For an injured runner, the HARDEST part of recovery is all mental. Okay, yes, there will be the cross-training, the physical therapy, any necessary strengthening exercises, stretches, icing, massage, etc…that stuff is never easy but the TORTURE is all mental.
Strip the miles from a runner and they feel naked. Half of themselves. A shell. The mentality a runner takes and holds throughout their recovery will either make them stronger or cripple them.
Running is wrought with highs and lows, injuries are unavoidable, as are the lows. Retaining sanity entails keeping the right perspective during the lows and the crappy injuries…because an injury never comes at a ‘good’ time.
I just wrote an article for Competitor.com: “The Mental Side of Recovery”. Do read it but what I’ve said time and time again is that a positive outlook allows an injured runner to 1) be proactive in their recovery 2) gather the strength to keep moving forward 3) makes them even tougher when they do get back to running.
* Staying Productive: Hey, cross-training does suck; but it’s the medicine we suck down. It feels overwhelming imagining yourself ellipticalling away for months, so DON’T. Think of making it through this single workout and that’s it. Deal with this moment before you tackle the next.
* Money in the Bank: Doing that cross-training makes a world of difference when you get back to regular training. You can bust out some dang hard workouts on a cross-trainer; remember EFFORT is what counts.
* Appreciation: These injuries should give you a renewed appreciation for healthy running. When you eventually DO get back to regular training, when you catch yourself feeling ‘greedy’ take a moment to remember that your running is NEVER a given. Also remember on the days you’re thinking about wimping out on those 400’s, remember the hours spent on the elliptical where you thought, “Gosh, I can’t WAIT for the day I can tear it up on the track!” Then…follow through on that.
* The Key to Staying Positive: Faking it. Laughing. Laughing at yourself. Making light of the current suckiness of the situation. Do it. Because it does suck, but turn the suckiness into an ironic, sarcastic, snarky joke rather than let it build into a depressive black hole that sucks you in.
* Runner Mentality: It’s always easy to keep working hard when things are going right. Injuries and the tough stuff is what tests us; an injury is one of the greatest MENTAL tests of a runner.
Will you let it break you? Don’t, because it’s an opportunity to PROVE how much of a runner you are, you’ll get back to your miles. You will again feel like ‘yourself’…even better, instead of a shell you’ll be all that much stronger than the pervious you.
There are more tips in the Competitor article.
Need to laugh at suckiness? Here are some opportunities.
It’s not all just laughs and giggles, but finding motivation from others helps too. HERE are some motivational posts to revisit.
1) What’s the worst and longest injury you’ve ever had?
2) How did going through that injury make you stronger?
Appreciation for running…hands down.