The 5 Lessons of Injury.

Apr 25, 2019

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Breaking my foot 3 weeks before the London Marathon was not on my calendar of Things-To-Do! My doctors approved me to run the race as long as I was cautious and let pain be my guide.  I was lucky to be able to walk/run the entire race and experience that incredible marathon. However, I did come home to a more severe break in my 3rd metatarsal. That being said, the doctor said it was not displaced and would heal in 6 weeks IF I stayed in a boot and did not run. I totally understood the guidelines and wanted to heal 100%! So, I was NOT going to stray from my doctor’s orders.

But 6 weeks in a boot is pretty tough on a gal who loves to work out! But it did help me learn several lessons. I thought I would share these lessons with you because we all can learn from them and they pertain to many areas of our lives.

Lesson 1: IF NOT A, THEN B!

If I can’t RUN, then what can I do? The doctor said I could bike on my trainer, swim (without any fins), lift weights and do other exercise that does NOT cause pain to the foot.  Well, this is a LOT I can do! I feel like too many people choose to NOT exercise at all if they get injured.  But that is NOT a great plan for so many reasons. If you can find alternative exercises that won’t hurt your injury (and are doctor approved), then you MUST keep your body moving. I biked 3x/week, did yoga 2-3x/week (cautiously) and swam 1-2x/week. This enabled me to burn calories, get the endorphin rush I am used to from running and keep me SANE!

 Lesson 2: I CAN STOP RUNNING and NOT GAIN WEIGHT!

So many people tell me they are afraid to stop running in fear of weight gain. Guess what? You can’t gain weight from not running; you can only gain weight from eating too much. I did not gain weight during my 6 weeks off. I watched my nutrition and kept moving with other workouts. My body likely benefited greatly from the time off the pavement. The reality of running is that it is very hard on your joints, muscles and system! It is STRESS on the body and that can actually make weight loss difficult.  So, don’t be afraid to give your body time to rest. It will thank you!

Lesson 3: WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT?

As the weeks went by, I would be lying to say I did not miss running. I happen to live with 2 triathletes. Watching my husband and son go out for runs was truly tough on many days. But I knew that the only way to heal properly was to NOT do what most athletes do…. come back too early.  The time off gave me great appreciation for the sport of running. I was definitely falling into some traps about my pace, my marathon time, qualifying for Boston, PR’ing (personal record) my next 5k, etc. And I think I was losing a little JOY from the sport because of this type of pressure. The time away from running made me realize how amazing this sport is to me.  Not because I am fast or slow. But because running is a sport that anyone can do and makes you feel incredible.  And, the running community is like no other! You can meet a runner in any city and you feel instantly bonded when you find out you both run! It’s like a mutual respect and a feeling of comradery.  So, WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT to me now? Just running. Being back to running! Not my time or my pace. Don’t get me wrong, I still have running goals. But I have a whole new appreciation for just being able to run.

Lesson 4: PATIENCE!

Oh yes! I learned a lot of patience in the last 6 weeks. My doctor made it very clear that I could and could NOT do. He said I needed to stay in the boot and I needed to let pain be my guide. If you get injured and choose your own plan of treatment and don’t listen to your doctor…then I ask you this, WHY DID YOU GO TO THE DOCTOR? People who do this generally never heal fully and battle the injury for life. Every day I had to remind myself to have patience. Especially when the pain was gone! I felt like I was ready to try a run after 4 weeks. But I had to be patient and remember that my doctor had his reasons.

Lesson 5: EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!

No, I am not thrilled that I broke my foot, nor happy I had to walk/run the marathon I had trained so hard for. But I do know that EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON. Perhaps the reason for me was to take a step back and put it all in perspective. It’s easy to let marathon goals overwhelm us and take too great a priority in our lives. I feel like this injury grounded me. I am fortunate to have done an Ironman with no injury! I got to do Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon with no injury. This was truly my first injury as an athlete. I guess that makes me pretty lucky! I don’t look back and think “what if this had not happened”. I look forward and think “wow, I sure learned a lot from that injury. Can’t wait to see what is ahead for me in life”.

I encourage you all to take a look at your injury or obstacle that comes your way. See what you can learn from it.  See how it can humble you. And whatever you do…see how you can turn that lemon into same damn good lemonade!

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