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As regular readers of this newsletter may know, I’ve been recovering from a stress fracture this winter. Fingers crossed I’ll be cleared to start running again by next week.
It’s been a long road. I first felt pain in my right leg in mid-January, and the stress fracture was diagnosed in mid-February. I wore that infernal walking boot for a month after that and have slowly been building my strength up since.
I hadn’t had a big running injury in six years, and being forced to the sidelines hasn’t gotten any easier. Here are some recommendations for getting through an injury, based on what I did to wait while my leg stitched itself back together:
Revise your goals. I went into 2019 hoping to run a 100K. I scrapped that goal for these: to be healthy for a cross-country road trip I’m taking next month, and to run the New York City Marathon with my mother on Nov. 3.
Keep those goals in mind. Every time I was tempted to test out my leg too soon, I thought of what re-injury would mean. Would trying to run again too soon endanger either of my goals? The answer was always yes, which sat me back down.
Create motivations. I hate the stationary bike, so for motivation, I told myself I could watch Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” only if I was on it. And while multitasking at the gym may not give you the best workout, some workout was better than no workout, so I took my magazine reading with me to the elliptical machine.
Enjoy your time off. I used my sudden abundance of free time to do stuff I usually wouldn’t have time for while training for an ultramarathon, like pick paint colors for my living and dining room, visit with further flung friends and family, go to two Phillies games in one weekend, and try online dating again. The last one hasn’t been that successful, but I’ve met a few interesting people and checked out new-to-me restaurants when before I might have said I had to go to bed early to be ready for a run the next day.
Remind yourself that it’s temporary. Because fortunately for me, it is. Being cautious with my return should mean I won’t break my leg again and be back in that boot.
Most likely, I just ran too much with too little time off after my last marathon. I haven’t quite figured out how I’ll proceed with running from here, but the pain of that stress fracture will always be in the back of my mind if I am tempted to do too much too soon.
If you’ve been injured, how did you stay patient during your time off to let yourself fully heal? Let me know — I’m @byjenamiller on Twitter.
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Jen A. Miller is the author of “Running: A Love Story.”