I am so excited to feature Kara as my next guest poster! Kara is part of our awesome Ragnar Relay team (woo woo!) and has become a real-life friend in the past few weeks since we’ve successfully met up a few times before races and even for lunch in Madison Square Park. She has some great tips for you, so check them out and make sure to stop by her blog — she has a wonderful writing style and will make you laugh. Seriously.
Hi all! I’m Kara from KaraRuns.com and the lovely Lora has asked me to guest post today. How exciting to meet so many new runners! My topic of choice is something I know a lot of runners have struggled with — myself included. Dreaded INJURY.
I never even considered injury as a possibility before I was plagued with one. I began running track and cross country in junior high and aside from your regular ol’ shin splints, I never struggled with prolonged injury….even with our high school speed workouts, tempo runs, and 5x per week practices, I felt great. We strength trained about 2-3x a week and kept our muscles strong, however my longest runs were only about 6 miles since our races were 5Ks. When I began running longer distances a few years ago, I was totally content with just running at a slow pace – I purposefully made myself run as slow as possible because I was terrified of not finishing! I plodded along that way, happy and slow, while training for my first two half-marathons and first full marathon.
I’m not someone who likes to stay in one place too long, and eventually I needed more of a challenge. I wanted to be FAST! I wanted to beat my previous times. Naturally I used Google to it’s full capacity and stumbled upon all sorts of training plans and pacing calculators and message boards and blogs. Not only did these things inspire me, but I learned a lot more about running for time AND distance. So I jumped right into it. My “faster race” of choice? The New York City Marathon.
So I trained and trained, lifted a little (read: not enough), and trained some more. Somewhere during a too-fast 18 mile run with friends, I felt a twinge in my knee. But, otherwise I was feeling strong and tough and my heart wanted more running. (Always more running, it says!) I kept running. NYC was my dream race. I attempted a 20-miler the next week.
You see where this is going right?
I ended up running a marathon injured. BAD, BAD idea, people. That question, “do you want to run now, or run forever?” was not in my mind, but it should have been. I sidelined myself single-handedly for almost 5 months. So, where is this going, you’re asking? I’m sure you don’t want to hear me complain about injury for 4 more paragraphs!
Let’s face it, injury sucks. It takes seemingly forever to get over. No matter how many times you tell yourself to be positive, some days it just feels horrible. But, let’s try and look on the bright side here; how DO you stay positive while injured?
- Find a new cross-training activity to participate in while you’re rehabbing. Can you cycle? Swim? Strength train? Learn the high bars? Go to a bar? (Just kidding on the last one…maybe…)
- Find a physical therapist who understands your goals and has a comprehensive plan to get you back to where you want to be. Not someone who forgets to keep records on you and doesn’t remember you when you go back. (TRUE STORY: this happened to me.)
- Go to a comedy club. Laugh a lot. You’ll forget about it for like, 30 minutes. Promise.
- LEARN. I’m actually thankful for my injury for a few reasons (I know, WHAT!?). One is that I learned a lot about running and proper training by researching like crazy. I learned what I did wrong and how to prevent injury in the future. I’ve read a TON of great books on running now – another thing that preoccupied me while injured. If you can’t do it, read about it…?
- Punch anyone who says “I told you you’d get injured, running is bad for you”. *Side note: I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE SAY THIS. So false. I’ve never punched anyone but I imagine it feels good. Don’t come back to me if you end up in jail, though.
- Commiserate with other injured comrades. Talk to people who have been injured and came back from it. It’s so uplifting and encouraging to realize that you WILL get over this eventually.
- Spend time with friends and family. You know those friends who are always saying “Spend time with me! You’re always running on Saturday mornings but I want to go out Friday night and get breakfast on Saturday morning!” Go hang out with them. Again, laugh a lot . It’s fun. Friends are like chicken soup for the heart. (That’s a saying, right?)
- Dare I say it? ENJOY REST! Resting usually lifts your spirits a bit. Let yourself relax. It’s okay sometimes! Your body is telling you it needs it.
- Volunteer. Nothing is more uplifting than contributing to society and helping the less-fortunate.
- Read “The Newbie Chronicles” from Runner’s World columnist Marc Parent. Hilarious and relatable. He discusses injury in quite a few articles.
- Sign up for a future race – any race. Obviously it needs to be an event down the road for when you are fully healed (even a swimming or cycling event!). When I had a race to work toward specifically, it definitely helped me stay motivated. Even if it’s a 5K and you need to run-walk it, it’s nice to have something to look forward to, and to get out there for a comeback. (Just don’t push yourself to run that day if you can’t. Make sure it’s either refundable or inexpensive.)
- Remember…you WILL get better. You’ll won’t be injured forever. Remind yourself that. I never believed it when I was injured, but trust me you will.
So, I did these things (minus the punching thing) and took my time to heal the myriad of injuries I caused myself by continuing to run injured, and I’m finally getting back on track. I PRd in my comeback half-marathon in May and have been taking extra time to strength train, which I’ve found to be one of the most important things in preventing injury and overtraining. If you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to stop on over at my blog, KaraRuns.com.
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