I’m going to tell you straight up that this post is for me. You might find this helpful or amusing. And that would be neat. However, this is me trying to get my groove back by blogging it into existence. Here we go.
I’ve got the Injured Runner Blues. IRB. I bet it has the same symptoms as the Sick Swimmer Sadness or the Crippled CrossFitter Crazies. My body is used to moving in a certain way and it can’t get it’s fix so I feel like poopie-caca. Ironically, my body also wants to multiply it’s problems by eating crap food that it usually has no trouble avoiding when active.
I used to raise an eyebrow at IRB until I got it. I heard other runners complain about how not being able to run was the WORST, and I was like, “Shut up. So you have to REST. Don’t be so dramatic. Ugh.”
Now, here I am, crying “Woe Is Me”, missing the run, envying you (my running friends), and openly admitting that I’m choking my sorrows with brownies and stale birthday cake. Admitting I had IRB was difficult, because that meant it was a real thing and I had to deal with it.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
At some point, the grieving and the wallowing has to be over! I got my whining in, but now I’m just annoying myself. I have no races on the horizon, so this injury can’t take anything else from me…save my dignity, which may be buried under crumbs and frosting, but it is still salvageable. So, let’s get to it.
It’s time to reverse IRB! It’s mainly a mental battle, so the plan of attack is a lot about adjusting perspective and doing outward actions to create inward changes.
Reversing Injured Runner Blues
Attack Point 1: Fake it ‘Til You Make It!
Energy levels low? Just not into working out? Pretend you want to and do it. Get moving, remind your body what it feels like, and eventually you’re energy and attitude will match your actions.
I don’t have the normal energy and drive to “get after it” and no amount of motivational meme is going to get me there. So, as my dear husband suggested, I should just fake it. Yesterday’s WOD was mainly upper body, so I went and pushed myself through it, even though it was physically demoralizing and mentally I wasn’t invested. I barely eked out 4 rounds of “Mary”.
Results? I felt happier after doing it. It was a small accomplishment. Also, I strung together kipping handstand push ups for the first time and that made me feel good.
Attack Point 2: Make It About What You Love
You miss running and think “Nothing can ever replace running in my life!” Okay, drama queen, that shouldn’t stop you from doing OTHER things. Just make it about running somehow.
I KNOW I can row, ride my bike, swim, do yoga, and a myriad of other things! In my darkest moments, I reject them completely because they suck compared to running. (That’s not what I really think. That’s just the IRB talking.)
Last week I was skyping with Sue of Couple On The Run. As a former elite triathlete and lifelong marathon runner, she has dealt with her share of sidelining injuries. Her advice was to make everything about staying fit and ready to run again as soon as my ankle lets me. Don’t see biking or swimming as replacing running. See them as tools to stay in shape for running! A much more positive mindset!
Attack Point 3: Eat For Recovery & Energy
Bad food begets bad feelings, physically and emotionally, and can actually drain your energy. Eating right speeds recovery and keeps you physically and mentally optimistic.
Eating is tricky. There are two kinds of eaters among runners: those who run as best as they can so they can eat whatever they want, and those who eat whatever they need so they can run as best as they can.
I tend toward the latter. When I’m training for a race, I eat really well because I want my performance to get better. Unfortunately, I seem to eat worse when my activity level gets low, and this is further complicated by the IRB-induced emotional eating.
Fight the downward spiral! With an injury, I know I should be super extra vigilant about avoiding pro-inflammatory foods and give my body the nutrients it needs to rebuild. Also, if I focus on eating quality, whole foods, I’ll have great energy to help combat IRB. There’s also portion control for being in a less active state, but that’s a whole separate topic!
Attack Point 4: Know Who You Are
There’s more to life than being a runner, even if running has made you who you are today. Use this time to remember who you are outside of running (not the same as who you were before running) and put some time into developing other great qualities and talents. Exploring other areas of your life can open the doors to more sources of joy.Click To Tweet
I call myself a runner, I blog about it and I’m known for that in my little circles. However, I had no idea that being unable to run for 2 months would make me feel like I had lost a part of my identity. Whoa. Easy, girl. It’s not like I’ll never run again. (OMG what would I do if that were true?)
I love to run but I am more than a runner. In fact, when it comes to ability and talent, I’m a lot better at other things than I am at running. This has been a major time-out to reevaluate my priorities and find my identity first in God and then family and community. I’ve started playing piano again and am actually playing at church on Sunday mornings with the worship team.
Attack Point 5: Make It Known
Fight IRB by reaching out to others for support, encouragement, accountability, and…if necessary, forced fitness fun. You may think less of yourself because you can’t run, but you’ll realize other people don’t see it that way.
Once I acknowledged that I had IRB, I reached out to my Life Group (a church small group) and started talking about it, even at the gym where I’m supposed to be a coach and an example of relentless fitness! When something is really affecting your attitude and mood, you’re not going to be able to hide it anyway. It’s better to tell people why you’re down so they don’t misinterpret it as something else (being unfriendly, being a jerk).
When people you trust know how you’re feeling, they’ll find ways to help you. I had to deal with a lot of well-meaning but annoying suggestions (if I hear, “Did you know you can swim for exercise?” one more time I may drown someone), but in the end it was good to know that no one thought less of me because I couldn’t run right now. They also joined forces with me on Attack Points 2 & 4.
So that’s my plan. I hope it works. Remember, I wrote this for me so no getting mad at me if you have IRB and this doesn’t help you.