Top tips for staying positive during a setback and coming back stronger.
Picture this scenario: You’re at the top of your running game. Training is going well, and you’re set to blow your goal race out of the water. Several age-group wins have you flying high. Everything is falling into place until you feel a slight twinge in your hamstring during a long run. Even after a few days of rest, it’s still bothering you. You visit the doctor only to find out that the injury is a bit more serious and will be sidelining you for a few weeks, causing you to miss your goal race.
Injuries can be just as difficult mentally as they are physically. Without their favorite activity, many runners can feel depressed and lost. The good news: an injury doesn’t have to mean weeks of sitting on the couch watching TV reruns. In fact, the time away from running can be extremely productive. Use the following tips to stay positive during an injury and make progress with your fitness level despite being off the pavement.
Refocus Your Energy
One of the hardest aspects of dealing with an injury is the lack of an outlet for releasing energy. Rather than letting that pent up energy brood inside of you and being an unbearable force around family and friends, refocus it towards new projects. It could be work around the house that you’ve been meaning to do, a new skill like yoga that you’ve always wanted to learn, or just spending more time with your family doing various activities. The key is not to sit idly while the injury heals.
Set A Progress Schedule
Although it may be a few weeks or maybe months before you’re able to resume normal activity, notice the small improvements that you make over the course of a few days. Rather than paying attention solely to the end goal, stay positive by pushing yourself to get a little bit better each day. This constant progress will help to elevate your mood and keep you positive during recovery.
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Stick To A Routine
Most runners have a set routine that becomes an internal schedule. For many, their run during the day is the key to the whole thing. Without their daily jog, they may feel lost and off kilter. Stick to the same sleep times, meal schedule, and daily habits. This will help you to feel normal despite missing your favorite activity.
Visualize Yourself Coming Back Stronger
After some injuries, particularly larger ones that may require more treatment, runners may start to lose hope that they will ever return to their sport and compete at a high level. This negative attitude will influence your recovery and relationships with those around you. It’s important for runners to continually visualize success. Think back to your most successful race or your favorite training run and know that you will be back soon.
Many runners use their training and competition as social time to enjoy the company of others. With an injury, those runners may feel left out of their social circles. Whether it’s meeting up with a group of running pals for coffee after their run or joining everyone for cross training that doesn’t aggravate your injury, it’s important to stay connected with friends and training groups. Those same individuals that help push you through hard training runs can give you support even when you can’t be out pounding the pavement side by side.
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Take Time To Prioritize
Can’t run for a few weeks? Often times, this can serve as the perfect mental break to rejuvenate your mind and body. Rather than lying on the couch waiting to attack the roads again, continue with your usual workout schedule but emphasize aspects that are often neglected like foam rolling, stretching, and strength training. Provided these activities don’t aggravate your injury, they can offer the perfect distraction while also improving your fitness for when you’re ready to get back at it.
Cheer On Your Fellow Runners
Although the pangs of not being able to compete may compel you to stay away from road races and competitions, being involved with the athletic community is a great way to stay motivated. By seeing your fellow runners push themselves in races, you’ll feel excited to get back into the action. Just be careful that this doesn’t cause you to come back too soon and neglect a proper recovery.
A running injury doesn’t have to be a life sentence for both your sanity and performance. Although injuries can be frustrating, with the appropriate recovery strategies as well as by managing your time and energy, you can come out on the other side feeling refreshed and ready to get back on the roads.