“Surviving” the Recovery Period (aka When You Can’t Run)
There are plenty of posts out there on how to heal quickly from various running injuries (I have a page with posts on my injury experiences), but this post is about how to mentally adjust during an injury so you don’t go crazy during the recovery period. Runners go a little crazy when they can’t run: you might feel stressed that you can’t train for a race, you might worry that you’ll gain weight if you can’t run, you might worry that you’ll lose speed/ endurance, or you might simply feel crazy because you CAN’T RUN.
I’ve had my fair share of minor injuries that have sidelined me both during training and maintenance seasons, and I can relate to all those feelings (and have driven Mike insane with my calculations regarding when I could start running again)! But over the past year, I’ve gotten a lot more “zen” about being injured (practice makes perfect..), so here are some tips to make the recovery period more bearable.
1. Get off the couch!
One of my first instincts when I’m injured is to lie around on the couch when I get home because I CAN’T RUN and there’s NO OTHER ACTIVITY OUT THERE THAT I’D LIKE. Not true! For most running injuries, you can still do lots of other activities, like cycling, pool running, elliptical, yoga, etc. Maybe this could be a time where you could get more flexible, strengthen your body through weights, etc. Anything is better than sitting around, eating chips and feeling sorry for yourself. That takes me to #2.
2. Find a cross-training activity that you enjoy and invest in it
This is the #1 thing that has made not running more bearable for me! Find an alternate activity/ activities for maintaining fitness and getting those endorphins back. If you’re training for a race, pool running is a great option for maintaining running fitness (Janae has a great post on the pros and limitations of pool running for marathon training). Whatever your activity is, get attached and invest in it! If you’re pool running, get a waterproof case for your mp3 player/ phone and a new swimsuit. I bought a pair of cycling shorts to make my spin classes more enjoyable. Yes, you’ll be back to running soon, but if you treat your cross-training period as seriously as you do your running, you’ll enjoy it more and complain less about not being able to run.
3. Plan your workouts
I’m a planning fanatic, and one of the things that threw me off about not being able to run was no longer having a schedule of workouts laid out for me. So I found it helpful to plan each week of cross-training workouts during my injury, alternating hard and easy days the way I do with running. This makes me focus on my new plan instead of wondering how fast I can get back to my normal schedule. A sample week might look like:
Monday (easy): 45 min elliptical
Tuesday (hard): spin class
Wednesday (easy): yoga + weights
Thursday (hard): spin class
Saturday (long): spin class and pool running
Sunday: (easy): yoga
Remember to slowly integrate running back in, instead of going whole hog as soon as you get clearance to start running again. Not that I’ve ever done that…
4. Toss your running magazines/ stop reading running blogs
This might just be me, but reading tips about races/ training or about how someone else’s training is going is torture when I know I can’t run! Don’t add fuel to your pity party or be tempted to go out for a run sooner than your body is ready. Go read a book instead – and no, not Born to Run.
5. Change your diet if necessary
This will be a less than popular tip, but if you suddenly go from running 30+ miles a week to 0, chances are your calorie needs may drop as well. Consider decreasing carbs and increasing protein/ veggies/ fruits (which might aid your body’s recovery as well!) to avoid significant weight gain.
6. Enjoy your weekends!
The silver lining to being injured is that you get your weekends back, so I find it to be a great time to try new activities that I normally wouldn’t have time for, like Zumba, paddle-boarding, rock-climbing, cooking classes – the list is endless!
I’m still recovering from my hip injury and slowly integrating running back in, but to be honest, I haven’t struggled with not being able to run this time at all. I’ve enjoyed being able to spend more time at spin/ yoga/ lifting weights, and I love being able to do whatever I want on the weekends. I’ll be glad to be lacing up again (hopefully soon!), but I know I’m making fitness gains in other areas, which will only help me with my running.
Whew, I didn’t expect to write so much above – I’ll keep the weekend pics to mostly pics this time! Sushi from Fresh Market Friday night – sort of becoming a tradition here.
Enjoyed 4 miles with a friend on Saturday morning (slowly integrating a few short runs in), followed by spin class at the gym. This icy cold smoothie was just what I needed after!
Peruvian chicken for lunch – I’m never getting tired of those yucca fries.
Kitty felt the need to supervise as we ate.
Bourbon bash in DC! Made it to 4 of the 8 bars (1 ounce of bourbon at each, I just had a sip or two each time). Fun!
We decided we were done after 4 bars, and went to see How To Train Your Dragon 2 instead. Followed it up with ramen at Daikaya, which I’ve been wanting to try! Not as good as Toki, but still tasty! A perfect day.
Sunday was pancake day! I tried out a paleo pumpkin pancake recipe, which was breadier than I expected. I might tinker a little with the recipe and post my own variation soon. Didn’t stop me from devouring three pancakes…
Church, followed by food shopping at Harris Teeter – Mike always makes fun of me for getting “trendy” food items, but I love trying new stuff and have major FOMO about food. Anytime I read a blogger raving about a new food or a glowing review of a new restaurant, I want to try it.
Salad bar for lunch – so easy and healthy! Added goat cheese, egg and balsamic dressing when I got home.Lucy helping with Mike’s lunch:
And being rewarded :) Lucy has FOMO about tuna.
Hope you all had an awesome weekend and enjoyed the first few days of summer!
Any tips on surviving running injury/ recovery or thoughts on my tips?
Do you relate to my food FOMO?