I didn’t run the Twin Cities Marathon this year. Mentally, it was so hard not to be at the starting line, yet I know it was the right decision. I ended up with peroneal tendonitis two weeks before the race and couldn’t walk without pain, let alone think about running 26.2 miles.
It was my first running injury and I guess I am lucky that I have been running for decades injury free. I know this now as I’ve spent the past six weeks talking with doctors, physical therapists, and other runners, and it turns out that almost every runner has an injury at some point.
And as frustrating as this injury has been(and how hard I was to live with for the few weeks immediately afterwards), I now actually see it as a blessing in disguise.
What I’m Glad I Had A Running Injury…
1. It made me realize the importance of cross-training. I’m a “one sport pony” and really only run. And run. And run some more. I’ve ignored the need to work on other muscle groups and give my running “parts” a rest by really focusing on a cross-training plan. I’ve rediscovered yoga, discovered Cross Fit and Pilates, and have enjoyed some bike rides with my family.
2. I’ve started stretching more. Before I was injured, I stretched because I felt I was suppose to – and I’m sure I never stretched what I was suppose to stretch. Now I’ve learned some amazing stretches for before and after my runs to really work on my body, to work on flexibility and mobility, and warming up before I run. After determining what probably caused this injury – overuse, my gait, some weakness on my left side – it’s given me the opportunity to focus on specific exercises that I can do to improve my running overall.
3. I found out that core strength is really the key to everything to be a better and healthier runner – and also knowing how to fire different muscles for running running distances. I’ve become more immersed in the science of running and this will help me continue to run for years and years to come. Before my injury all I did was run. Sure, I did a little bit of core work – some planks and light weights and ab work – but it was never regular or probably even working like it should. Now I’m taking time to work on my core almost every day with specific exercises to really focus on my running strength. I’ve incorporated strength training into my weekly training plans to increase my endurance, strength, speed and hopefully to keep me injury free. And I’ve fallen in love with Cross Fit and now do some great hip and glut strength work that I’ve learned at PT.
4. I’ve become social and realize that I need people, and that’s okay. I joined a gym for the first time in my life(I KNOW, RIGHT?), and after feeling really shy and silly and uncertain at first, I LOVE working out with other people! Everyone is so supportive and kind and really works together to keep everyone focused on their goals. Seriously, the love is crazy amazing. I have always been someone who runs alone and works out alone and now I’m actually considering joining a local running club. Also, I’ve been given the gift of a village – from fellow runners to my PT – I have a support network beyond my family. Don’t ever feel alone.
5. I’ve taken the time away from running to focus on other priorities. I made a last minute decision to go to Haiti for a week again(more on that later), which really gave me time to rest and focus on others. I’ve also spent more time finding recipes and cooking for my family, and honestly I’ve enjoyed taking a bit of a break from running to get my mojo back before I start training for Boston Marathon 2016.
Now I don’t recommend getting injured, but I’m six weeks out and pain free and feeling stronger, smarter and faster than ever. So, it’s totally not weird to say with certainty that I’m glad this happened.
What has your running injury experience been?