How To Stay Mentally Strong During An Injury

So as I mentioned Monday, my sports podiatrist confirmed I do indeed have a stress reaction on my second metatarsal.  I’m forbidden to run for at least 3-5 weeks, perhaps a tad longer until I’m able to walk completely pain-free.  I’m not even a full week into resting from running yet, and I’m already starting to feel the mental side effects of this injury.

As runners, we all know so much of the sport is mental anyway–you have to mentally push yourself all the time during tough speed workouts and races, when your legs want to quit and you just want to lay down and drink a glass of wine (maybe that’s just me, don’t judge!).  But you also have to find ways to stay mentally strong during times of injury as well.  Here’s what I’m doing to stay mentally strong and not go insane while I’m resting:

1. Strength Train!  I love strength training in general, but it definitely takes a backseat when I’m focused on running and building up my base.  I’m grateful that I have access to a gym and am able to go in the mornings and pump some iron.  Here’s an article about why strength training is so important for runners, especially when it comes to staying injury-free and being a well-balanced athlete.

2. Trying New Workouts.  I mentioned my new love for Pure Barre last week, and I was initially bummed when my podiatrist said no Pure Barre while I’m resting.  However, my running buddy/teammate Courtney asked the instructor at the studio if they would be able to accommodate and adjust moves for my specific injury and they said yes!  I’m taking a class Thursday morning and can’t wait to be back at the barre.  It’s such a great toning workout regardless, but I find it to be super helpful for me because so much of the class is focused on your glutes, hips, and core which are the areas I need the most work on.

3. Focusing On Nutrition.  Just because I’m not running doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be fueling my body differently.  Yes I may not need as many calories (although I’ve never counted calories anyway), but being injured isn’t an excuse to not pay attention to what I’m eating.  I’m trying my best to make sure I stay adequately hydrated, am eating plenty of greens and whole foods, and staying away from excessive amounts of sugar.  Just don’t ask me to give up my nightly piece of dark chocolate or I will punch you (not joking).  I also started taking vitamin D3 supplements to aid in bone health, in addition to my multivitamin.

4. Enjoying The Small Things.  I know this may sound silly, but when Rusty had his surgery last year on his ACL, he was still his usual happy-go-lucky sweet self, even though he had staples in his leg and a cone around his head.  He still was happy to go on walks and get belly rubs despite his setback.  Not saying I need/want belly rubs, but his surgery helps keep things in perspective for me–just because I can’t run doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy all the other things I’m able to do, like strength and cross train, go to Pure Barre, and enjoy walks with my pup!

5. Be Social!  Being injured doesn’t mean you have to sit around by yourself and mope.  Sure, you may feel sad and defeated and it’s okay to take time to yourself and feel all of those emotions, but I can tell you I feel better getting out of the house and socializing with friends/teammates.  I still went to cheer on my Oiselle girls at the beer mile, and went to happy hour after a Pure Barre class I couldn’t attend.  Just being able to interact and socialize made me feel ten times better!

Additional tips for staying mentally tough during an injury/setback?


11 thoughts on “How To Stay Mentally Strong During An Injury

  1. Amanda says:

    Great tips! I would add to remember that running will always be there for you when you’re recovered and that 3-5 weeks off from running is really nothing in the grand scheme of things…although I TOTALLY understand how it seems like FOR.EV.ER when you’re in it. I had to take over 2 years off from running due to an injury (long story!) and it was definitely tough. When I was really struggling with not being able to run, so many people reminded me that running would always be there for me…and it was! Since I recovered I’ve gotten back into running as if no time had passed at all. And you will too! Take the time that you need to rest and recover and when you’re ready, running will be there for you 🙂


  2. Sam @ See Sam Run says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your stress reaction. I can’t imagine that’s easy to go through! As I had an injury this time last year that had me out for 6 weeks, I know how you feel. You’re right on with this post! Last summer I enjoyed having more down time to spend at the beach and to crochet – stuff I didn’t have as much time to do before. Try not to stress too much – these weeks will go by faster if you don’t. At least you don’t have to go run in this swampy weather 😛


    • bubblyrunner says:

      I’m sure you know exactly where I’m coming from, and I’m leaning towards resting closer to the 5-6 week mark to be safe. I think it’ll be equally as hard coming back–I feel like any ache or twinge I feel will make me paranoid!


  3. amanda -runtothefinish says:

    At one point i was out for 6 months with IT band, I learned to always do my PT from that time forward!!! I also started listening to lots of audiobooks and walking just to get my head straight, i am a much better runner for it


  4. SuzLyfe says:

    Dealing with injury sucks, and you better believe I mean that in a genuine sense of understanding. While I was dealing with my 5+ months of injury and coming back from it, there were so many times that I just broke down. Most important is that you remember that you are more than just a runner!


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