I don't know if there's anything I like talking about less than being injured from running, but for most of us, save for the few people who will never get injured somehow, an injury is bound to happen eventually. Most likely because, if you're like me, you're pushed a little bit too hard, a little bit too often, and it pushed you over the edge.
So now you find yourself in a place of, I can't run, I need to take some time off, or I've got to reduce my mileage and I can't get in the normal training volume that I'd like to be getting in while I'm rehabbing this injury. So today I want to go over how to stay sane when you're injured and can't run like you really want to.
I'm Jesse Funk, the founder of Solpri.com and the host of this show Runner's High, where we talk about everything running. So if you are an injured runner and you want to talk about injuries and you want to talk about running and you want to talk about all the things around running, subscribe, stick with me for more episodes every single week and I've got a year's worth of backlog you can go through as well.
So how do you stay sane when you can't run? It is a very tough challenge I think that many of us go through when we become injured. Number one, it knocks us out of our routine. It's like, this is what I do, this part of the day. Like, what do I do now?
And then we're missing those nights, like endorphins from running and just the positive physical benefits from running as well. So you go, "Oh, I'm missing all these things." Plus, this thing hurts, that sucks. And you kind of end up in this like possibly in this well to is like this death spiral like this has gone wrong and then this has gone wrong and then you just kind of swirl down into the toilet of despair.
And really it is to me in part about framing this is more difficult when I was in school and racing in high school or racing collegiately because there's a very definitive timeline on everything. You have seasons, you're getting older, you know, there's only so many championships you can go to.
But for most of us, and even if you are in that situation, it's about framing the situation and taking a little bit of a step back, looking at your life in a little bit larger scale, and then thinking about this injury not as a setback, but as an opportunity.
And there's several ways to think about this opportunity, the opportunity to, number one, get some rest. So often we only get rest during that off-season. Or for like me, when I was training competitively, I would rest 2 to 3 weeks later into my career, competitively 3 to 4 weeks. Like one time of year. Otherwise, it was basically 11 months of hard training, consistently barring any injuries.
So that injury is a sign that your body needs rest and it's an opportunity to recuperate. So in some ways you can say just this is where I am. Accept the present, be mindful of that situation, that like, no, I can't run aggravating yourself, that you can't run isn't going to improve the situation. So what do you do?
Make the most of what you've got when life gives you lemonade? Lemonade. So unless it gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you injuries, you make relaxation time. And part of that goes with seeing the opportunity to relax and what can you do in the meantime?
As a great example, this year I've been dealing with Achilles tendinosis. Finally, at this point and I'm recording this, I may be within 4 to 8 weeks of being back to building full mileage, but I've been on conservative mileage pretty much all year so that I can get through this. It's a degenerative thing. Tendons take forever to adapt, and for me in particular, it's taken a long time after I blew it up racing.
So what do we do with my schedule? I went from six days of workouts, which are four days of running down to five days of workouts. Three days of running. And Wednesday's been off. Well, what's the opportunity? I'm not working out that day. That's been a challenge for me because I kind of floundered and went, "What do I do in the morning now?" But my wife's been on maternity leave the last 12 weeks, and so I saw it as an opportunity for time to spend with her.
So we've been like going out on Wednesday mornings and having breakfast, you know, this very small window in time where she doesn't have to be up and working at 6 a.m. And I'm also not working or working out right at that kind of morning period where we can spend some time together that's not physically related, but you're spending your time and taking an opportunity you may not have otherwise.
Because when we prioritize running, we do give up other things. So the converse is true as well. When we are forced to give up running at least for a period of time, then we have the opportunity to do other things we may not have necessarily done before.
Now, depending on your situation and your injury, you may take it as an opportunity to do something else active. So we've really increased my strength training time this year, which is something that I needed to do for a long time anyway. We nixed one of my bike days and turn that into a strength day and are using that to kind of hopefully build a much stronger bedrock for me with more strength time than I was getting previously to bolster me against injuries as I age and continue to want to be competitive.
For you, maybe that's "hey, I always want to take up rock climbing" or "I wanted to take up cycling" or in my case, like I still swim, even though I'm not really racing triathlon anymore.
There is the opportunity to take up some of these other active things if they don't aggravate that particular injury that maybe you wouldn't do if you weren't running. And it's an exploration. So maybe you find out, "Hey, I like doing martial arts more than I like running." Great. You wouldn't have had that opportunity otherwise.
So seeing it as an opportunity that it is that you now have this time that you wouldn't have had otherwise is a great way to stay sane and avoid that kind of like despair spiral into the toilet where you just don't know what you want to do.
That all being said, I think it's important to also realize and recognize it's okay to still be upset or sad or depressed about your situation. I don't think it's necessarily good or productive to go. This is how I'm going to be forever. But recognizing that, "hey, it's okay to feel sad." On a personal note, one of the biggest injuries to me, even though like this year, the Achilles tendinosis has been the longest-lasting injury I think I've ever gone through.
In 2018, I think it was, when I was still racing triathlon, still grinding away, trying to get to that professional license. I was forced into a crash at a race that was going better than any race had ever gone before.
So I was on highs and then hit the low pretty quick, hit the ground at 25 miles an hour, which resulted in my collarbone shattering. I don't if I've shown this before, I think it's like huge scar here from the surgery that resulted after that crash. And that was a very forced time off where I had spent, I mean, thousands and thousands of hours over a decade, post-college based, almost a decade, trying to get this professional license is like why I was trying to do everything.
And that situation really led me to a dark place. I mean, in terms of the physicality I recover in a few months, I was back in the pool, back pool swimming. I was lopsided, arms wise, and I still race triathlon for a couple of more years. But I really lost a lot of my hunger to race because I put so much into it and it was shattered. A situation which was outside of my control, I should add.
There was nothing I could have done differently. Somebody came on the inside of me and forced me out. I hit gravel that didn't even look like it was on the road. So when something truly like external to you happens to you. That you didn't seem to cause. That can certainly put you in a really bad place. Like I said, I've been there and I think it's fair to acknowledge that you just maybe don't feel great at that time.
And that's okay. But it doesn't mean that you should necessarily just go this is how it will be forever. You look to, like I mentioned in the beginning of the video, what are my opportunities now? You know, when you're in pain, it's difficult to find a place where you feel okay, where you want to do something productive and be happy or joyful or content. And acknowledging that is great.
But at some point you find in yourself to go, What can I do now? Maybe I can start painting. Or like I do other things, like I play in the local symphony. So in the case of the collarbone, not going to be great since I play the violin, but it gives you opportunities to do other things and explore other sides of who you are.
One of the things I talk about with my guests on the Smart Athlete Podcast, the other show here on this channel, which you should watch, so subscribe that comes out every Friday. One of the things we talk about a lot of times is divorcing your identity from the activity that you do. We often say I'm a runner, but when you can't run, then what are you? And this is one of the crucial keys of long-term mental stability when it comes to running or whatever activity and dealing with injuries is knowing that you yourself are not the activity.
You run, but maybe you're not a runner because when you can't run, what are you? It's an exercise that we probably won't go into today because it's going to get a little long. But taking inventory of the qualities that you are that aren't really like are reliant solely on running, like I can say, I, I know that I persevere. I endure. That's one of the qualities, regardless of the activity that I know about myself.
And you become divorced from that situation where you go, even though I'm injured, I know that I am still whole. And that's, again, a key to long-term success in staying sane when you're injured, regardless of activity.
So that's my general guide on how to stay sane when you're injured. Do you have any questions for me? Comments? Do you want to share your story? Because sometimes we just need a voice to listen. Leave them down in the comments below, we're going to link to some of the conversations I've had with other runners on the Smart Athlete Podcast.
I would love for you to check those out because hearing other people's stories makes us, at least myself, feel not so alone, especially in our disparate, disconnected world as we are now. We're so connected on the internet, but now so disconnected as well. So check some of those out. And again, share your story down in the comments below if you'd like to. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.