5 things to say to injured runner friends

It seems that it can be a bit of a struggle coming up with things to say to injured runner friends. I have never been one to police what people’s words, but this past week, I received some truly mind-boggling comments from otherwise well-meaning folk. Providing a list of things NOT to say wasn’t in keeping with my positive nature, so here’s some suggestions for things that might really brighten your injured runner friend’s day.

things to say to injured runner friends

Looking for things to say to injured runner friends? Here are just a few of the statements that would really put a smile on my face.

“You look great.”

Injury means losing a major part of our fitness, and chances are, it’s written all over our bodies. Injured runners may exhibit a noticeable weight gain or loss. Additionally, their injured limbs will most likely show significant atrophy or wasting. Maybe there are surgical scars or wounds. The point is, injury can be a time of great self-consciousness, and it can be buoying to receive a heartfelt compliment.

things to say to injured runner friends

“How’s physical therapy going?”

Since your injured runner friend certainly isn’t hitting any new PRs, it might be nice to ask about PT. Physical therapy is difficult, emotional, and often absolutely draining. To anyone but the client, it’s probably not very interesting, but it’s certainly

things to say to injured runner friends

“Can I join you at the gym?”

If your friend is rehabbing, but unable to run, an offer to join in a workout session would be so appreciated. Runners who are out of the game can miss out on so much socialization and miss fitness with their friends. I can almost guarantee they would love to have someone with whom to chat while they lift weights, stretch or take on the elliptical. It’s not the same as those long run conversations, but it would be welcome all the same.

things to say to injured runner friends

“Let’s go do this [insert non-running activity]!”

Injury is an isolating experience and your injured runner friend could probably greatly benefit from some distraction. It may be difficult for her to ask due to anxiety, depression, or countless other residual feelings, so you broaching the topic would be a kindness. Suggest takeout and a movie rental on the couch, or coffee or cocktails at a fun restaurant. If your friend is up to it, you can even offer a movie or craft outing. No matter what, your friend will appreciate being included.

things to say to injured runner friends

“I’m proud of you.”

Everyone appreciates the boost of a “job well done”, so tell your friend you’re proud of her hard work. Coming back from injury is hard, lonely, somtimes even unrewarding, work, and sometimes one just needs to hear that they are doing a great job. Hearing it from someone loved and trusted is even better.

things to say to injured runner friends

As an injured runner, it’s been difficult to find a place in my new normal. I am incredibly lucky to have such supportive friends and family who have been amazing through this time, but it’s definitely been tough.

What encouragement do you offer to your injured runner friends when they are down and out?

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38 Responses to 5 things to say to injured runner friends

  1. These are some great ideas! I like the one about asking about PT. I think most people automatically ask about running, and then when we don’t have much to say it gets awkward. If they know about an injury, asking about PT would be very thoughtful!

  2. Wendy says:

    This is perfect. I always found that people tend to focus on the negative when I’ve been injured. “Should you be doing that?” “Running is bad for you”. The people who were positive really helped!

  3. What helped me the most when I was injured was finding other activities to do w my runner friends. Injury can make you feel isolated and that was huge for me as my runs are my social time.

  4. Catrina says:

    Great recommendations! I wholeheartedly agree with the „let’s do this non-running activity“. That helped me a lot to feel included and still part of the running community.
    Hope you’re seeing even more progress this week. You’re getting there!

    • runswithpugs says:

      Feeling left out has been really hard with this. There are days when I flat out feel forgotten and invisible. Then it spirals into me not reaching out because I don’t want to bother anyone. Another thing I wasn’t really expecting from a big injury.

  5. That’s a great list! It can be really hard to know what to say sometimes. People mean well, but sometimes we put our foot in our mouths (so to speak).
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…That Made Me Stronger: February 2020My Profile

  6. Darlene S. Cardillo says:

    Great list. Non runners rarely say the right things unfortunately. They mean we’ll but they don’t get it.

  7. I think people mean well (runners and otherwise), but the words don’t always come out in a tactful manner. I appreciate that you kept this post on the positive side of things…channeling your energy towards the good is much better than dwelling on the negative. Hang in there…your progress/rehab is going well 😉

    • runswithpugs says:

      You actually came to my mind when I started to write “5 Things Not To Say To Your Injured Runner Friends” LOL. It was a total “What would Kim do?” moment. Switching the focus to the positive made me feel better about what I was writing.

  8. Amanda Kerr says:

    awe, great positivity! Being injured sucks! I recently strained my chest muscle and had to take about two weeks off the gym. No fun!

    • runswithpugs says:

      It does suck. I’m sorry about your injury and am glad that you are back to it! The chest is a tough one since so much of our regular movements involve that part of the body.

  9. These are all great tips, Jenn. I do miss my running friends when I’m injured and it’s so nice to get a text from one of them, even if it’s just to check in.
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Catching Up Over Coffee: Purging, Mega Guac, and RedecoratingMy Profile

  10. Laurie says:

    Jenn, I needed to read this post. Very helpful. We runners have all had unjured running friends and sometimes it is difficult to know what to say. Thanks for the great tips!

    And how’s PT going? 🙂
    Laurie recently posted…Why I am Not Giving Up Something for Lent This YearMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      <3 It is difficult to say the right thing. I know what I want to hear, but I don't always get that from others.

      PT is going well, thank you. I am still at two times per week, but might start dropping to one. It's hard and it's frustrating, but I feel like we are making progress, so that's the goal!

  11. Rachel says:

    These are great, and I use them often when I have an injured buddy. I spent a lot of time brunching without running when my friend was postpartum. I know it’s not the same as being injured, but kinda because there’s off time and then slow re-intro to activity time.

  12. This sounds awesome, and I think you should follow it up with a post titled, “5 Things NOT to say to an injured runner”!

    • runswithpugs says:

      Haha! That was my original idea, but like I said, I hate the idea of policing what people say. For the most part, people mean well, and I would hate to contribute to a mindset where people shy away from saying anything at all for fear of someone else taking offense or getting hurt feelings.

  13. Debbie says:

    These are great ideas. I always try to be positive and uplifting when I talk with an injured runner.
    Debbie recently posted…10 Tips That Will Make You a Better RunnerMy Profile

  14. Michelle D. says:

    Great list Jenn. I think often people are well-intentioned but just completely miss the mark in terms of what to say.

    • runswithpugs says:

      It’s hard to say the right thing sometimes. I always appreciate the effort of people trying to say something supportive, but thought I could offer some upbeat alternatives.

  15. Marcia says:

    Love these! Sometimes, even when intentions are good, the wrong words come out. These are super helpful.

    • runswithpugs says:

      I am awful at saying the wrong thing (and then obsessing about it for decades after). I either want to fix things or keep people’s spirits up but I know I don’t always do it the right way.

  16. Natalie says:

    Great tips. Saying you look great and I’m proud of you is always lovely. Being positive is helpful too.

  17. Shathiso says:

    I just loved the perspective you’ve offered. It’s so much easier to focus on the negative of not running, that one forgets that there actually are a lot of things that one can say or offer to do to help the situation. Well, I just want to say, I’m so proud of how far you’ve come. What a journey you’ve been on but you still kept up with your PT and blogging (and commenting on all our blogs) too.

    • runswithpugs says:

      I do appreciate that. I’m trying to be productive in my “down time”. Blogging has given me an alternate focus and I love connecting with other people in our blog community. <3

  18. Amber says:

    Great ideas! I’m currently very slightly injured and can barely walk and it is such a bummer to be stuck on the couch all day! I will use these ideas for sure! Thanks for hosting again this week!

  19. For a minute I was confused because I thought the title was “5 things to not say to an injured runner so when I saw that you wrote “You look great”, I was like “huh?” 🙂 These are all great! Sometimes I don’t know what to say and when I do I feel like I am making that person feel worse.

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