Why Injuries can be Good

No runner wants to be injured; I think we can all agree on that. I have been very lucky, too: no injury, so far, has caused me to DNS. And I’ve never had to take a lot of time off running, either. Injuries have led to some really miserable races and runs, though.

Today I’m joining Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, April @ Run the great wide somewhere and Patty @ My no-guilt life! for Tuesdays on the Run, but instead of talking about runners who inspire me (except below, briefly), I’m going to talk about why injuries can be good. Because let’s face it, injuries have been on my mind this month.

Running is time consuming
Here I am, again, coming back from ITBS (illiotibial band syndrome). And that’s a good thing. By now you might be scratching your head and wondering if I’ve lost it, or maybe you already know where I’m going with this.

I am jealous of the runners who can just go out and run, without doing any stretching before or after, any kind of strength training, any foam rolling — like my friend Darlene of My First 5k & More (on the other hand, she has also dealt with and come back from far more serious injuries than I’ve ever had to deal with, which definitely makes her an inspiring runner.

Getting back to me, of course, though: running is time consuming. It’s time consuming for any runner who is injury prone. There’s taping, there’s using the stick before a run, dynamic stretching before a run, stretching after, foam rolling. There’s chiropractor visits, massages (hopefully!), there’s strength training to strengthen your weak areas, there’s yoga to stretch out your weak areas. Seriously, the list goes on and on.

A simple 30 minute easy run can easily take an hour or more.

Then add on to that the fact that I’m a slow runner and the same number of miles takes me longer. So stop crying about your 10 minute miles, because I would love to go out there, run for 40 minutes, and be done for a 4 mile run. Just a 4 mile run takes me 50 minutes if I’m having a good day — and that’s without all the stuff I mentioned above.

So why is an injury good?
Because it’s so easy to let all the things you know you should be doing slide. Especially when nothing is bothering you. You’re in a rush & suddenly there goes a stretch before, after, or both before and after your run.

Spend 20 minutes rolling your legs around a little ball? Are you crazy?

Well, you get the idea.

And then there’s the whole listening to your body thing. So easy to push yourself harder and harder when you feel good. Maybe run your runs a little faster than you know you should because maybe it will make you faster or it just feels good or you’re with a group and it feels easy.

Stick to the plan to a T because that’s the only thing that will make you a faster runner, right?

An injury will make you stand up and pay attention. You might realize that maybe it’s a good idea to skip your easy run this week. That you’ll benefit more from strengthening your weak areas than from pounding your body on the road some more. Maybe you’ll make that chiropractor and massage appointment.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn how to avoid making the same mistake the next time. Even though it seems like I’ve been plagued by the same thing over and over again, I’ve also learned something new from every incident. I often come back a stronger runner due to injury. Even, occasionally, earning a shiny new PR.

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Have any of your injuries turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

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15 thoughts on “Why Injuries can be Good

  1. Yes and all that. I was knocked out of the game for 2 years with ITBS. Not only did it get me to reassess what I was doing, it’s brought back the joy of running. Since I’m back at it, albeit short distances for now, it’s fun again. I was so wrapped up with NEEDING to run instead of WANTING to run.

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    1. I’ve been very lucky that it’s never kept me out for long, but you’re so right — I often do say I get to run today. Even when I feel like I have to run today. And I’m getting a lot better at listening to my body & adjusting my plan — always room for improvement, of course.

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  2. Injury – I have not enjoyed going through a stress fracture, but it forced me to find a way to work on my vitamin deficiencies. I guess that’s good.
    I’ve always had to do a short warm up and cool down and stretch after a run, i can’t take even three miles lightly, I just have to do it.
    Pace or how long a run takes never defines how good or bad the run is for me, I just want to feel decent and happy. All summer it’s just mostly struggle whether it’s fast or slow for me, with just a sprinkle of happy moments.

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  3. I do hope you recover fully, however much you’ve learned from your injury. But glad you’re seeing the positives and using them to learn 🙂 My nagging hamstring has forced me to stretch more than I’d like to, and to do more yoga, so I guess that’s a good thing… but I’d like it to just get better eventually! 🙂

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