February 4, 2012

This is my brain on injury...

I am one of those runners who is always injured.  Seriously, always.  I try to do all the right things, honest!  Yoga, cross train, stretch, foam roll, low mileage, even ice baths, but I'm always either out with an injury or coming back from one it seems!  My latest injury didn't even have anything to do with running--I slipped on the ice and banged my knee outta whack.  No, thank YOU Midwest winters...Anyways, long story short I took the past two weeks off of running.
 It got me thinking about the mental and emotional side of injury and how I deal with it.  I definitely have a pattern!  Unlike many runners who approach injury with a deny-deny-deny type of attitude, I'm what I like to call a paranoid runner.  When I first feel the twinges of an injury, instead of an "If I pretend it doesn't hurt it's not a real injury" approach, I have more of a "Frantically google my symptoms and freak myself out" approach... This almost always leads to hours of reading every Web MD article and runner's world injury forum thread describing my pain.  Healthy, I know...

Anyways, at the beginning of an injury I am always super depressed.  I play over and over in my head what I could have done differently to prevent the injury.  This is especially true for my ice-fell-knee-foolishness as I've taken to calling it.  Since this wasn't a running injury, I knew exactly what caused it.  "If I hadn't parked on the street, I wouldn't have had to walk down the icy driveway."  "If I'd worn different boots, I might not have slipped."  "If I didn't live in freezing Illinois, there wouldn't be so much ice!!"  You get the idea.  Obviously that's all nonsense and completely unhelpful!  I'm also known to spontaneously burst into tears when coming to terms with a new injury.  Last year when I slipped on the stairs at my friend's apartment and twisted my ankle, I immediately burst into a sobbing fit because I realized that this obviously meant time off running.  (And if I hadn't been wearing ballet flats/drinking wine/racing down the stairs...you get the idea.)  Emotional injured Amy also likes to jump to the worst possible conclusion.  "I will never run again."  "I'm just not meant to be a runner."  Case in point: convincing myself that my ice-fell-knee-foolishness was a torn meniscus and would require surgery.  So. Completely. Untrue.  And crazy.

After I've managed to stop crying, I get in a bit of a funk.  I look out the window of my car longingly at other runners.  I look up races online "for when I can train again."  I make training plans for these "distant future races."  I read running books.  And the shopping...oooh the shopping.  Let's just say I should be allowed nowhere near the running store, amazon, the fitness clothes section at Target, or the nike website when I am injured.  It's almost comical, really.  I literally want nothing more at any given moment during this time than to run.
Case in point, new running capris and swim suit purchased this week while not running...
Here's where things get really interesting...after I've started healing and am ready to try running again, I do a complete 180 and want NOTHING to do with running.  You'd think I'd lace up my shoes as soon as possible, but often times I don't.  Here's why: I become so petrified with fear that I won't be able to run that I don't want to try.  I know.  I'm completely crazy.  It's like I can convince myself that my injury has healed while I'm still taking time off running, and am so scared that if I run I'll find out that's actually not true.  Or that I'll have lost all of the endurance I'd built up and just not be able to run anymore.  Even just admitting all of this I feel silly.  I know it doesn't make any sense!  Welcome to my world of anxiety...

So anyways, back to the present.  I said before that I took the past two weeks off to let my knee heal from the ice wipe out (that wasn't a torn meniscus...duh...).  The first week I was depressed, paranoid, and jumping to the worst possible conclusions.  And I was dying to run.  Then the second week my knee started feeling much MUCH better.  I realized it was probably going to be okay.  And I was dying to do anything BUT run.  I told myself all week that Saturday I'd do it.  Saturday I'd put on my shoes and get out there.  Not until Saturday.  Then this morning rolled around.  I got dressed in running clothes, tracked down my road id and garmin....and sat in bed Pinning and putting off running:
I even caught myself thinking, "Maybe I don't actually like running.  Maybe I'm just not a runner.  I don't HAVE to run if I don't want to..."  Eventually I decided enough was enough.  That that was crazy talk.  That I was being ridiculously stupid.  I put on my shoes, stuck my keys in my banjee (have I mentioned how much I love this thing?), and headed out.
And I ended up having a great run.  3 miles in the sunshine, and the first non-freezing run I've had in awhile.  My knee felt fine!  My IT bands were another story, but I knew that would happen--every time I take a break they tighten right back up.  (Of course, I probably shouldn't have taken a break from foam rolling...oops.)  But this run was just what I needed.  Next week starts half marathon training again (and excessive foam rolling!).  

Last but not least, can I just share my new favorite running song?  Thank you Lauren for introducing me to it and its amazingness.
I must have listened to this at least 4 times on my run.  It was just what I needed to hear today to calm my anxiety, put a smile on my face, and remind me that I CAN do it. "You've got every right to a beautiful life."  Love.  
Do you go completely crazy like me when you have an injury?  


  1. You're funny:) but I know how you feel cause I can be that way, too. I used to get injured a lot until I started regularly (every 5 weeks) visiting my chiropractor and that really helped. take care.
    My Running Shortz

  2. I'm pretty paranoid about injuries too - any little pain and I start worrying it's something major!

  3. Such a nuisance...this whole being injured thing :P I have an idea for you: run only 2 miles at a time for a while. And don't enter any races in advance. Play with it and don't think about if you're faster or slower than whenever you've run before, just accept what THIS day is giving you and what you can bring on THIS day. And I love what you're doing with the kids regarding their tests and trying to ease test anxiety! LOVE. IT.

  4. Like you, there are people who used to be paranoid after having a knee injury. Wearing knee braces will help you cope with that because it will relieve any discomfort from your knee. So don't stop running; just start wearing knee braces.


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