things and slightly freak out but we also need to learn how to reel it back. We can’t beat ourselves up over what we should/could have done but we should go over it (constructively) and learn from it. For me: I’ve been having a few twinges from strength training and have been able to massage it out and be fine. I had been smart to go down in weight and check my form. Then the other day as I was doing my upper body work I felt some pain, went down in weight, woke up the next morning to a nice upper back pain. UGHHHH I thought I did everything right and immediately went down the rabbit hole and beat myself up. But I had to stop myself and really look at it objectively. I did everything that I felt was right and tried to be smart and responsible. Small set backs can happen but it's what we do next that will define what our training looks like going forward.
I took a few deep breathes (well as much as I could, this muscle HURTS!) and told myself that I couldn’t change what happened but I could continue to be smart and not push myself.
I need to back off for now, I need to ice, take it easy, take rest days and not rush it. I don’t want to risk hurting myself or extending the time I have to take off. I need to make REST my training and continue to nourish my body. I’m not going to not eat because I’m not working out. I’m not going to skip carbs, I’m not going to skip snacks, and I’m not going to stress. I won’t lose my fitness and I won’t be any less than because I’m not running or strength training. My body still needs to be fueled to recover. How I approach an injury: I have a small pitty party—-I’m allowed to be pissed, sad and frustrated. I cry, pout and allow myself to get grumpy. But I’m working on letting myself let it go after that. It’s only going to make me feel worse to keep it going so I try to not dwell (not always stellar at it but I’m trying lol) I lightly stretch and try to move when I can. I try to find some positives like even though I can’t bend like I normally would I can squat with my rock hard glutes engaged and pick stuff up in a squat🤣(Shout out to ABF Daily workouts). I can still walk around and have help with my tiny tyrant so I’m not completely unable to do anything----it just takes longer. And the biggest silver lining is it’s SUCH a small injury in the grand scheme of things that I won’t be down long.
I also try not putting a grand timeline on how long I'll be down for. Personally I think that adds to the discouragement. I focus on mini check-ins----IE: Ok, I'll take 2 days off and check in with how I am feeling. Then after those 2 days see if I can maybe go for an extended walk, need more time or in a perfect world I'm all better!!! (Come on, we can try to kid ourselves.)
As always I encourage anyone who is injured to seek a medical professional if you need, there is no shame in going and them telling you that its minor and you just need rest. If anything it's probably the BEST answer that you can get. Don't be afraid to take extra rest days, do nothing and secretly enjoy some downtime. Read a book, watch a movie/show and TRY not to stress.
How do you handle injuries/setbacks? Anyone else currently having to take a break from working out/running? Let me know how you handle it! Also, I'll gladly accept any TV, movie or book recommendations :)