Thursday, September 23, 2010
Running Wisdom: What to Expect When You're Injured
This is the MRI that led to my diagnosis of fractures of my pelvis. I was given a clean bill of health (and the go-ahead to start running) last week without any further imaging, so I don't know what my fractures look like now. Even though I've lost much of my modesty over the course of this injury, MRIs are pretty revealing, hence the censor bar!
You WON'T lose as much of your fitness as you think
Don't panic about your lung capacity diminishing, your cardiovascular strength waning, or your muscles atrophying. No one expects you to run a marathon your first week back; most likely your doctor will order you to ease back into the sport. Last week I was allowed to run half a mile every other day. This week I'm up to a mile every other day.
You WON'T gain weight*
*If you reduce your calorie consumption to account for the fact that your body needs less fuel. In fact, you may even lose weight (I did!).
You WILL need to withdraw from your social circles for a while
Logging onto your Facebook or Twitter account may add (unintentional) insult to injury if your friends are runners. Every status update or tweet about a glorious long run can feel like a little dagger to the heart. Getting together with friends can be therapeutic, but only if the dinner conversation doesn't linger on the topic of running. (You may want to unplug in other ways, too - I couldn't even bear to read my Runner's World subscription.)
You WILL become less despondent as time passes
The first month is excruciating. You'll feel old and vulnerable. You'll question your identity and self-worth. It gets better as you work through the five stages of grief and adapt to the new normal.
You WILL gain empathy toward the aged and ailing
It's humbling to wince in pain with each step you take and go to great lengths to avoid stairs. On the flip side...
You WILL grow impatient with the able-bodied yet indolent
Good health is an incredible gift, one that shouldn't be squandered. It seems like a cruel joke when people waste their well-being on inactivity, while you, the fitness nut, are sidelined.
You WILL have more time on your hands
Start a project. Plan a vacation. For god's sake, sleep in! Funnel the energy you once put into running toward something else.
You WILL run again
When you start catastrophizing, remind yourself of this fact. This period is a small blip on what otherwise will be a long running career.