A Runner not Running...
Just when things are going along as planned…..BOOM!!!!
On my long run last Saturday, at about 3 miles in, I felt a sudden stabbing pain in my left calf muscle. It took my breath away and I stopped to rub it out to see if that would help. It didn’t. For a fraction of a second, I thought about pulling out my phone to call for a ride home, but we all know I didn’t do that! I stretched it out, rubbed it out, and kept going. Over the next 10 miles, my calf muscle was sore and tender, but the pain wasn’t causing me to change my stride so I kept going.
Probably not the greatest idea, but hindsight is always 20/20.
When I got home from my run, i couldn’t climb the stairs without being in tremendous agony. While walking around town that afternoon, I couldn’t push off with my toes without a searing pain in my calf. I knew something had gone terribly wrong. So...I did what any normal person does, and I turned to Google. Turns out I had every sign and symptom of a calf strain/tear. Likely a mild level 1 strain. Just to be sure, I made an appointment to see my doctor. At my age, I can’t afford to mess up the healing process, right?!!?!
My doctor confirmed my suspicion and said I’d likely be not running for a couple of weeks. She didn’t give me an exact timeline, but did recommend physical therapy. So while I wait for the pros to tell me what to do to heal the injury and when I can go back to running, I’m doing all I can to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.
Here are a few tips for coping with a running injury....
Keep active in the running community. Even though I can’t run, I’m still participating in my two running groups, although I’m walking the miles instead of running them. I coach Girls on the Run twice a week, and I lead a running group at work once a week. Other things you can do to stay active in the running community are to volunteer at races, cheer on your friends at their races, ask about their training, and find other ways to spend time with the friends you usually run with.
See it as an opportunity. While running is my FAVORITE thing to do, not running allows me to focus on other activities that will be beneficial in the long run (pun intended). I’ve been back in the pool, as swimming is my weakest area in the triathlon. I’ve also made a plan to consistently lift weights and work on my core, as those are all weak areas as well. Working on these weaknesses is so good for me, and likely wouldn’t happen if I hadn’t been injured.
Stay active! While nothing satisfies my heart and soul like running, that doesn’t mean I can’t be doing something! Depending on your injury, there are SO many things we can do to keep our cardiovascular and muscular systems going strong. With my injury, swimming and walking seem like the best bet, as they are low impact and don’t involve stressing my calf muscle. Yoga, pilates, pool jogging are also great low impact activities. Being physically active will help keep feelings of sadness and anger at bay. Also, maintaining a workout schedule will make the return to running easier as you are used to being active every day. And I know I feel better knowing that I’m maintaining as much fitness as I can, even if it isn’t to the level I am used to.
Find other ways to relieve stress. Running is the absolute best stress reliever for me. As I run, I envision the worry and the stress of the day sliding off of me and leaving it on the road. The regular breathing, the rhythm of my feet pounding the pavement, my heart beating and my lungs expanding, the sights and sounds and fresh air….aahhhh. When I don’t run, that stress builds, my temper flares, and my heart aches. Whether I’m running or not, I find that the best way to deal with my stress is through mindfulness. This happens when I’m quiet, in nature, with room for my thoughts and emotions to work themselves out. I think about my senses-what do I smell? See? Hear? Taste? Feel? So I’m walking part of my favorite running route, keeping myself in the present, giving myself the time to work out all of the emotions I’ve been bottling up over the day, allowing myself to be a better wife, mama, and friend. Other stress relievers might be reading, creating, cooking, puzzles, taking a bubble bath, etc. I have found a few books on mindful running that I’m excited to dive into!
Expand your horizons! All of those things non-running you say “no” to because you're training for a race….now’s the time to do them! Go to the movies, take that ceramics class, visit museums, explore a new city, take a road trip, explore….So much to see and do-now’s the chance! If you can keep your heart, mind, body, and soul busy during this down time, it will make the return to running all that much sweeter!
Think positive! I know, it’s easier said than done, right? Surround yourself with positivity! Focus on the good! I’ve gained so much insight and inspiration from surrounding myself with positive people who encourage me and remind me of all of the good in my life. I have also learned so much from watching others move forward despite setbacks and injuries, and this gives me encouragement and reminds me that I’ll be back to it in no time!