The Upside of Injury

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Last week, Nicole and I were on a run, and I almost cried I was so happy!  It was wonderful to run (and rungossip <—new word) with Nicole again because I’ve been out of running commission for the past two months.  Before that, Nicole and I ran about a hundred training trains together since I moved to Charlotte.


Running with a friend is one of my favorite things to do, but I don’t think I realized how much I enjoyed running with Nicole until I couldn’t.  And just because of that one, tiny reason – I am glad I got injured.  I will never take runs with Nicole for granted again!


Being injured sucks.  Obviously, it’s not the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels that way when you’re passionate about exercise or training for a particular race and BAM! You’re injured.  No more action.


I’ve had my fair share of running-related injuries.  Unfortunately, running injuries are pretty common, even when you’re not overtraining, because the force is so hard on the body.


Fun facts:


  • A 150-pound runner, who has an average of 400 foot-strikes per foot per mile, would endure between 60 and 90 tons of force on each foot after running a mile.
  • If you trained between 40 and 80 miles per week, you would expose your body to approximately 16,000 to 32,000 impacts per leg per week, equivalent to about 2400 to 7200 tons of force.


But, of course, injuries happen in other sports and at the gym, too.  Injuries are kind of just a fact of life, even when you’re careful not to overtrain, eat well, sleep enough, stretch, foam roll, and ice.


I’ve written before about the Emotional Impact of Injuries and how to deal with negative emotions that may arise when you’re injured.  But I also wanted to share my thoughts about how being injured is NOT always a ‘bad thing.’


In fact, I feel like this running injury was a blessing in disguise:


  • This injury forced me to SLOW DOWN when my workload was picking up.


  • This injury reminded me that just because something works for someone else (lunges as a form of strength training) doesn’t mean it will work for me.  Lunges are not my friend.


  • This injury made me to re-discover cycling and swimming, and now I’m going to try to do another triathlon!


  • This injury got me off the ‘high mileage bandwagon.’ I really love to run high mileage, but it’s not the best thing for my body. 


  • This injury forced me to clean up my diet… Less Ben and Jerry’s (nooo!), less booze, more vegetables.  I gained a few pounds on my running hiatus, but in general, I feel healthier because I’ve been eating cleaner.


  • This injury made me appreciate being PAIN FREE.  It’s like having a cold… you don’t appreciate breathing until it’s difficult to do so.  Having this really painful injury made me appreciate being able to simple things.


  • This injury reminded me that I should feel blessed every time I go for a run.  Every step without pain, I should be grateful.  Life is way too short not to be grateful!


I asked readers if they thought getting injured was a blessing, and here’s what some of you said:


  • Tanya wrote, ”My first season of running I developed a nasty case of shin splints. Pretty minor as far as injuries go, but the break from running taught me that biking can be pretty fun too!”


  • Lizz wrote, “Being forced to take a break from running gave my feet time to get pretty again. I had forgotten how nice it is to not have mangled toenails!”


  • Maura wrote, “I sprained my ankle badly in January playing tennis, and was on crutches for a good 5-6 weeks. I learned huge lessons in fitness – the joys of spinning for instance, since I still can’t run comfortably. But the biggest lesson I learned was how we take our mobility for granted. Getting ready for work in the morning on crutches was the biggest challenge – it would take 10 minutes alone just to launch myself into the shower. I’d be sweating profusely by the time I got downstairs to hop into my ride for work – because of course I busted my right foot, and couldn’t drive. My independence and ability to take care of myself was completely gone, and I had to learn how to depend on the kindness of others. Sometimes we hate asking for help, but in this case I had no other choice, and I was overwhelmed by friends and family and how they came to the rescue. Case and point: I had a cup of coffee sitting on my desk every morning when I came to work, because my co-workers knew I couldn’t carry the dang thing on my own.”


  • Jennifer wrote, “More than anything though, coming back from an injury solidified just how important it is to take care of yourself after the exercise is complete. That means proper nutrition, stretching, icing, and foam rolling. Those components are equally as important as actually training for a race.”


  • Tess wrote, “After taking months off running to let my body heal, every run now is a gift and the fact I can run again without pain makes me appreciate every mile so much more than before. It also taught me to listen to my body’s warning signals and giving it the fuel and rest it needs.”



  • Amy learned that it’s not necessary to always push yourself.  She wrote, “Power to the walking breaks!  I alllllways take walk breaks, even during races. I follow 10:1 intervals and it works like a charm!”



  • Raina wrote, “Being injured literally saved my life.  Last July, I was deeply struggling with my eating disorder and had reached my lowest weight ever. My body was starting to shut down on me: I became anemic, my heart rate slowed, and I actually developed a lump on my thyroid (it turned out to be benign) due to all of the abuse. I had become so obsessed with exercising that I was doing at least 2.5 hours a day, sometimes more. After a year of this, my knees would give out on me when I walked. They became stiff and sometimes locked up and forced me to walk slower.  Eventually the pain grew to be so unbearable that I could barely complete just a lap around my block.  I know that God allowed me to experience this pain because it forced me to cut back on my exercise. It also forced me into the recovery that I was avoiding.  I cannot stress how important it is to never take our bodies for granted. We need to love them, and nurture them, and treat them with the utmost of respect. The damage I have done to my body is most likely irreversible. I will probably never be able to walk or run without some kind of pain ever again. It makes me cry but it was necessary in order for me to overcome my eating disorder.”


Want more?   Posts about Dealing with Workout Injuries / Illness:

Is this Pain Normal?

The General Injury Post

The Knee Post I (First Diagnosis) and The Knee Post II (Second Diagnosis)

The Knee Pain Post

Knee Sleeves vs. Knee Tape – A Review

Can I Run When I’m Sick?

The Emotional Side of Injuries



  • chloe @ 321delish June 3, 2011, 2:17 pm

    welcome back 🙂

  • Leanne (Bride to Mrs,) June 3, 2011, 2:19 pm

    I love when you spoke about being so happy to be running with Nicole again. That’s so heart warming <3

    Make sure to remind yourself of this because all too often, something big happens and you feel 'changed' but then a week goes by and you've slipped back into your old ways.

    🙂 congrats on running again!!

  • Gavi @ Gavi Gets Going! June 3, 2011, 2:20 pm

    I just wrote about the lessons I’ve learned from my stress fracture. Thanks for sharing this great post–it’s encouraging and enlightening for me, especially during my recovery process from an injury. Best of luck in your ongoing healing!

  • Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life June 3, 2011, 2:20 pm

    So glad you were able to run again! I love how you made something that most would view as so negative into a positive!

    I cant believe how many tons on weight we put on our bodies by just running one mile! I had never thought of that before, its pretty remarkable!!!

  • Leanne (Bride to Mrs,) June 3, 2011, 2:21 pm

    Congrats on running again 🙂

    I thought it was so sweet that you were so grateful to be back running with Nicole. It was a very heartwarming statement.

    Make sure to remind yourself of this feeling (being grateful for your body, being able to run, etc.) because all too often, something big happens in our lives and makes us ‘change’ how we act for a while… and then after a couple weeks we forget and slip back into our old ways.

  • courtney (pancakes and postcards) June 3, 2011, 2:24 pm

    Amen sister. Running really IS a gift and a blessing. Or whatever it is for you, be it biking or yoga or whatnot, being sidelined really does give you the gift of positive perspective.

  • Samantha Angela June 3, 2011, 2:30 pm

    The shitty thing about the “just because something works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for me” thing is that you had to get injured doing it to know that it’s not for you.

    …but I guess that’s all part of living and learning.

  • Johanna B June 3, 2011, 2:34 pm

    I’ve pretty much gotten over my ankle surgery of last year so my cardio is going well. And, no, I don’t take walking or riding for granted. I appreciate each and every time I’m able to do it without pain. This year I’ve developed a torn rotator cuff which is keeping me from liftin. Sigh. Oh well, I’ll do what I always do – build back up a little at a time. Thanks for the inspiration Caitlin.

  • Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet June 3, 2011, 2:36 pm

    Injuries really do teach you so much about yourself. I’ve grown through every injury, and I really do learn something new every time. Right now, my hips are feeling pain every time I step with my left foot, and I’m definitely not as worried about resting and lightening my mileage as I would have before.

  • Kerry June 3, 2011, 2:44 pm

    When I got injured, it was a wake-up call that I couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. If I wanted to get my personal training certification there was no way that I wanted to be injured!! The time off made me realize the importance of balance that I want to convey to my clients.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife June 3, 2011, 2:45 pm

    welcome back! And cool post, glad to hear there are upsides to major injuries!

  • Amy June 3, 2011, 2:55 pm

    Woot woot to the walking breaks! 🙂

    I just started training for my 11th half after a long hiatus from any distance over 5-6k.

    My first long run is tomorrow, and the walking break and I will resume our love affair!

  • RunEatRepeat June 3, 2011, 3:04 pm

    My running group exclusively does run/walk intervals. I think it’s great for preventing injuries and coming back from them too!

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg June 3, 2011, 3:08 pm

    I’m glad you got a good run in!

    Honestly reading the stats of how much running “hurts” your body makes my whole body hurt!

  • Lisa June 3, 2011, 3:18 pm

    I actually lost weight when I had to stop running for a few months. Injury turned out to be a good thing in the long run. I discovered a love of weight lifting, I got off the “must run faster/longer/more often/run races like everyone else” obsession. Running became more about FUN instead of something I HAD to do.

  • Sam June 3, 2011, 3:25 pm

    You look so cute smiling in that last picture! I hate that stretch though…there is something wrong with my hips! I’m actually going to go get them checked out SOON to hopefully avoid injury!

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul June 3, 2011, 3:36 pm

    yyayyy Caitlin, It’s so great to see that you found the positive things in this negative in the negative circumstance. We really should have gratitude for who we are and how we’re still whole and able to do things. 🙂

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans June 3, 2011, 3:49 pm

    I love that you are able to see the positive side of this. Taking a break whether its forced or not is good for the body and the mind in my opinion.

  • Jen @ Jen is Awesome June 3, 2011, 4:05 pm

    Congrats on no more pain! I started the C25K program as a newbie to running and tour my meniscus badly. My DR told me not to run so I have been walking and bike riding. Hopefully one day I can try running again!

  • becca (bellebottoms) June 3, 2011, 4:07 pm

    I try not to take my body for granted anymore…especially after breaking my back. When simple things like sitting up in bed aren’t an option, you begin to realize how important your body is! Now, I’m running/kickboxing, crow posing, etc my way through life, and am so thankful to be doing so!!

  • Baking 'n' Books June 3, 2011, 4:08 pm

    Is Charlotte a big city?

    Your positivity is radiant – where do you get that resolve from? And – did you ever say specifically what the injury is now?

    That last comment from Raina – heartbreaking…so glad she learned from it. To Raina (and anyone else) – have you ever read “HOMESICK” by Jenny Lauren (yes- niece of Ralph Lauren!!) – anyways, it’s about her disorder and how it affected her ability to exercise ever, etc.

    Also – the book “Hungry” by Crystal Renn – the plus-size model (well, she’s losing weight again now, but that’s for another story! hah) – and how she used to exercise all day long and now can only just go on walks.

    It’s all very sad and unbelievable at times. You learn the hard way sometimes I guess…

  • Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama June 3, 2011, 4:29 pm

    Great outlook CAitlin. I have been blessed with a relatively injury-free running life. KNOCK ON WOOD! I do have chronic pain in my bunions, and I see no upside to that. 🙁

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss June 3, 2011, 4:39 pm

    That’s amazing about the impact our feet take. I mean, I know they take a lot..but whoa! To see those numbers is amazing. Our bones rock. 🙂

  • Beth (Well I'll Be) June 3, 2011, 4:46 pm

    I was hating my run this morning but then I thought about people who were injured that would love to be in my shoes and able to run. It helped me get through and be thankful!

  • jen @ taste life June 3, 2011, 5:12 pm

    I know exactly what you mean about the not knowing what you had until it’s gone thing. Love that feeling of having it back, though!

  • Molly @ RDexposed June 3, 2011, 5:14 pm

    This post came at a great time! I just started running again after a 12 month knee injury. I am loving running more than ever!

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) June 3, 2011, 6:04 pm

    I am sorry that you had to be injured but everything from Lunges are not my friend (mine either!) to cleaning up your diet/less booze to appreciate being pain free and our health in general…yes, I totally concur and think those are the silver linings!

  • skinnyrunner June 3, 2011, 6:29 pm

    i love to read about other people loving running!
    sometimes its super easy to be all negative about running (i sucked, ran so slow, felt crappy, etc) and its good at times to hear when people fall back in love with it.

  • Mina June 3, 2011, 6:30 pm

    First of all, let me say that I am a HUGE fan of your blog! I love starting my day with a cup of coffee, breakfast, and a blog post of yours to read. I absolutely love your well-rounded posts, and you have a great voice that comes through your writing. You also always manage to write posts that are relevant, interesting, and accessible and I always end up learning something from your posts.

    I was wondering whether or not you have read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall? It is a fabulous book, sort of an ode to running. I have always been a runner, but this book just made me fall head over heels with running, as well as teaching how to improve my running technique in order to avoid injuries.

    I noticed that you land on your heels when you run, and this might be the reason for your injuries and nagging pains. I too, would heel strike when I run and I often had IT band problems, ankle soreness and pain, and even injured my right knee. Then I purchased a minimalist shoe and cleaned up my diet after reading this book and I have not had any running pains and my recovery time as drastically improved. I understand that making the switch to a minimalist shoe and a vegan diet sounds drastic, but I was relatively flat-footed and it still did wonders for me, and my arch as actually improved and my energy is so much better.

    All of this is due to reading “Born to Run,” but whether or not you are looking to make any changes, it is a truly beautiful book with amazing and inspirational life and running stories and would be a fantastic summer read!

    • Caitlin June 3, 2011, 7:39 pm

      Hi Mina!

      I am trying soooo hard to correct my heel strike. It’s so frustrating because I just do it naturally!

      I have heard great things about Born to Run – I think it sounds like a great read… maybe it will be my next book to read!

  • Jolene June 3, 2011, 7:04 pm

    Two months ago I kicked the wheel of a shopping cart with my pinky toe and the toe, knuckle, and half that side of my foot are still sore. Just today I was playing soccer with my son barefoot and kicked his heel instead of the ball and jammed my big toe. OH MY GRAVY! OUCH! So now two toes (and two sides) of the same foot hurt! I’m going to be checking into both swimming and cycling to give me a break.

  • Taylor June 3, 2011, 7:35 pm

    “It’s like having a cold… you don’t appreciate breathing until it’s difficult to do so. Having this really painful injury made me appreciate being able to simple things.”

    Ha, I have a terrible cold (since Sun night) and this is so true!! I just want to breathe again. Glad you learned some valuable lessons!

  • Holly (Faith, Food, Fitness) June 3, 2011, 7:50 pm

    My roommate was a volleyball player at our university until she was forced to quit this year. She got a knee injury during high school and continued to play on it. Freshman year she was sidelined quite a bit because she spent a lot of her time on crutches. Things seemed to be going well at first sophomore year, but she’d always end up pushing herself too far and be sidelined again. Eventually, she came to her senses and quit volleyball because she realized she still wanted to be able to walk when she was 50. She couldn’t keep playing on it and expect things to be peachy.

    Watching her get somewhat depressed over being forced to quit her passion really taught me a lot. Sometimes I take running for granted, but I realize that the mileage I do right now is much more than my roommate would even be able to attempt due to her injury. I know I’m incredibly lucky! She’s actually able to run a little bit now and can do a few miles at a time–at some point in her life she wants to work up to do a half or full marathon with me, but she’s realizing that she needs to take it easy now to make that happen.

    I’ve now learned not to ever push myself further when I feel an injury coming on. I’m thankful for that!

  • Aimoree June 3, 2011, 8:21 pm

    I am in no way a professional in this field, but I wonder if strength-training more would help make you less susceptible to injury? I know you’ve done some before, but I wonder what type of impact a regular weight lifting (with good form!!) schedule/program would do for you. Just a thought…

  • Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel June 3, 2011, 9:28 pm

    it was really neat reading what other people wrote…and even more amazing seeing how there was always a sliver lining underneath it all, and people use that as their motivation instead of letting their injuries hold them down 🙂

  • Jennifer@ knackfornutrition June 4, 2011, 12:25 am

    Thanks for the link! I read some of the earlier comments and I definitely think you would find ‘Born to Run’ interesting. I recently finished reading it and although it starts off a bit slow it really is a fascinating way to look at running as a sport.

  • Bec June 4, 2011, 10:58 am

    You really must read “Born to Run!” So good! I’ve been trying to correct my heel strike too, which is easy when I first start my run, but the more tired I get, the more I revert back to the heel strike. I’ve also started doing more trail running as my knees don’t like the pavement.

  • Emily June 5, 2011, 9:46 am

    I think injuries (and general setbacks) are sometimes a necessary part of anything you love. I am a runner and recently had some sort of foot injury that caused me to stop running for two weeks. Buuuut not being able to run really makes me realize I love running. So much in our lives we can’t totally control and any setback is really a learning experience for me because I tend to be a bit type-A : )
    I just started a blog, you should check it out!

  • Erin June 8, 2011, 12:03 pm

    Seeing Caitlin stretch really got me wanting to ask about this and see if anyone had any suggestions.. I’ve been working out recently and have this HORRIBLE, tight, almost cramping pain in my legs running from the back side of my ankle up to what feels on top of my shin to the bottom of my knee.. It’s so bad that I have to stop working out.. Anyone out there have any idea what it could be and some AMAZING Leg stretches for this?

  • tudou99 September 9, 2011, 6:09 pm

    Hello! Fine post! Please do tell us when we can see a follow up!

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