No injury, no matter who you are or what you do, is easy to deal with. It poses different challenges for everyone, but one of the hardest is not being able to do what you love. There is no easy solution to coping with it, but here are 5 tips to make this difficult time slightly more manageable to navigate.
Focus on what you CAN do.
When finding out you are injured, it is very easy to focus on what you can’t do. You are usually told, you can’t run, you can’t weight bare, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t. Therefore your brain focuses on these things, which you probably love doing, and consequently drives your mood down. However, this isn’t very conducive to maintaining a positive outlook at a time when it is helpful to. I therefore switch my focus to what I CAN do. Initially, this may not be very much, but there is always something. Perhaps you can still do a little bit of core, or you can do some non-weight bearing yoga. If your injury allows, you may be able to get in the pool, whether that’s to swim or aqua jog, but be very cautious in the initial stages as you don’t want to hinder the recovery process. Focusing on these few things allows you to recognise that your injury hasn’t taken everything away from you, making you feel a bit more positive.
Allow yourself to wallow, then move on.
We should all be able to feel however we feel when we get injured. In fact, we need to allow ourselves to experience our true emotions in order to process what has happened. If we constantly force our true feelings out of the way, they will not disappear, just linger under the surface and erupt at some point. Therefore it you want to cry, cry, if you want to be grumpy, be grumpy, whatever way you want to feel, allow yourself to go through the emotions. However, know when to draw a line. We cannot hold on to the past forever, therefore we need to stop and look forward at the journey in a more positive light. Even if you do not feel ready to move on, encouraging yourself to do so allows you set a more positive tone. This will also encourage you to see there are brighter times ahead and all is not lost. In fact, this new path may lead you somewhere better than expected.
Learn from it.
Injury, in all shapes and forms, is a learning curve. I believe, everything happens for a reason, therefore, there is always something to take away from injury and improve upon. Instead of getting frustrated by it, I try to learn from it. I look at what I could have done differently and try to understand what might have caused it. I can then put new changes into motion, even before I can get back to training, so I am actively doing what I can to reduce my risk of getting injured again. There may not be something obvious that jumps out at you as the cause, so look for those multiple little factors that could all have played a small part and start learning from your mistakes.
Talk about it.
I personally find talking about what I am going through to be incredibly therapeutic. When I keep my thoughts in my head, it is very easy for my brain to catastrophise and run away with itself. Therefore, letting it out allows me to rationalise those thoughts, but also to just free some space in my brain. If you find it helpful to speak to your family, use them as sounding boards, but also don’t be shy about speaking to others. Sometimes family members don’t quite understand what you are going through, simply because they are not interested in sport, or running specifically. Find others who can understand how you feel and chat to them, as this will allow you to see all your thoughts are completely justified and remind you that you are not alone. There are plenty of people who have been through injuries. Almost every athlete has been injured at some point, so take comfort from their experiences.
Find joy in other things.
Whilst injury sucks in a lot of respects, it does also have an upside to it. This being, it gives you extra time to give to other aspects of your life. Injury (hopefully) doesn’t come around very often, so make the most of this spare time whilst you have it. You may have another hobby that you are not usually able to dedicate much time to, such as painting, reading, writing, or exploring. Perhaps there are some friends who you have not been able to see as much as you would have liked. Use this time to visit them or go out for meals with them. You don’t need to torture yourself by sitting in silence dwelling that you are not able to do your sport, it is ok to enjoy yourself at this time, because it won’t last forever!
If you are currently injured or returning to running after one, I hope these points help make your injury a little bit more manageable. Remember, this time will pass.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!