I’ve had a few running injuries. Most (basically all) have had to do with the soft tissue in my feet.
When I was little (1st/2nd grade) I had Achilles tendonitis so bad that I had to stop running/playing with the other kids at school and around my neighborhood for months. This was around the time I took up skating. Skating boots naturally “compressed” my feet and stabilized the inflamed tendons, allowing them to heal while I continued to be active.
When I started consistently running again (not until my first year of graduate school, age 23) I had a very short bout with Achilles tendonitis, which, fortunately, hasn’t flared since. I have had just about every other conceivable soft tissue issue with my feet, though (peroneal tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, strained lumbrical muscles, tweaks to my plantar plate…)
My first major running injury (peroneal tendonitis after the 2011 Broad Street Run) left me physically and emotionally crippled. I cried a lot. I was a huge pain to be around because all I could talk about was running, and how I was struggling to live without it, and when was I ever going to run again? WHEN?! I think it took me about a month to heal, and then I returned to running (and relative sanity).
Last summer, I got hit with plantar fasciitis HARD after trying an ill-advised pair of shoes that didn’t work for my feet. I was in agony for another month. My arches would cramp up constantly, including during the middle of the night while I was trying to sleep. I had to basically sit through seeing Beck in concert because it hurt even to do my lame girl dance moves. I was miserable, but kept it mostly on the down-low. Running injuries happen. They’re a part of running. If you want to be a runner, you’re going to have to learn how to be an injured runner, which means discovering how to find joy in other areas of life, besides running.
Running used to be my favorite thing in the world. Back then, I was dealing with chronic health issues that made it difficult to enjoy other things I typically really love (reading, writing, film, even music). A lot of people start running because they’re unhappy, sad, grief-stricken, or just plain sick. Running is an extremely positive coping skill, but, eventually, it has to become more than that. In order for running to really “cure” you, it has to be a pathway to becoming a complete person again. In short: running is the best medicine if and only when you don’t absolutely need it.
I feel like I’m finally at that place in my life. So when I get a running injury, it’s just not that big of a big deal to me. I’m still happy. I’m still positive. I resolve to use each physical obstacle to make myself stronger in the long run.
Basically, the difference between your first and second running injury should be like the difference between your first and second kid.
Now, whenever I get a running injury, I don’t mope around the house for weeks before calling a doctor, simply because I can’t handle admitting to myself that I’m injured. I call the doctor first thing and deal with the issue immediately. I diligently foam roll. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m genuinely happy to see my running friends train/race well even when I can’t. Whenever I can’t run I cross-train at twice the intensity. I’ve actually improved my fitness while injured.
Most importantly, I don’t harp on injury. I’m able to break the anxiety loop and focus on other things, like the book I’m writing, or books I’m reading, or shows I’m really excited about seeing.
I believe the mind and the body are more closely connected than any of us realize. If you’re just able to see that small setbacks aren’t going to make or break your entire life – if you’re just willing to surrender your stress and anxiety, then your body will heal so much more efficiently. I’ve seen (and felt) it happen.
I had a small setback last Thursday after several really great weeks of training. My left arch cramped about 4 miles into a run. I stopped and it felt fine, so I went about my day running errands and visiting family. Later that evening my heel started to really hurt. Because of yet another snowstorm, I had to wait until Monday to see my sports chiro. I love my sports chiro team. They’re so friendly and attentive and they truly work miracles with the Active Release Technique. I have a mildly inflamed plantar fascia, but it’s already starting to feel so much better after some ART and lots of battery with the foam roller. Today is the first in five days I woke up without pain.
I also really love my Foot Rubz ball. They’re about 5-10 bucks and you can find them in most sports stores. They’re really great for working out the tension and scar tissue in your feet and calves.
I’ve been given the okay to run again after 5 days of cross-training. I truly believe that being relaxed and stress-free while taking immediate action will nip this injury in the bud before it becomes a serious/chronic issue.
It’s supposed to be in the 60s tomorrow! I can’t wait to go for a run.
Questions for the Internets:
How do you deal with running injuries?
Have you ever tried Active Release Therapy?
Do you foam roll? How often?
What’s your favorite hobby/activity besides running?