For me, running has definitely changed after injury. Just over a year ago, laying in bed and facing surgery, I really didn’t know that I would ever run again. Of course, I hoped I would, but there are no guarantees in life.
So now, I’m back in the game, and things have definitely changed. Some changes are positive, while some are less so, but things are certainly different.
I actually have a little more stamina
Even before my accident, I made use of the Galloway Run-Walk-Run technique. For a variety of reasons, this was the smartest way for me to run, so I stuck with it once I returned to running, and got through Couch to 5K. Funny thing, though: I used to run intervals of 1:30/1:00, and now I’m fairly comfortably handling 3:00/1:00. Am I significantly faster? I don’t think so, but it’s still early in my “comeback,” so we shall see. I’m just happy for the improved stamina.
My daily recovery takes a little longer
I will lay it out there: after physical activity, I limp. Usually, I’m not in actual pain, but my ankle will stiffen and get tired. It’s all relative: when I run long or run on back-to-back days, the “consequences” are more pronounced. I confess to being embarrassed by this, and spend a lot of time working on trying to regain as much of my former strength and flexibility as I can.
My confidence wavers
Before my injury, I was pretty confident. I was really up for just about anything, anytime, and I loved that feeling. Now, caution, sometimes extreme, has crept back into my life. I’m hesitant to run in the dark because of the risk of tripping or rolling an ankle. Slick surfaces terrify my because I don’t want to lose my footing. Before, I hoped to try for another trail race or triathlon, but I’m just not that sure of my ability right now.
I’m a little more self-conscious at races
Yes, this is ridiculous, but with races limiting their fields, I am super self-conscious about my abilities. This is an old anxiety that has resurfaced with some of my self-doubts, and I can only hope that time will decrease my nerves. The few races I’ve done have been fine, so I don’t know why I’m so concerned, but it’s messing with my head a little.
I am so much more grateful
I loved running before, but now, every time I lace up, I just feel so fortunate. It seems a little cheesy, but even on the hard days, it’s just so darn fabulous. I don’t take a single moment for granted, and I don’t think I ever will again.
Have you experienced major changes to your running after injury or other disruptive event?
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Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
I’ve had alot of injuries that have led me to experience some of these feelings too. I definitely appreciate all my runs more, but sometimes I question if my body will hold up running a marathon again. It’s great that you have been able to run longer intervals after your return to running!
I don’t have a marathon in me (unless it’s one with a VERY generous time limit). It’s ok, because I hate the 26.2 distance, but it would have been nice to do New York. Oh, well.
Darlene S. Cardillo says
These are all normal. I had a similar injury as you know and was out of it even longer.
Some things will go away as time goes on.
Of course everyone is different.
I still cringe when I see ice. My ankle is still stiff and weak.
But you will run long again. You will run fast again. You will love racing again and running with others.
Ice is so scary!
However, I am always so inspired by you and your dedication and commitment. And I think if I can do another half again, i will feel pretty good about myself. I don’t think a marathon feels right for me at this point, but I’m so close to 13.1 and that would feel like a victory.
After an injury like yours, I’d say running at any pace or distance is a huge win. I give you SO much credit for getting back out there and rebuilding your strength and stamina. I think I mentioned before my MIL sustained the same injury falling on the steps to her garage and she’s installed railings in so many places and is super careful at all times now. Falling really does a number mentally.
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Railiings aren’t enough! I am so terrified of my stairs. I still go down one step at a time (with both feet coming together on a step before I go to the next). And I HATE when the boys run up or down them. The sound makes me physically ill. Hopefully, that will decrease in time.
Deborah Brooks says
I also spend a lot more time on recovery and that’s a good thing! I also kept up my intervals and kept increasing them slightly. I know they have helped me run stronger and I am not sure I am ever giving them up!
Intervals have really been such a blessing. I don’t know that I feel the need to bump up any more, right now. At the end of the day, even though I can do the runs, comfortably, my toes will sometimes go numb and my ankle will ache, so no point to beating the heck out of myself if I can get along just fine where I am, if that makes sense.
Kim G says
I can totally relate! I definitely had many of your same feelings when I returned to running after taking time off due to injury. One thing that really changed for me was that I no longer focused on pace and PRs – I was just thankful to be out and running.
Yeah, I’m a little worried about pace, more because I am weirdly competitive with myself, but the rest of it, meh. I’m out there, running, and that’s what matters.
That’s awesome that your stamina has improved, Jenn!
I was injured for nearly a year in 2019 (Achilles tendonitis). I remember that feeling of gratitude when I started to run again. I was so thankful!
Sadly, I tend to lose that gratitude when things go well – but posts like yours are a great reminder that we should never take running for granted!
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Haha! Don’t we all? I’m not there yet, but in a few years, I imagine I’ll need to have a chat with myself about being thankful.
Yes, the main thing that’s changed in my running post-injury (injuries) is my sense of gratitude. There are no bad days- I’m just so grateful to be able to do it at all!
Hopefully the negatives that you mentioned will ease with time- the confidence will come back and you’ll feel less self-conscious as your injury fades into the background.
We’re all so lucky to be able to run!!!
I mean. there are bad days, but it’s a fleeting, annoying bad.
We are SO lucky. I do struggle with the limping, and I always feel like I’m apologizing for being slow or awkward. I hate that feeling. Ugh.
I think as we get older, it’s easy to lose a little bit of our confidence, whether we get injured or not. Of course, your injury had a big impact on you physically, but it probably also brought home the reality that we are not as invincible as we think we are. You are doing an amazing job of coming back from your injury. I think about that every time I read one of your running posts. I think focusing on gratitude will help keep the negative self-talk at bay.
I do appreciate that. It’s scary to not be able too handle the things I used to do, but I’ll get there. Or not, I guess. But yes, gratitude is so important.
Thankfully I’ve never had a major injury like yours.
I am guessing that as more & more time passes, the confidence will get better & better too. That’s the good thing about time — eventually we forget!
It also sounds to me like your feelings are completely normal considering what happened.
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I hope so. It’s just made me less hesitant to try things, or return to things, because I feel clumsy and weak.
I definitely think it’s normal, and i sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t try a therapist who deal with this for a bit.
Well, at least giving yourself grace for more recovery and being grateful are positives. You need to kick that imposter syndrome to the curb! Since you appreciate being able to run more, you “deserve” to be racing more than ever. 😉
Although I’ve never had a serious injury like yours, the lockdown we had early on in the pandemic when we were not allowed to run outside, made me appreciate my runs so much more – and just feel so grateful for being able to run. I hear what you mean about being self-conscious at races (goodness, I used to be self-conscious just running on the open road) – but you belong there as much as the next person. You are so strong and have triumphed over a horrendous injury – always remember that.
The lockdowns have definitely altered a lot of perspectives too.
Thanks for the huge boost! It’s so kind of you to say that.
You have come so far since your injury! After breaking my foot, I became more diligent about my bone health with supplements and eating more calcium-rich foods. I also learned that I’m best not pushing the intensity too much in my training, which was my mistake then.
My surgeon said my bone density was fine, but I’m fairly good on calcium, so I don’t worry too much. I’m glad you’re on the other side of that injury, tooo.
I loved following along with your recovery. You played it smart and at the same time were brave to even try after your serious injury. I’m so happy for you that you’re back. You’ll get that confidence back with time.
<3 I have so appreciated that support.
It’s amazing how far you’ve come back in just over a year. I love that you can see both sides of it – how far you’ve come and the challenges on the table.
After minor injuries, determined not to take running ever for granted
I can’t take it for granted. No way! Not ever!
Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says
I appreciate your honesty – it is challenging to come back after an injury and have that full confidence. I’ve been really inspired by how you’ve come back. I always say that running is a gift!
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It is such a gift. I hate that it took a broken leg to really drive that point home, but here we are. I do appreciate the love and support.