Monday, October 10, 2011

Injured List Lessons Learned - part i

It's been well over a week now of broken foot. I'm beginning to think that running injuries might follow something similar to the stages for grieving...


Step One: Denial.
"It's just a little ache! That's what the foam roller is for. Just a few more tylenol, sleep it off, you'll be fine for tomorrows long run."

Step Two: More Denial.
Saturday morning's long run rolls around and you can't walk to your shoes, let alone put them on. In this phase of full-blown denial, you complete the Saturday morning pre-run ritual in its entirety, limping all the while. It's not until you're on the trail, three miles away from your car, that you let the truth finally sink in: there's really something wrong here.

Step Three: The World Revolves Around ME!
Three miles away from your car, you're stuck on the trail - in the rain, wind, and cold - and you're weighing the options between taking an hour to limp back to the car, run as fast as you can through the pain because the weather out here stinks, or call your Mom and beg her to come pick you up. You eventually settle on a 50/50 and run track-pace miles in between limping pathetically. You call mom once you're back to the car anyway. "Mom, can you please cancel your Saturday plans? I'm a grown up now, but I'm acting like a three year old who was just told he can't have a puppy." You spin the ER trip as "quality time" and drag her there with you. When you arrive, you make sure you let everybody know that you're running a marathon at the end of the month.

Step Four: Whining.
"What do you mean no running for a week?! Maybe longer??" With a strict no-running rule (and the threat of further damage to your injury), you're disgusted at everyone enjoying running while you can't. Your previous running clubs, dailymile website, twitter - you're struggling unsuccessfully to resist the temptation to whine about how unfair and heartbreaking it is that you're not running your race. To everyone who inquires about your injury, you insist on reminding them that you were running a marathon. In fact, whenever anyone says anything that is REMOTELY related to a running activity (e.g., "nice weather!" or "I hear there's a sale at REI", "want to go camping?", or "Hi."), you begin monolog-ing on how you've got this heartbreaking running injury, and you can't do anything, whine, whine, whine...

Step Five: Bargaining.
Your race date is fast approaching. Will you still try? You worry about losing all that careful training you've painstakingly built over the past several months. Ok, you admit there's no way you're running it... but what if you walk it? Can you walk 26.2 miles in an aircast? Is there any reality in which that is a good idea? But this was going to be a big race for you! You fundraised for it! Maybe you should try anyway. But what if you make the problem worse? You contemplate the options while you've got an ice pack on your elevated broken foot.

Step Six: Dawning Realization.
With all of this new-found free time, you are inexplicably getting more sleep, are less tired, and have more time for other things that you remember you used to enjoy. You're slowly getting out of the habit of "I can't eat that, I'm going to run in an hour/tonight/tomorrow morning." You have lost the superpower of eating carbs on par with the national output of rice in China, but surprisingly you're not half-starved all the time either. You have time to read now?? And suddenly all that time with the foot immobile has turned into a pleasant excuse to read all afternoon. Instead of heading to the track or gym, you find yourself very satisfied at the prospect of dinner and beer/wine with friends.


I'll have to pause my Runner's Stages of Grief here, as this is about the step I'm on now. I suspect this stage might segue into paranoia (I'll never run again/miss more races/am dying, etc.) while I'm still hopeful and eagerly anticipating a glorious pain-free run in the future.

Have you been injured? What steps would you add?


  1. Awesome post, and every time Ive been injured I know I've been through all of these steps. Acceptance will come, and I pray that cheering and/or volunteering will help fill the void.

  2. Prayer, cheer, and acceptance. Such wise words Randy! :)