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BOA Chicago Marathon

The Hard Truths of My Injury

After 12 long weeks of waiting, I finally began my return to running this week. I never thought it would come—and in fact thought it would come sooner than this—but such is the recovery process, I guess. Before I dive into my training in future blog posts, I wanted to start now with sharing a few of the hard truths I have learned over the past three months. Any of these resonate with you?

Hard Truth #1: Despite being told my entire life I can’t gain weight, I weigh the most I ever have: 155 lbs.

Hard Truth #2: I’ve always thought I naturally had a huge appetite, but now I realize that must have been all the running. After about two weeks of inactivity, I was unable to go back for thirds during dinner. The injustice! I was especially disappointed with myself over Thanksgiving.

Hard Truth #3: I used to be able to run 9 miles every day without even a thought to how much energy that takes. Now I get winded going up 2 flights of stairs.

Hard Truth #4: The mental challenges of dealing with an injury have been harder to process than I thought they’d be. There were a few different stages I went through before accepting my injury. At first, I completely denied that I would be out more than 6 weeks, which kept me hopeful and in a good mood for a while. Then after 6 weeks passed and it still hurt to put my pants on, I went into the “why me” and jealousy phase. My mood changed from optimistic to being depressed and irritable. Every time I saw somebody running I thought to myself, “Why did I have to be injured?” I was really jealous of everybody else who was healthy enough to train and race. After about 9 weeks, I finally accepted the injury for what it was, and that I would just have to wait until it healed to run. During this phase I started to reread some of my running books so I could live vicariously through the characters’ runs in the books. Hey, don’t judge – sometimes you just gotta do whatever it takes to get through!

Hard Truth #5: My injury—and the time I’ve had to take off from running—has taught me how much a true support team helps not only when I’m running well, but even more when I’m not running at all. In October, I went to the Chicago Marathon even though I was injured and could not run. I was inspired by the PRs that each of my five teammates ran. Even after running those great marathons, they were very supportive of my injury. Also during that time in Chicago, I was able to connect with a friend going through the same thing as me. He was also struggling to get over the disappointment of not running. Thanks, Matt, for showing me how to be a real team player. My family and girlfriend have also been incredibly supportive, giving me a greater perspective on the situation that had nothing to do with running. It helps to have people in your life who understand why you have to run 20 miles at 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings.

More than anything, I’ve gotten back in touch with what motivates me to run. As Jack Daniels says, understanding why you do something is an important part of understanding how you will train and compete.

What have been my take-aways from these hard truths? A few tips:

Tip #1: If it’s at all possible, always attend your goal race, even if you are unable to run. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself and the people around you. This extra motivation can ultimately help you run better in the future.

Tip #2: Figure out what motivates you to run before setting up a training plan. For me, it’s competition. I love to compete against myself, but I really like to compete for my team. I don’t get a chance compete at a high level in any other aspect of my life.

Now let’s hear from you: what motivates you to run? If you’ve been sidelined by injury, what were some of your “Hard Truth” realizations? Leave a comment below!

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