In October, I began to feel a twinge of pain when I was running. Yes, I had just run three half marathons in twenty two days, but I am invincible right? I was wrong, way wrong. After ignoring the problem and racing in a 5k anyway, I concluded I needed to get to a doctor before I was totally unable to walk. Diagnosis: Probable stress fracture in my third metatarsal. I was also put into a walking boot for at least three weeks. Keep in mind I had already been staying off my foot (no running) on my own doing for two weeks. In the end, I ended up not being able to run for nine weeks total, right in the middle of racing season. I felt an array of emotions and handled them a little bit differently every day. I want to share how I felt, and how I overcame to be stronger than ever.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. At the time, I had no idea why I was having my beloved running taken away from me, but I hoped one day I would have my answer. Luckily for me, I have already figured it out, but let’s back up. After my doctor’s visit, I hobbled back to my car in my heavy walking boot…and cried. So many fears began to creep up into my mind. What if I gain weight? What if I get so slow I have to start over again? What if I have to miss a bunch of races? What if I have a nervous breakdown and ruin every relationship I have, including flinging my small dogs through a wall in anger? So I did the thing rational, normal people do after a situation like this arises….I pouted. Oh yes, I threw a monster sized pity party for myself for several days.
I didn’t move from the couch, I was fussy with everyone, and I watched a lot of trashy TV. Then, ten days later, something happened that would change my world. The new YMCA opened up in my neighborhood, just down the street from my house. On the opening day, I tentatively walked inside, and tried not to burst into tears as I stared at people running on the treadmills. I toured the facility, looking at all the beautiful, shiny new equipment. Then I did something I had rarely done before. I sat down at a machine, and started lifting weights. I lifted five days a week, and after being cleared by my doctor, added in the stationary bike five days a week.
After a couple weeks of this, my attitude changed. I wasn’t gaining weight, I was getting stronger, and I was in a much better mood. Once I was cleared to run, I had to start very slowly. I kept up my strength training and cross training, even adding yoga into the mix twice a week. I slowly ramped up my running, and while I am still not where I was before my injury, I felt all around stronger. I can now see the muscles in my arms and am getting more flexible. I am better-rounded and appreciate other forms of exercise besides running.
I firmly believe my injury was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone if I still wanted a workout while injured. I don’t think I ever would have hit the weights so hard, or started yoga if I had stayed healthy. It was excruciatingly hard to get over my woe is me attitude, but I am so glad I did.
So, here is my advice.
- If you are injured and can’t participate in your favorite form of fitness, whatever it may be, first know that you are not alone. I have gotten encouragement from others that have helped me along the way.
- Second, go ahead and have a pity party. Get it out of your system, and then don’t do it again.
- With permission from your doctor, try a new form of exercise. You never know, you may find a new favorite!
- Focus on getting better and trust in the healing process. Try to think of your rest period as an active thing. You aren’t doing “nothing” you are actively getting better.
- Take your time off to do other things you never have time to do. Cook new recipes, catch up on your favorite TV shows, or meet a friend for coffee. It could be the break you need to reconnect with people or other activities in your life.
Remember, an injury is not a death sentence, just a small bump in the road on your fitness journey. As much as I hate to admit it, I learn more about myself during the hard times. Only you can change your attitude, so what will yours be?
-Have you ever been injured? How did you deal with the emotions that came with it?
-When you were injured, did you pick up a new form of exercise you now love?
Heather Montgomery blogs at runningwithsass.com about running and healthy living with a touch of sass. She lives in Biloxi, Mississippi where she works as a travel agent booking mainly Disney vacations, and as a sales representative for runningskirts.com. Heather loves working out and running with her husband, and cuddling with her two toy poodles. You can also find Heather on twitter @runningwithsass.