I’ve spent a lot of time during the last few months not running, either because of injury or recovery from surgery. During these times of rehab and recovery, I’ve learned several crucial lessons that are important for runners. Unfortunately ,a few of them were learned the hard way. I’m still working on “getting” a couple of others.
My hope is that, by sharing some of my hard-learned wisdom, others won’t have such a hard time when they run into the same running roadblocks. The next time life knocks you down with injury or sickness, keep the following things in mind:
It’s Not the End of the World
Being temporarily down for the count is not the end of the world. In fact, there’s a good chance that, if life circumstances take you out of running for a week or two, your body will actually savor the chance to rest and recover. In that case, you’ll probably come back stronger than you imagine and running will feel even better than before. If you’re out of the game longer than two weeks, take heart! This too shall pass – maybe not as quickly as you would like – but it will. You will run again, which brings me to my next point…
It’s hard to be patient when you’re used to being active and have to be sidelined. At some point, you may be tempted to try to do too much too soon. Any time this happens, remind yourself that your body needs time to recover. If your doctor or physical therapist has not cleared you for activity, do your best to follow their direction. They usually have more years of experience dealing with patients with your injury than you have being injured. And, once you are ready to hit the road again, my next lesson is extremely important.
Listen to Your Body
You must learn to listen to your body. I’m not talking about some mystical experience where you go into a trance and your body gives you important advice about life (although that would be cool). It’s important that you become attuned to how your body functions as you run or work out so that you know immediately when something is not quite right. This is especially important as you are recovering from an injury, because the last thing you want to do is re-injure yourself and end up sidelined for even longer. Take it slow, at first, and really take note of how you feel. Then slowly ease into progressively more challenging workouts as your body adjusts to the changes.
Don’t Let Anything Stop You
You can’t let anything stop you from working towards your physical goals. Whether that goal is to run a stronger half marathon next season or to get your body rehabilitated well enough to get back into running again, don’t let circumstances or naysayers stop you. If you want something bad enough, most often a healthy dose of determination and self-discipline is all it takes to make it happen. Keep a good attitude and do what it takes to achieve your running goals.
Nutrition is Important
When you’re injured or sick, nutrition is of utmost importance. At this time, more than ever, your body needs extra vitamins and minerals for recovery. Now, I have a confession to make. When I’ve been injured or in recovery from surgery, sometimes the last thing I want to eat are healthy foods. Instead, I usually crave comfort foods. I’ll admit, I’ve given into those cravings every single time – at least for a little while. But, when I force myself to eat the healthy foods I would normally, I start feeling much physically and mentally better. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you!
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Chapel is a recreational runner and hockey player who enjoys learning and writing about sports nutrition. She is currently working on her MPH (Nutrition) with Liberty University and serves in the U.S. Army Reserve as a chaplain in Columbus, OH.