After Crooms 2009, my knees hurt so badly that I could barely walk down my apartment stairs to let out Maggie and James without gasping and clutching onto the stair rail for support.   It was miserable.


I had a serious case of Runner’s Knee.  After plaguing me for nearly a year, the swelling and irritation came to a head, and I was forced to take two months off of running (Here’s how I knew it was serious: Is this Pain Normal?). 


It was the first time in years that I had gone more than a week without a run.  (To learn more about my knee issues, check out The Knee Pain Post; The Knee Post I [First Diagnosis]; and The Knee Post II [Second Diagnosis]).


I went through a range of emotions when dealing with my injury, but over time, I’ve learned that an injury is NOT the end of the world – as long as you approach it with the right mindset.


Beyond my knees, I’ve suffered my fair share of athletic-related injuries, despite my best efforts to fuel properly and train safely (The General Injury Post).


As I wrote before, the key from bouncing back from an injury is 1) acceptance; 2) rest; 3)effective treatment and 4) a good attitude.   One of the more common questions that I receive on the blog is how to maintain a good attitude when you’re injured.  So I finally thought I’d write a post about it, considering that I’m kind of dealing with a minor injury now!


After the Spinx Marathon on October 30, I tweaked my IT Band/irritated my Runner’s Knee.  My right knee has been cranky, especially if I go past 4.5 miles (I haven’t run more than 5.0 miles since the race). 

Instead of getting upset over my limitations, I’ve settled into a nice routine of shorter runs + lots of hot yoga.  I’ve also been having tons of fun trying to achieve non-mileage goals.


I think it’s important for runners to also set non-mileage goals because – trust me – you can’t always be increasing mileage and speed.  Even if you’re not prone to injuries like me, life gets in the way of doing lots of distance or you could experience mental burnout. 


When it comes to setting non-mileage fitness goals, I think it’s important that the goal is somehow quantifiable (or, if its not tied to a specific number, you decide in advance how you’ll know you’ve achieved it).  I also think it’s a great idea to set non-mileage, non-fitness goals during injury, such as reading a new book each week or learning a foreign language. 


[My plank time from this morning! Finally got over an minute!]


Here is a list of non-mileage goals, some of which I’m currently working towards myself:


  • Train yourself to do a certain number of push-ups or sit-ups (like the Arm and Abs Challenge <—I’ve been sticking with it, have you? I’ve had to repeat a few weeks, though. It’s hard!)
  • Do a plank for a certain amount of time
  • Take a 30 Day Yoga / Zumba / Whatever-Floats-Your-Boat Challenge:  The key with long challenge like this is to build in room for error.  Instead of saying you’re going to go to yoga for 30 straight days, say you’ll do 25 yoga workouts over 30 days.
  • Learn how to do indoor rock climbing
  • Take dance lessons
  • Learn to do a headstand or crow’s pose
  • Become more flexible (for example, touch your toes or go into a split)
  • Increase arm strength to the point where you can do a chin-up (or two)
  • Regularly meditate
  • Learn how to swim
  • Start cycling for distance
  • Bench-press a new weight
  • Go for a walk every night before dinner
  • Last through an entire hot yoga class without having to take a break
  • Do all your housework to music and dance to the beat.
  • Stand up every 30 minutes and walk around your office.


(Of course, if you’re injured and that’s why you can’t run, make sure your doctor clears other activities first.)


What non-mileage fitness goals are your currently working towards?



  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) December 6, 2010, 9:04 am

    I like the idea of non-mileage goals. I am feeling guilty about not running much since my marathon so this post is very timely :)!

  • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston December 6, 2010, 9:06 am

    Congrats on the plank over a minute! I think this counts as a non-mileage goal: run/walk outside even when the weather is crappy!

  • Cristina December 6, 2010, 9:08 am

    I think the “acceptance” part of that is so important. I pulled a muscle a while back while training for my 1st marathon, but instead of immediately stopping activity I tried to run through it, resulting in having to take a month off running.

    I’m also trying to do 100 push-ups, but I will forget about it for a week and have to restart it :p

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin December 6, 2010, 9:10 am

    Great post! I love the idea of having goals that are outside of mileage so that you can focus on things your body CAN do at the time rather than pushing it to injure yourself further.

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman December 6, 2010, 9:11 am

    I feel for you. I’ve been dealing with terrible knee pain for 6 years! I can’t run, but at this point even walking hurts them. Get yourself into physical therapy so you can prevent getting this bad!

    Also, adding more biking to your routine (I don’t know if you still do that often…) can help! Good luck. 🙂

  • April @ Crazy Fabulous Life December 6, 2010, 9:16 am

    Indoor rock climbing, huh? That is one activity I’ve never considered! I bet that would be a fun blogger meetup activity 🙂

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) December 6, 2010, 9:16 am

    I LOVE this post. It is so important to people to realize that there will always be setbacks in fitness, but there are great alternatives and you should always look at it as a opportunity to do other things to improve fitness (like strength and flexibility). After having a tumor removed from my abdominal muscles, recovering from that surgery and then having a massive hernia at the surgical site, I am constantly having good days and bad days. So, I keep an open mind and just try to learn more about alternatives to hard exercise. I hope you are feeling well and have a great week Caitlin!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 6, 2010, 9:25 am

    Great post Caitlin! One of my non-mileage goals is to increase my lean muscle mass. It’s something I’ve been working towards for a while and I know it will benefit my long term health because strength training will also keep my bones strong as I get older. I hope your knee feels better soon! Have you tried any spinning classes for it? It’s a great low-impact way to get nice and sweaty without pounding your knees.

    • Caitlin December 6, 2010, 9:34 am

      I have spun before and really liked it! But I don’t belong to a gym so it’s now a no-go 🙁

  • Karen December 6, 2010, 9:25 am

    I started the C25K program back in the spring and had to stop because of my knee swelling and pain. Today, I am FINALLY going to see my doc about it. I hope the is the start of finding out what the problem is.

    When I found out about the 100 push up challenge, I was totally psyched. After looking into it, I decided to do the push ups, crunches and squats! (I’m hoping the squats will help strengthen my legs muscles thereby helping my knee pain!) I have been keeping up, but I too, have had to repeat stuff! It may take me longer than the prjected 6 weeks, but I am continuing to make slow progress and am confident I’ll do this!
    Yay! Go us!

  • Rachel @Balance and Blueberries December 6, 2010, 9:25 am

    Thanks for this post! And for publishing your plank time 🙂 I’ve been struggling and seem to have hit a wall with increasing mine. I think I need a better plan if I want to (comfortably) get above that pesky minute marker.

  • Ali @ Ali on the Run December 6, 2010, 9:26 am

    I love this post! I get so caught up in my mileage and running time, and this post is a nice reminder to take a step back and assess other fun outlets.

    I recently took my first hot yoga class and LOVED it, so I want to start doing that more. I also want to take a tap class before the year is over!

  • Michele @ Healthy Cultivations December 6, 2010, 9:27 am

    I focus on going to the gym four times per week to elliptical 45 minutes and do strength training two or three times per week.

    I also made a habit of going from the first to fourth floor by stairs at work once or twice per day.

    Cumulative effects.

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) December 6, 2010, 9:29 am

    This is a great post. Injuries happen and those of us who are active tend to have a difficult time emotionally getting through it. Congratulations on that plank time! You go girl! 🙂

  • grocery goddess jen December 6, 2010, 9:32 am

    Today was the second day in a row I started my morning with some sun salutations. That’s a habit I’d like to keep up, so I think some sort of yoga and meditation goal is going to be the next thing for me.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday December 6, 2010, 9:37 am

    In addition to bench press and new weight, I would add Squat a new weight.

    Squatting is more of a compound exercise than bench press, plus it’s a bit more useful in daily living.

  • Kayla December 6, 2010, 9:40 am

    I love this post! I graduated from college last year and swam in college the whole way through…except I broke my leg my junior year. The roughest few months of my life! Being able to accept your injury and having a good attitude about a crappy situation is the only way that got me through. Like you mentioned, small non-mileage goals (or yardage goals in my case) at a time will work you back up to where you were! You are a great inspiration, keep it up 🙂

  • Melissa @ TryingToHeal December 6, 2010, 9:48 am

    such a great ideas for injured runners! Definitely something I’m going to bookmark for when I’m injured, because I know I always am and am a stubborn runner!

  • Julia @ Brides Up North December 6, 2010, 9:51 am

    Great post – LOL at “and dance to the beat”

    Julia xxx

    ps. would love to feature your gorgeous real wedding pictures on the blog – particularly intrigued by the wedding hat!!? Let me know if interested by email xxx

    • Julia @ Brides Up North December 6, 2010, 10:14 am

      Hi Caitlin – thanks for email – for some reason my iphone wont let me reply! Gah. Do you have any pro pics you could send over would only need 10-15 and I can do editorial x

  • Corey @ the runner's cookie December 6, 2010, 9:51 am

    Awesome post – when I am injured or am taking a break from running because my body needs it, I like to focus on yoga and strength training, so on sunday I will write in my planner when I’m going to go to yoga or Body Pump, or do my 20-minute strength routine at the gym. If I don’t schedule it as if it’s a priority, I’m less likely to do it.

  • Emily December 6, 2010, 10:13 am

    I love the idea of non-mileage goals. Although I have really started to love running, its getting really cold up here in the Boston area and I need a new focus for the winter to keep me motivated. Knowing this, I have started taking a bi-weekly strength training class which I love! It is hard work but I find that it is something I can always push myself to get to even on my worst mornings 🙂

  • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life December 6, 2010, 10:25 am

    Non-fitness related goals, read more books and start cooking more new meals for the family! I also like trying at least one new food I haven’t tried or bought before each time I go grocery shopping. This forces us to try new vegetables, fruit and other items we never would have tried otherwise.

  • Camille December 6, 2010, 10:28 am

    I too was injured after my last marathon. Despite the supposed “6 week” recovery time for my IT band, it has been over 2 months. I have seen doctors several times and they all tell me the same thing, “Take is easy!”
    I have finally started going out on short runs ranging from .5-3 miles and after having so much time off, it feels great to be back on my feet. Much as I want to go out and run 15 miles, I know my body can’t handle it. In time I will be able to do distance again…
    Patience is key!

  • Joanna@ Drizzle of Sunshine December 6, 2010, 10:37 am

    Kudos for you for bouncing back from all of your injuries and making this encouraging post. As a new runner, I know that I’ll be encountering a couple of injuries and this reminds me not to just give up, but to work to heal and have a good attitude about it. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  • Jennifer December 6, 2010, 10:39 am

    Thanx for this post, Caitlin! I have been suffering from a shoulder injury since sometime in the summer and finally took 2 weeks off from my boxing and kickboxing classes to give myself some healing time. It has been VERY difficult to not do the exercises I crave. I have used the cycle, treadmill and elliptical at our gym instead, tho. I am going back to class tonite, but have no plan to do pushups, burpees or planks. I will see how I feel by Wednesday, when I plan to head back for another class. I know I should have taken it easy way sooner and I am paying now by having to take more time off. I think I will use some of your tips to keep me moving (& grooving) while I continue the slow and steady healing.

  • Orla December 6, 2010, 10:43 am

    I am so glad that I am not the only person who has had to repeat weeks in the 100 challenge. I think I have done the 2nd and 3rd week about 3 times now. I just forget about it. Saying that, it is really working and I have seen a huge improvement in my arms and shoulders! Which is enough to keep it going!
    Running any distance despite the weather is my non mileage goal. Just getting out there – so what if I get wet or its cold? I can shower when I get home and wrap up warm !
    Great post!

  • kate December 6, 2010, 10:46 am

    Its so great to mix up your routine even if you arent injuried. These are fantastic suggestions 🙂

  • Laura December 6, 2010, 10:55 am

    I am going to start taking taekwondo classes this month! I’ve already taken a free trial class and it was pretty fun. 🙂

  • Natalia - a side of simple December 6, 2010, 11:03 am

    Great tips, Caitlin, thanks for taking the time to share! One non-mileage goal I have is to appreciate the days I take off from working out and relax, rather than build it all up in my head as to a day that I’ve wasted. I have to remind myself that I haven’t set myself back, the body needs rest.

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow December 6, 2010, 11:25 am

    I am repeating WEEK 3 of push up challenge baby! I’m loving this one right now. Especially with the craziness of the holidays- I can still incorporate time for this and reach the goal by Christmas time!!!

  • Ashley December 6, 2010, 11:27 am

    These are great tips. I feel so frustrated lately because I haven’t had a chance to work out because of exams week. I know at the end of the week I’ll be running again but in the mean time this post gave me a more positive outlook.

  • Sara December 6, 2010, 11:27 am

    Great post! Even non-injured runners need to take time off sometimes. For the month of December my goal is to attend spin class twice each week. Its been a great break for my knees and hips!

  • Carla @ Will Run for Health December 6, 2010, 11:35 am

    I love this post! Perfect timing before the new year! I need to work on setting some non-mileage related goals. Since I started running a few years ago, my flexibility has really taken a hit. I think I would like to regain some of it and possibly start a yoga regimen this coming year!

  • Julie December 6, 2010, 11:37 am

    I’ve struggled with injuries all year and managed to eke out (aka, walk/crawl/etc) through three marathons in 2010. After my last one on 11/14, I have been on a bit of a break from training before I start vamping up for my next one starting January 1. =)

    So far, I really like not having the pressure of training. I am not sure if my injuries will fully subside, but it can’t hurt. In the interim, I’ve been doing interval training on other cardio machines (bike, elliptical, Jacob’s ladder) and am also doing the arms/abs challenge (on Week 3… I agree… tough!). I haven’t run more than 5.5. mi after my marathon and limit distance over a couple of miles to twice a week. I DO run laps or up to a mile on other days as a warm-up or part of my interval training, but that’s it.

    I realized far before now that running isn’t the end-all, be-all, when it comes to being in shape. I’ve said before how running has definitely made me gain weight and lose fitness in other arenas.

  • Nathalie December 6, 2010, 11:40 am

    I’ve set myself the goal to strength train on my non-running days and to also do yoga at least 3x a week.

    Just wondered if you had seen this

    • Caitlin December 6, 2010, 12:52 pm

      Hey! 🙂 There’s my picture 🙂 cool. Thanks for passing that along.

  • Julia December 6, 2010, 11:48 am

    This is a great reminder that there are so many different fitness goals we can set for ourselves.
    I love that you want to start indoor rock climbing. I’ve climbed sporadically since middle school, and my husband and I decided in Oct (after my marathon which burnt me out some) to join a rock climbing gym. It is so challenging and so much fun. We have started becoming stronger and better climbers. I enjoy having an entirely different workout than typical cardio or weights to do a couple times a week.

  • Amanda December 6, 2010, 11:48 am

    Caitlin, thank you so much for this post! My boyfriend is currently injured with runner’s knee too and he’s struggling to be positive while I’m still out running and doing the races we were planning on doing together. I’ll definitely forward this to him! 🙂

    • Caitlin December 6, 2010, 12:52 pm

      Aww tell your BF he will heal soon! I promise. He should read my knee pain post, too!

      • Amanda December 7, 2010, 6:34 pm

        Update! We’re both going to do the 100 push up challenge and do it together so we can work out together again! I think he’s already feeling a lot happier. Maybe thanks to you I’ll have super buff arms soon 😉

  • Sarah for Real December 6, 2010, 11:53 am

    My current goal is to improve my skiing enough to do a Black Diamond this winter! I only started skiing last spring so this is ambitious but I think I can do it and my husband is helping me every step (or “swoosh”) of the way.

  • Clare @ Fitting It All In December 6, 2010, 11:55 am

    I set myself a little Advent goal to read the scripture passage from the booklet at Church every night. I’m also trying to switch up my strength and ab routines so my body gets a better work out!

    Lastly, more “real” food during the day (even if its just an extra apple at work) is helping me avoid late night snacking!!

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun December 6, 2010, 12:01 pm

    All of my fitness goals are typically non-mileage. I’m much more into lifting. I do have a goal of running 5 miles straight sometime after the baby. I’ll work up to it, don’t worry, but its a goal.

  • Amber K December 6, 2010, 12:16 pm

    Great information for injuries! I feel very lucky that I have only been injured once since I started working out. And it wasn’t even from working out! lol

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence December 6, 2010, 12:20 pm

    I don’t run, so all of my goals are non-mileage! I have been trying to do more strength training!

  • Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) December 6, 2010, 12:24 pm

    Do more strength training is my goal! And I’m heading off to BodyPump right now! 🙂
    Thanks for the injury info! I’ve recently hurt my ankle, and I’ve been wondering if that’s actually an injury or not…but I think it is! Sadly, that means at least another week off from running for me 🙁

  • Amanda (Eating Up) December 6, 2010, 12:26 pm

    Haha I totally rocked out to Taylor Swift yesterday when I was cleaning the apartment.

  • Baking 'n' Books December 6, 2010, 12:34 pm

    To survive Xmas.

    😉 or 🙁

  • Beth @ 990 Square December 6, 2010, 12:37 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m a relatively new runner (about a year) and I’m dealing with some hip pain that might result in having to take a running break after the WDW Half in January.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 6, 2010, 12:39 pm

    Great post! I spend way too much effort focusing on running goals that I always neglect other fitness opportunities. My goal is to try out new classes at my gym! 😀

  • Ashley @ Ashley's Adventures in Alaska December 6, 2010, 12:43 pm

    This was the perfect post for today! While I’m not injured, I did just complete my second ever 5k with less than desireable results (I should have prepared for ungroomed snowy trails) and have been wondering what to focus on next. I think non-running goals mixed in with maintenance
    running is a great idea!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 6, 2010, 12:51 pm

    I have been working on push ups and stretching lately – those are both things I push to the back burner, but are very important!

  • nicole December 6, 2010, 12:54 pm

    So true that I can’t always increase your mileage like other super-runners. I also time myself with my iPhone! My plank has gotten up to 2 minutes now. Some of my current goals are to do other non-running cardio and weight training are least 3 times a week.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table December 6, 2010, 12:57 pm

    Great post – especially since it is 30 degrees today and I can’t stand running in the cold!

    I want to use my boxing gym membership more and force myself to do squats to build up leg strength for derby.

    Did you watch Regis and Kelly in the morning? Kelly is on crutches. She has a stress fracture in her hip due to over-training! Good reminder to listen to your body.

    • Caitlin December 6, 2010, 12:57 pm

      Aww poor Kelly!

  • Megan (Braise The Roof) December 6, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Those are really great ideas! I’m currently doing Insanity, so my goal is just to make it through the program! I’m 1/2 way done and having so much fun doing it. Another goal I’m working on is being more vigilant about flossing- I’m horrible about remembering!

  • Lauren December 6, 2010, 1:09 pm

    I’ve been doing a yoga challenge cause I’ve been going to yoga a lot lately. It’s a good way to still workout when I don’t feel like running in the 20 degree weather. I also want to try meditation.

  • Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon December 6, 2010, 1:26 pm

    I love your list of non-mileage goal ideas. I set a goal a few months ago to stand/move at my desk at work (instead of sitting) for at least a full hour each day. No matter how hard I work out before work, it doesn’t help much to sit at a desk for 8 hours afterwards 🙂

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss December 6, 2010, 2:02 pm

    I suffered from runner’s knee for nearly 6 months last winter. I had the hardest time accepting I was really hurt and just kept running on it. Hence the long recovery. Now it’s shin splints! Ugh, they never seem to end.

    I gotta say, *actually* resting’s the hardest part. I awlways give it a day or two, then test it out and it’s never fully recovered, of course..but I get so impatient!

  • Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing December 6, 2010, 2:08 pm

    I’ve done something to my calf muscle and per Physical Therapist’s orders am to create workouts that alternate the treadmill with elliptical and then back to treadmill slowly over time increasing the time on the treadmill. Wish I could get this thing to go away! 🙁 Didn’t realize how much I enjoyed running and hated the gym.

  • Ali December 6, 2010, 2:13 pm

    This post is very timely for me–even though I’m not injured, I’m dealing with a few feet of snow. It wouldn’t be safe for me to go for a run even if I wanted to. I like that a lot of what you suggested could be done indoors. Thanks 🙂

  • Ellen @FirednFabulous December 6, 2010, 2:16 pm

    I love these goals! Crow and headstands are so tough! I always get THISCLOSE to do it, and then I just spazz out and collapse. I like the idea of setting it as a goal…I need to do that so I’ll stick to it!

  • Johanna B December 6, 2010, 2:28 pm

    I love this post. Your non-running goals are awesome. I have a list like that too. Helps me remember why I’m doing all this “stuff” everyday.

  • Johanna B December 6, 2010, 2:30 pm

    I meant non-mileage goals. Where are my fingers just when I need them?

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) December 6, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Woo-hoo! Working on swimming. Love seeing that on there – swimming rules!

  • Valerie from Love and Running December 6, 2010, 4:59 pm

    I absolutely love this post! I am so set on increasing mileage and mentally I get burned out. I have bad issues with runners knees and plantar fasciitis, not something a runner ever wants. And It’s been hard since I am so obsessed with running, but I took on a yoga challenge for the month of december and it’s helped me a lot 🙂 I love all your non running goals. Keep up the great work 🙂

  • Lisa December 6, 2010, 5:37 pm

    This is a very timely post for me…I’m going through several injuries right now. I’m full of frustration and sadness. But in the end, I’ve used these set backs as opportunities to try other things…like strength training. My goal when I couldn’t run became toning my body through weights. I love it!

  • maria @ Chasing the Now December 6, 2010, 5:59 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this post. It was just what I needed. I’ve been injured (again) since September, and I’m having trouble finding out what is exactly wrong–which makes effective treatment impossible. It can be pretty depressing and irksome! I’m setting some new goals until after I get to feeling better.

    Another cool goal: Stairs! Set a goal for running flights of stairs–great cardio and not easy. Once you reach your flight goal you can try to beat your times.

  • ezzie December 6, 2010, 7:15 pm

    My achilles tendon was irritated due to improper stretching before dance, but my instructor told me to massage it and lay off of running for a little while and now it’s all better! 😀 It’s good to know that if you take care of your body, it will thank you 🙂

  • Emilie December 6, 2010, 8:26 pm

    I’ve been working on a non-mileage yoga goal. I track my progress through, a great new website that helps you set and track a variety of health and wellness goals. It’s actually a great tool for non-mileage goals. I recommend taking a look at it!

  • kelly December 6, 2010, 11:27 pm

    I’m on week 4 of the push ups challenge, but I’m doing knee push ups instead. It’s still hard for me though but it definitley builds confidence when you stick to something!

  • Emily December 6, 2010, 11:43 pm

    Such an inspiring post! Thank you for all the great non-mileage goal ideas! I recently fractured a rib and have been unable to do anything for the last 5 weeks…and believe me its been a whole mixture of emotions (good and bad…). I think you’re right though, having a positive attitude is one of the most important things! Thanks 🙂

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) December 7, 2010, 4:46 pm

    I’m starting the New Rules of Weightlifting for Women. It will give me non-running goals and in turn build up my muscle tone so I can get back to running. 🙂

  • Christina December 9, 2010, 1:57 pm

    I love your list of non-mileage goals. I think sometimes we focus so much on 1 activity that we lose sight of others that we enjoy just as much!

    Hope your knee gets better soon!

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