How to Stay Active While Injured
With school back in session and summer almost over, I started thinking about that back-to-school standard assignment “What I did on my summer vacation”.
Historically, my summer months are filled with weekly swim, bike and run training sessions totaling 8-12 hours a week to prepare for the 16 or so races I sign up for from April to October.
But not this summer.
Last fall, I injured my hamstring/glute and after months of reduced mileage, rest and multiple forms of treatment – I wasn’t getting better.
I was spending my days in agony at the thought of running 8 miles, but skipping any workouts would mean I wasn’t race ready. The physical pain was almost as horrible as the mental struggle of dealing with my injury.
So. I decided to take racing off the table and focus all my energy on recovery. If you yourself have ever dealt with an injury, you can attest to how difficult it can be. Here are some things that can help make it a bit easier.
You’re not likely to be putting in the same training hours you’re used to. But, chances are you’re able to do something. If that’s the case – keep moving!
Whether it’s shorter distances, less intensity or a different type of workout altogether, do it. Keeping the heart pumping can help you heal by getting blood flowing to the area you’re injured. Not to mention, staying active can make it easier for you to return to pre-injury workout levels.
Treat any prescribed exercises or stretches as a workout. My PT routine had become nearly an hour in length, so I started to dress for it and track it like an actual workout. Giving myself ‘credit’ for my exercises made me more likely to remain compliant and feel like I was still doing something.
Becoming a fan is a great way to stay connected to the running community. If you were signed up for a race or have friends racing – go watch! Getting out there and cheering others on requires little more than a cowbell and a few encouraging words. Seeing others run can help you stay motivated and positive while you’re on the mend.
Or, better yet, volunteer! Volunteering for a race gives you an appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes that you don’t always get as a participant. As a side benefit, if you volunteer for a race you were signed up for, you might be able to get your entry deferred to the following year when you’re healthy enough to participate!
Whether it’s a new recipe or a new hobby, learning something new can help take your mind off the fact that you’re not running or racing.
I’d always been curious about ChiRunning and decided to take some of my down time to learn about the technique. I read the book, took the workshops and integrated drills into my daily routine. I figured working on my running form could help in my recovery and knew that it wasn’t something that could be done while training and racing.
Not only has my body benefited from the time off, but my mind has become rested as well. I’ve stayed active, stayed connected and learned a few things along the way.
While I’m not 100% injury free, I know spending my summer vacation free from the packed racing schedule has helped me get to the point where I now feel 90% healed.
I’m even looking forward to a few short races this fall – school is back in session after all.