“As a runner how do I deal with injury and the frustration of not being able to participate in the sport that is so much a part of my everyday life?”
Most likely at some point in our running careers each of us will be faced with a running injury and possibly be asking ourselves the same question. Whether it be a major or minor injury, if it affects our running routine it can be frustrating. Why is this when most of the world would be delighted to have an excuse not to run? Runners are a different breed.
Over time, running becomes not only what we do, but it is how we identify ourselves. Running can become so much a part of who we are that when this aspect of our lives is taken away from us we are left feeling lost (I know, I know—pathetic, but true). Our focus, our drive, and our motivation become fuzzy. Now we all know it is not the end of the world to take a break from running (we do have lives outside of running…don’t we?), but when we are the one on the “injured list” life can seem kind of bleak.
I started running in junior high and I continued to run all through high school. After high school I competed for four years on the track and cross country team at Weber State University. Interestingly enough, throughout my junior high, high school, and college career I can’t remember having an injury that ever took me out for more than a week or two. It wasn’t until after giving birth to our first child in 2009 that I dealt with my first major injury. I had started running again, but I soon developed some lower back problems that halted my running pursuits for several months.
It wasn’t until the beginning of 2010 that I was feeling pain free and at a point where I could start building up my mileage again. After only a couple of months of training, I was encouraged by how good I was feeling.
So, in April 2010 I decided to run the Salt Lake Half Marathon just to see where I was at. I hadn’t raced in a long time and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I surprised myself when I finished in third place (out of the women) and ran my best half marathon time of 1:21:50. I was still a long way off from where I wanted to be, but it gave me confidence and I began considering pursuing one of my “big” running goals again—qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials. My plan was to continue training hard through the summer of 2010 and then look to run a fast marathon in the fall.
Things seemed to be falling into place when I found out the Salt Lake Half Marathon time qualified me to participate in the Chicago Marathon (a great fall marathon to run a fast time) under the elite development program. I set out training with my new goal in mind, but about a month after the Salt Lake Half, I started having problems with my right foot. At first I tried to run through it, but eventually I realized I needed to take time off or it was never going to heal. Any training at this point was just counterproductive. Well, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and I ended up taking 5 months off from running. It was a very frustrating time in my running career, but I did learn a lot from the experience.