how to be injured

Hey, guess what?  I’m injured.  Did you know that?  Have I not been shouting it from the mountain tops for the past three-ish months?  I would love to say that it’s gotten better, but it clearly hasn’t.  Although many people have been great about this injury, at some point you don’t want to hear, “You’ll get better at some point” and instead you want to hear, “Oh, you’re joining me for a twenty mile run?  Awesome!”

But that’s not happening anytime soon, as my back still is not my friend.  I even made it cookies tonight and that still did not help.  In the meantime, I’ve had nagging pain for about three months and injury for about two and a half months.  My last speed workout was about nine weeks ago.  For the past three weeks, I’ve basically done nothing.  I stopped using the elliptical or pretending to take up swimming.  (A shame since I bought goggles…)  Can’t say I’ve gotten better.

However, in the past month or so, I’ve learned how to be injury.  Not how to get injured, but how to be injured.  It’s a little bit different than my normal way of life, and it’s took a bit to come around to.  I guess this might be how the rest of the world lives, but they probably don’t spend a lot of their extra free time (you know, from not doing ten mile runs…) looking up what marathons they could possibly do when their injuries heal.  So here is my current guide to how to be injured.

you start to eat less

I don’t know about you, but when I’m running 40+ miles per week, I eat a lot.  I don’t have a tendency to eat all in one sitting, but I eat a lot spread out over time.  You have to if you’re hitting 50 mile weeks!  However, when you go from full speed to nothing, you don’t need to eat that much.  Having been in training for one thing or another for about three years, it wasn’t natural for me to suddenly adjust my eating simply because I immediately stopped running.

Let’s just say that I definitely went through a few weeks where I felt like a whale.  I was even convinced I look like one.  I don’t own a scale and therefore don’t weigh myself…and I know I’m by no means overweight, but I felt huge.  I pay a little bit more attention to what I’m eating now because I’m not running at all.  I kind of hate it. 

But I finally naturally started to eat less.  I went out to dinner and couldn’t finish a meal I easily would have polished off beforehand.  Only managed 3/4 of a bagel instead of the whole thing…and still being hungry.  Physically full.  It’s weird.

you pay less attention to what time it is

I’ve never been much of a partier, but when you don’t have to worry about getting enough sleep before meeting someone for a long run the next day, eating pierogis at 2:30 in the morning because that’s what the birthday girl doesn’t phase you.  (Plus I’m in night shift funk and couldn’t fall asleep until 3:30 anyway…)  But I’ve been going out and having an extra beer or staying out a little later without thinking about how it might affect my workout the next day.  Maybe this is how the other half (tenth?) lives…

you don’t see your friends as much

This may seem somewhat counterintuitive…if you spend less time running, wouldn’t you have more time for your friends? Well, when most of your friends are runners, one of the best way to see them is to go for a run with them. Everyone’s busy, schedules are all over the place, but meeting someone for a few miles is a great way to catch up. Therefore, when you’re not running, you don’t see your friends as much. But that doesn’t meant I don’t miss you all…

some days, you’re totally okay with being injured

I was not a happy camper as a result of this back pain, which I don’t think should be hard for any runner to understand.  I wanted to run Boston and chase after some huge goals.  In the back of my mind, I thought I’d get better and be able to come back and run Boston, even if it wasn’t at goal pace.  While I wasn’t happy when I first got to Boston, I got better as time went on, and once the race was over, I felt much better about the injury.  Pressure (self-imposed, of course) was off.  This morning I definitely told people that I was okay with the injury and just want to get better.  Acceptance is nice.

and then you just want to throw rocks at people

Lauren called it “runner rage.”  Hours after I told Betsy that I had come to terms with being injured, I spotted a million tweets and facebook updates about people who ran awesome races this weekend.  I love you all, I really do…but it made me want to throw rocks at any runner I saw.  Which was a lot since it was really nice out.

I’m jealous of people who are running.  I’m jealous of people who can run, but are choosing not to.  I’m jealous of people who know what their injury is and therefore might have a timeline on when it will get better.  Because I don’t really know what’s wrong and therefore I have no idea when it will get better.

you back out of races

So far I’ve backed out of three races.  I’m supposed to do a relay in two weeks, but that clearly isn’t happening.  I’m hoping I can at least get back into running time to at least do the half marathon at the San Francisco Marathon, but if I’m not up and running within the next month, I’ll probably have to scratch that too.  And I really don’t want to.

It also makes it really hard to sign up for races since I have no idea when I’ll get better and be able to train again.  When races sell out months upon months in advance, I have no choice but to sign up and hope for the best.  I registered for the NYC Marathon, which was basically $240 (or something?) for the option to run.  Money doesn’t grow on trees, in case you were wondering.

Have you been injured?  What did you do in your non-running time?  Help a girl out..

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  1. says

    So injury…yeah. Don’t think you want to do what I did while injured…I had 4 kids 😛 Bahahahahhahaa! Because I went insane!!!!! Right now I am trying hard to not be injured and am doing the elliptical and stairmaster like a fiend. Have you tried yoga? Riding a bike…a real one, not a stationary one?

    See lots of really funny movies.

    Can you get an MRI? That is my mission this week…to set up an MRI appointment. I really hope you are feeling all better soon. Really. ALL better.

  2. says

    Being injured is the worst. No, wait. Being injured with a mystery injury is the worst. I hear you on that one. (I recently had an MRI, and when my doctor excitedly told me nothing was wrong, I was pissed.)

    I’m taking May off running and am currently deciding how to fill my time. I’m taking a long weekend trip to a warm location, for sure. I feel like I should pick up a new hobby, or at least read all of my unread magazines. Netflix and cookies are a couple of my standbys. And, if it doesn’t bother your back, long walks. I find walks are a mixed blessing because they make me realize how much longer it takes to get places when I’m not running, but they also get me outside and clear my head.

  3. says

    This just sucks, Susan. I don’t even know what to say anymore. It was nice of you to make cookies for your back. I totally get how your feeling on so many of these points, though I can’t imagine how frustrating it’s been to be out for so long without a real diagnosis or prediction for your running future. I know you’ll run again and I know you’ll come back stronger than ever. I obviously don’t know when that will be, but I know you and I know how tough you are. So keep enjoying the 3 AM pierogies and hanging in there.

  4. Wendy says

    I could have written this post. I’ve gone through all these emotions as my stress fracture heals. I go to my doc today, and I”ll probably get the boot off, but I’ll admit I have been walking around the house without the boot, pain free in the are of the fracture…and my plantar fasciitis has come roaring back. Not to mention the pain in my left big toe…Yes, my feet are a mess. It has been 6 weeks since I ran. I have started biking, and it helps, but it isn’t the same as running. I miss running. I miss the satisfaction of a hard run completed, an effortless run, any run. I miss my endorphins. I miss my running playlist! I have now set the goal of training for the North Face Endurance Challenge Half in September, but if I don’t get to start running soon, I’ll have to scratch that one! I’m scared to start running again, afraid of re-injuring my foot or aggravating my other injuries…I have a new pair of shoes just waiting to hit the road.

    Oh Susan, misery loves company! I hope both of us get back on the road soon! Thanks for this post, for making me feel that I’m the only one who is sidelined and hating it!

  5. says

    I fully concur with all of the above points, especially #1 and #3. And #5. Whale-status, feeling separated from friends/teammates, and wanting to steal other peoples shoes so they can’t run either. :( I wish you could fly to Minneapolis and we could just go have a week living the good life (well… minus running). I even have an extra road bike!! Tellin’ it to you as much as myself, but hang in there chica.

  6. says

    This all does just suck. Seeing all those tweets yesterday, just made me want to go race and it was kind of hard to read for someone who isn’t injured (but not training for anything), so I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you. I hope you get some clarity soon so at least you can get a plan together. I am sending healing thoughts your way…

  7. says

    I feel your pain. I have a stress fracture in my foot with a TBD date of running again, and all day yesterday I couldn’t get over how jealous I was of all the awesome racing everyone was doing. Every time I see great weather, I think I’;ll go for a run – and can’t. It straight up blows. But I know how you feel.

  8. says

    Mystery injuries are the worst. That is all there really is to say. I have been there. I have wasted lots and lots of money on fancy doctors and tests to try to figure things out to no avail. All it takes is one good person to figure out what is wrong. I went to about 15 different places before I found that person. It turned out to be really simple to fix..other people were just to dumb to know what was wrong. ps I stay up late so if you ever want to do anything in the late late hours, I am not your typical runner.

  9. says

    No words of wisdom but I sure can sympathize. I’ve been taken down by a stress fracture and can relate to what you wrote above 100%. I’m sure it is even worse when you can’t figure out what is wrong. Good luck — and I do hope you get an answer and are back to running soon.

  10. says

    Girl, I so feel you. I’m injured right now with a probable stress fracture. Thanks for this guide. It’s right on for me. Praying you get well very soon and find someone to tell you what’s going on!

  11. says

    Oh Susan, I WANT you to get better. This injury is annoying me NOW.

    When I had my stress fracture in the fall I remember I went to the movies like 4 times a week, just so I could zone out and not think about my injury.

  12. says

    Ugh. Injury totally blows. I hear you girl. Something that I did was hire a trainer and started putting my energy into strength training. I also did a lot of foam rolling, stretching, and riding the stationary bike. I have gained a lot of weight because I am a stress eater and there were some other things that added to those feelings at the time also. I really hope you get some answers soon!

  13. says

    I’m injured right now with IT Band Syndrome and am/have been going through everything you listed. The longer it lasts the more frustrated I get, especially because I’ve been doing everything imaginable to get rid of this.

    Some days I’m okay with not being able to run and accept it, but this weekend I was an angry injured runner. I was so jealous of my friends who ran the Run as One because I had to miss it :( I’m happy they had fun but I wanted to be there with them. I was a big baby about it and today I’m all moody too (so your timing on this post is great!). Hopefully we will both make it through!

  14. says

    it’s weird, I go through phases of being fine with injury, wanting to cause bodily harm to other runners and just feeling sorry for myself and sad. I think school and stuff helped keep me busy and just finding other stuff I liked to do (uhh, maybe shopping too much…). I’m glad you’re finding ways to have fun and enjoy yourself though! I think that’s really important. Keep hanging in there, my friend! We can do fun things soon, I hope :)

  15. says

    Ugh, I am so sorry. And I feel you 100%. Here’s hoping we both are back up and running ASAP! (I’ve been hoping for this for what seems like… forever.)

  16. Elly says

    Yep, being injured totally sucks. I remember when I broke (and dislocated!) my tailbone literally 2 weeks after feeling on top of the world after setting my half marathon PR, I fell into some kind of depression. The thing was, though, it hurt so much just to walk that I couldn’t even contemplate running for the first 6 weeks of the 3 months I was told to take off any kind of exercise (couldn’t even swim or do pilates or anything). Funny thing about eating – I remember my appetite dropped as well and I actually lost a bit of weight once I stopped running and needing to “fuel” all the time 😉
    Anyway, here’s hoping that you are back out for your 20mile runs very soon! :)

  17. says

    Again, so sorry Susan. The toughest thing about an injury that drags on (at least for me) is that, at some point, you get to the point where you feel like you’re at the end of your rope and can’t think of anything else you can do or could have done.

    Hmm, what did I do during my injury? Got into SoulCycle. That is literally what saved me. Blogging about it helped, too. As I told LB on her blog, one mental trick that helped was that I stopped looking for the “light at the end of the tunnel,” so to speak. Focusing on what I could be grateful for that day, even if it was the ability to rest, really helped me out.

    It does suck though. Let yourself feel that sometimes and then move on to a positive space. It’s hard. I know.

  18. says

    AACk I love how we both posted about the Space Shuttle!! And I really love how you went to space camp when you were a kid. You would have been an excellent astronaut. I agree, nurses would be perfect candidates.

    Glad you had a great visit with your dad. It is true that we sometimes get so interconnected with the interwebs that we forget to live life! I don’t spend a whole lot of time with twitter because sometimes it just takes over when I try to keep up with it haha. And then I had that annoying twitter virus this weekend that made me hate twitter for a couple days!

  19. says

    Ugh. I completely understand everything that you’re going through. I am trying really REALLY hard to accept that I can’t run and just move on, but when you have an injury that is supposedly “easily treatable” and should be better already, it’s frustrating as time goes by and I continue to struggle with pain. So instead of being mature, rational, and moving on, I tend to get all dramatic about how I will never ever run again. Clearly this is super helpful for the healing process. Oh – and the eating thing! I know I could probably lose a few pounds on a regular basis if I didn’t eat so much dessert, but when I’m running I just don’t really care. I eat when I’m hungry and to fuel my workouts, and I don’t really pay much attention to calories. It’s been a tough adjustment. My appetite didn’t subside for a few weeks either.

    Anyway, I’m really sorry that you’re struggling with this. I do hope you can find someone who will give you some answers. And more than that – I hope the pain starts to subside soon. Hang in there. Keeping my fingers crossed you’ll be back on the roads in time to run San Francisco.

  20. says

    No fun! Injuries are the worst… no way around it. I got injured last year training for Boston with 3 weeks to go. I was out (NO running) from April to mid June. It was my foot and it felt the same the entire time… it was such a slow process.

    My coach gave me great advise to stay in shape during the process and I was surprised how quickly it all came back (in time to run htc :)).

    He had me do 5 days as week of cardio for 45 minutes. I biked and aqua jogged (using Pfizinger’s aqua jogging workouts). This helped me not lose much of my aerobic base.

    The tricky part is you lose strength… so I started a pretty easy weight program (also Pzisinger’s) but my coach also gave me a killer stair walking workout (yes I said walking… it is deceptively hard). It’s 3 x 10 sets of stairs walking, skipping a stair. We walked our football stadium but I’d say about 7 flights or so of stairs. He had us jog 5 minutes between sets… I walked… but it’s GREAT workout.

    I doubted his advice and thought it would take forever to get back in shape, but followed the plan and was totally surprised.

    Hope they figure out what’s going on… A friend of mine had a slipped disc not fun…

  21. says

    I love this post! I’m so sorry that your back is still not cooperating, but in the meantime – you’re still living life, you’re still spending time with friends. That’s very important too. I think I’m going to continue my break from running for awhile longer, so we should get a beer at 2am to celebrate the freedom. Or something like that.


  22. Marci says

    Hi Susan- love your blog :)

    For a disc bulge- some home exercises will be your best friend and get you back feeling pain free- if you do them consistently. SOoner then later if you are religious about it.

    1. DO the COBRA (like you would do in yoga) but with arms above/overhead, not at your side- and hold 2 seconds when you press up with elbows straight. 3 sets of 30, 3x/day.
    2. Standing back arches. DO these anywhere- waiting for subway, at home- stand, put hands on hips, arch backwards a bit then back to neutral. UNLIMITED- all day/everyday.
    3. DO NOT bend forward. WHen you sit- sit at 120 degrees (lean backward), not 90 (upright). DO not sleep in fetal position with knees up. Legs should be straight.

    Even when you do not have pain- do this! BTW- I am a chiropractor :)

    This is a good start and will get the disc material off the nerve so it has space to heal.

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