Dear Injured Runner,
Or a letter to myself.
Dear Injured Runner,
I understand that you are “benched” right now, away from the sport or activity that you love. Perhaps you have sustained a mild injury, such as a contusion of the toe, or something more worrisome, such as a stress fracture. Perhaps you are just ill, a victim of the cold and flu season. I’m going to offer you some friendly, unsolicited advice. Please read it. Please read it again. Please read it aloud. Please take it to heart.
First, this is not the end of your life. You are still breathing, you are still here, you are still you. Your identity as a runner does not have to evaporate like sweat on a technical shirt just because you are going to have to miss running for a few weeks. Your identity as an athlete remains as well. After all, it’s your athleticism that got you in to this mess in the first place. You will heal, you will learn, you will return to the road/trail/treadmill and run again. And if, for some reason, you can’t run again, see sentence #1 of this paragraph.
Second, you may have signed up for a race and planned the entire next six months of your life around it. That’s great. But, sometimes life happens and the nagging pain in your leg becomes a splitting, someone-is-stabbing-me-with-a-dull-knife pain and you need to do something about it. That “something” might involve a visit to your doctor, physical therapy, medication, and rest. Yep, that’s right. I said it. The dirtiest four letter word for runners-REST. You might have to stop training for that “I made a blog about it” race. You might have to sit your well-toned behind down on the couch with a bag of frozen peas, pop your foot on a pillow and chill out. Maybe catch up on those TV shows that you stopped watching while you were busy running around in the snow for the past three months. And after you rest for a week, thinking that everything will be better, you might have to rest some more. I know you think more rest is going to be worse for your training, but you’re probably wrong. You could go out and push it now, when you know full well you are not better, but you’ll pay for it later. So sit your butt down, put your feet up and deal.
Third, you’re probably imagining that people are going to think less of you because you aren’t running. If they think less of you, then they have never trained for a single thing in their lives. They’ve never been hungry for anything. They’ve never walked a mile in your pronation-prevention stability Asics. And they are not worth your time. Please surround yourself with other runners who have experienced the ups and downs that come with this sport. Please reach out to them and connect with them and relish the support that this amazing community can provide.
Finally, my dear, dear Jessica, remember why you started this journey in the first place. Remember that your father loved you and would not have cared if you ran 2.6 miles in his honor, 26.2 miles or no miles at all. He would have just wanted you to be happy. You’ll get to the marathon. If it doesn’t happen on May 19th, which it still could, then it will happen another day.