Saturday, November 21, 2009

Get-Up And Brush Yourself Off!—10 Tips for Staying Motivated When Injured

Ever have one of those days where no matter what you do, no matter how hard you plan or prepare, all goes caflooie? Study all night only to sleep through your alarm the next day and miss the test. Go to that got-it-in-the-bag interview only to be rejected because you're over qualified? Train right, eat right, sleep right only to miss that long-awaited marathon because of food poisoning from the pasta dinner the night before? It's almost as if life is a big prankster and you're the butt of it's joke.

When the "Prankster" enters your life, you have two choices—1. Let the Prankster win by beating yourself up, or 2. Get-up, brush yourself off and use the experience to make yourself a stronger person. Think about it. If you never experience those bumps in the road along the way, how are you going to deal with that whopping-pothole-of-a-curve-ball that life will inevitably throw your way at some point?

This same philosophy applies to running. Some runners are very lucky (or just have great genetics) and never experience any injuries. While others have injury after injury after injury. If and when that injury comes knocking at your door, be prepared to meet it head on. Don't let it get you down. Be prepared for the doc to say, "No, running for a month." Yikes! Yep, sometimes no running is the best way to recover. But no running doesn't always mean no physical activity. If the doc says no running, then follow-up by asking, "What can I do?" You may very well be able to swim, use the elliptical machine, the row machine, the bike, or the treadmill for walking. Staying physically active during a injury-recovery period is one of the best ways to help keep the no-running blues at bay. It won't make up for no running, but it definitely helps.

If the Prankster knocks at your door with a running injury, try hitting it head-on with one or all of the ten motivation tips below!

1. Ask the doc what other types of cross-training you can do during your recovery period.
2. Work on strengthening your core. A strong, solid core can actually help prevent future injuries.
3. If the doc okays it, join a yoga or Pilate's class for runners to help increase your strength, flexibility, and stability.
4. Use this down-time to fine-tune your nutrition.
5. Stick to your same workout routine, just replace the running with the cross-training activities. This will help keep some normalcy in your life.
6. Surround yourself with your running friends. Just because you're injured, don't stop meeting your running buddies for the after-run bagels and coffee. Their support and motivation during your recovery period will help more than you know. If you're able to walk, during your recovery period, plan on still meeting your buddies for your weekly long run. You'll do a long walk, but you'll still be in your same routine, surrounded by your support network of running buddies.
7. Set a goal for when you recover. Make plans for that race you've been wanting to do. Be sure to set realistic goals allowing enough time for your injury to heal and then for the time that it will take for you to get back up to speed before training for the event.
8. Head to the library or your local book store and stock up on running motivation books such as Once a Runner, Running with the Buffaloes, or Running the Spiritual Path or read up on a new or different method of running such as Chi Running, Brain Training for Runners, Run for Life, or Running Until You're 100.
9. Connect with other runners around the country and the world through running social sites such as,,,, and
10. Prepare yourself for your "Return." If you've not run for several weeks, you'll need to prepare yourself for a gradual return. Depending on your injury and what your doc has advised, your return doesn't necessarily mean you have to run slower. Running too slowly can actually aggravate an injury. Of course 800 repeats at the track at a sub 5K race pace probably isn't a good idea, but running at your normal pace is probably fine. Take walking breaks when you need to. Gradually you'll be able to decrease the walking breaks. The bigger factor to keep in mind is distance. A good rule of thumb is to start back with about half the weekly mileage you had prior to the injury. Then depending on how you're doing, gradually add to your mileage each week, until you're back to your pre-injury mileage. It's also a good idea to run every-other-day instead of back-to-back days during this return-to-running phase of your recovery. Remember, slow-and-steady wins the race.

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runrgrl2007 said...

Is "caflooie" a real word? Great blog for the girl with a foot screaming for some downtime! I think the prankster has spent enough time in my running life. Be gone I say, be gone !

Mel-2nd Chances said...

#1 led me from an injury prone runner, to a triathlete!! Seems weird that I'm now sorta thankful for that injury. Great post as always.

Kenley said...

Great Post RunnerDude! Strengthening the core is a good one. I just started getting serious about that a month ago, even though not injured. You could also catch up on other people's blogs while you are injured as part of your reading. I enjoy your posts and keep them coming. Have a great weekend.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Runrgrl2007! Caflooie is from the RunnerDude vernacular. LOL! Very appropriate word though, don't you think? LOL! Sorry to hear about your foot! Maybe we need to have Prankster-banishing party to send him on his way! Let me know how the barefoot running goes!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Kenley! You may have alread seen this, but here's a link to a previous post I did on a core workout for runners.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Mel! You know I had a similar experience. In 2007 I had to lay off running for 3 months due to a stress fracture. Later that year I had my fastest times! I finally got a sub 20-minute 5K and I set a PR for my Half Marathon at 1:30! Rest really can help your body recoup. Just have to keep your head positive and motivated during the process!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I believe that we all have trials that continue to make us stronger for the next, bigger, "pothole" down the road. It's all a process and it's up to us whether we allow the pranster to get us down or not. I love your blog, runnerdude, keep it up! You have some great ideas and an even greater attitude!

Felice Devine said...

Great tips!

Caflooie! That's exactly it sometimes!

Concord Carpenter said...

Awesome post - thanks for sharing!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Concord Carpenter! Welcome to the blog! Thanks! And glad you enjoyed the post!