Originally this post was titled strategies for dealing with injuries.
But I'm highly caffeinated and feeling really blunt.
On Sunday, I strapped my running shoes on and turned in my first long run on the way to training for the San Diego marathon. The marathon is my great white whale.*
Completing a marathon is on my bucket list and so in February I took the plunge and signed up to take a 26.2 mile foot tour of San Diego. I don’t run the way I did in my twenties and early thirties, when I logged 30, 40 and 50 miles per week and couldn’t be dragged into strength training.
In fact, I remember going into the weight room at Penn State Altoona with a friend of mine and struggling through two ugly reps of the bench press with a 45 pound bar.
It practically pinned me.
I felt weak, inadequate, and completely out of my league. It would be another eight years before I went into a weight room and didn’t head straight for the treadmill.
This past Sunday, I headed out on the country roads near my house and as I jogged past the farms and along the river I was reminded of why I fell in love with running in the first place. It’s meditative. It’s peaceful. It’s cathartic.
I got home after 7 miles and felt great. My only goal with the marathon and training is to stay healthy.
Less than 24 hours later, my right foot started to hurt. By Monday night I could barely put weight on it. By Tuesday I was limping around the gym floor spitting nails and cursing my body.
I could have put my fist through a wall.
I don’t know if the phrase is unique to Western Pennsylvania, but “I ain’t no spring chicken no more.” I get that. I’m not old. But I’m not young. And my body is coming to collect on every check I wrote in my teens, twenties and thirties.
And every time I get a nagging injury my self-esteem takes a hit, I become petrified of re-injuring whatever body part has given up on me this time, and I get depressed. Exercise is my main form of managing my depression and when I can’t workout, it’s not good for me.
The great thing about aging though, is the wisdom that comes with it. As frustrated as I am right now, I have some go to strategies for getting me through.
I write blogs now, but for years I journaled. Writing helps me process life events, make sense of how I feel and what I’m thinking and gives me a chance to really get my emotions out. Today’s journal entry looks something like this:
2. Workout around the injury
I don’t know how long I’ll be limping around on one foot, but I’m obviously not going to put in four miles today. I am, however, going to set a timer for 15 minutes and deadlift my face off. Almost without fail, there is something you can do to work out around an injury. And in the past few months, I’ve seen clients come in with a broken leg, sprained knee, and eight weeks out of a double hip replacement to get in a workout.
I’ve also seen clients come in and workout while going through chemotherapy.
There is always something you can do.
3. Stay connected
We encourage all of our clients to continue coming to the gym despite injuries. Even if they only get on a foam roller or do some light stretching, the community connection can go a long way in keeping your spirits up. When I was a college coach, injured athletes were never excused from practice. Social connection is critical, especially at times when we really don’t feel like it.
I know the word tribe gets thrown around a lot these days, but I can promise you, I’m leaning heavy on my tribe right now as I negotiate this injury.
I often tell new clients that we have very few truly healthy people with whom we work. Almost without fail, we have some nagging injury that crops up from time to time. That includes us coaches. And not just the ones over 30. We all deal with injury at some form or another.
Lean on your tribe. Ask a coach what you can do. Let yourself be emotional. But don't give up on yourself.