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.
- 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.”
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