RECOVERY ADVICE In her article for Running.competitor.com, “Overcoming the Obstacle of Injury and Staying Sane During Recovery”, Neely Spence Gracey isn’t happy she’s injured. But she thinks there’s a positive side to taking time off to heal. “injuries suck,” she admits, and goes on to say they can be a part of success. There’s an opportunity to assess what factors came together to cause bodily harm, which in her case was running “too long”, adding other life stressors, and not resting enough. Does this sound familiar?
Gracey concludes that she pushed her body too hard, to the “point where it wasn’t able to keep up with recovery to match the training load.” However, “with smarter training and recognizing which factors we need to be more cautious with in the future, we can heal and get back to training with an even better plan toward success.”
I say “YES” while urging runners to be careful in defining “success”. Neely is one of the top female distance runners in America, says the brief bio-sketch at the end of the article, and enjoys the rigors of training and coaching others. At her career stage, as an elite athlete, being faster and smarter is a reachable goal. For others, the career goal may be similar, with performance at less than elite level.
It has been my goal for the past 5 years.
After enjoying these years training-for then recovering-from semi-annual half marathons, achieving slightly faster times, the thrill has diminished for me. And the desire to complete the longer distance race, the marathon, has NOT taken hold. My goals have turned 180 degrees and headed in the opposite direction.
I’ve heard other runners excitedly talk about taking on new and different challenges. Like hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail with a sibling, cycling across the state of Iowa with a spouse, and climbing to the highest point of each state with friends. Preparing for and attempting these kinds of events seem to offer a greater opportunity for social and cultural growth than weekly long training runs very early every Saturday morning.
More and more friends and family, young and old, no longer run because of time/life constraints or joint, bone, or soft tissue issues. They swim, cycle, workout on machines in the gym, or walk. But they miss running, still love running, wish they could be running.
I LOVE RUNNING. I want to keep doing it. I've become accustomed to my favorite personal events made possible with (bragging) Earned Runs bibs: New Years Day, Saints Days 5K and 10K, Boston Spirit, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, the Honor Series, Breast Cancer Awareness/Cookie String, Mom's birthday, Turkey Trot, my Birthday Run.
The thought of finding myself in that same situation down the road, quitting because my body will be harmed by it, is disquieting. No matter how safely I train, the possibility exists that injuries/degenerative changes will force the end of my running days. Full disclosure: I'm in recovery mode now, and re-thinking my running life going forward.
So, not to be getting too sad about it, let’s all keep in mind that SUCCESS need not be defined only as running faster, farther, or faster + farther more times each year. The mental healing process in recovery that Gracey writes about might include thinking about adding ways to enjoy exercise. “Who am I if I’m not a runner?” she says runners ask. We should ponder that question as we recover.
My take is that if you love to run, you’re a runner, despite not currently being able to run.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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