Friday, November 23, 2012

The Emotional Stages of a Running Injury

I'm being a big baby!

It's true.  I'm being a big jealous baby!  Watching all my runner friends race and run long runs.   I'm so jealous!  I haven't even updated my blog OR taken many pictures with my iPhone.  One of those would be sad but both of them happening at once is TRAGIC!

Most runners I know are acutely aware that when hurt, runners get depressed.  I have experienced it many times.  My first stress fracture was no big deal, but before my second stress fracture I was getting my mileage up and training for a half marathon.  After that I had plantar fasciitis and took almost a year off.  The depression wasn't too bad as life was handing me some great things about that time.  Last years knee pain was frustrating but easily fixed.  This time around is serious.  Seriously frustrating, depressing and maddening.

Running without injury I was able to race and have fun and increase my time. I was loving loving loving it.  Then I got sassy and went to a low heel to toe drop shoe too fast and even took out my custom orthotics.  I was under some kind of impression that my feet were stronger.  I had done nothing to make them stronger, but the mind of the runner is a strange and scary place.  

I really wanted to finish the year of races but after the Vegas Ragnar the pain was just too great to keep running. Pain all the time.   I'm hoping for recovery before the Key West Ragnar, really hoping.  I've got my plane ticket, paid for the race and really want to run it.  I have low mileage so that will help.  

I won't be able to do the Winter Sun 10K in Moab, which means I won't get their special prize for running all their races in one year.  Bummer.  

I found an article in Runners World about depression and grief after injury.  It's just like any other loss, that's for sure.

GOOD GRIEF  (what a great name)

 The key is taking a purposeful approach. If you can recognize each stage of mourning, and work actively to move through each one, you'll heal faster. And that means you'll be back on your feet sooner.

I've listed the stages and my thoughts.  If you want to read the entire article just hit the link and read it.  It's very good.


My favorite river, that's for sure.  
"Runners in denial know they're injured but won't admit it," 

Yeah, slight pain started in June and I ran on it until November. Three Ragnars, 3 half marathons and countless long runs.  Now not only do I have plantar fasciitis I have some sort of heel injury and nerve damage.  I was warned, but I thought I had it handled.  I really don't want this injury to take me out for a year, but I am going to try my best to be a realist.  

SMARTIES - listen to their body and spend a few weeks on the couch instead of months out of commission.  

GREAT time at the Wasatch Back.  Some soreness in my foot, but I was determined to run through it.


Last night I was angry at everyone.  I was mad because my foot was killing me after I did a TRX class (with no jumping and gentle foot movements).  I went to get dinner where my daughter works and it took me 3-4 steps after getting out of the car to walk like I wasn't having a seizure.  I blamed my doctors, my shoes, ibuprofen, my car and my last cortisone shot.  (Blame rarely makes sense) 

SMARTIES - The article suggests making a plan and staying focused on recovery.  

Research reports that athletes who use positive self-talk and set goals for their rehab experience "exceptional recovery." 

I have a couple of ideas to throw into the mix, since I don't really need PT at this point, but more rest and recovery.  My goals include keeping the rest of my body strong and focus on the things that I'm doing to help my foot get stronger. Icing, ibuprofen (hang in there, kidneys!!) massage, rolling will all be done.  I am resting and elevating it quite often, which seems to give me the most relief.  All exercise I am doing is adjusted for my injury.  (Thanks to my Pilates/TRX instructors)  Unfortunately hanging planks off the TRX does not affect my foot at all.   

These are pictures I took off the computer screen when I was doing my flight nurse learning modules.  They crack me up.  
Cranky/Angry Nurse and Sick Nurse
Can't be a good team member if your either.  


When injured athletes finally confront their injury, they sometimes become too gung-ho. "You think, I'll do more rehab, more often, more reps, more weights, and then I'll get back to running sooner," 

I don't know if I overdid it, but I definitely convinced myself  that I could heal my foot without rest.  I'm almost embarrassed.  Ok, I'm embarrassed.  Now I just need to accept the fact that I may need to find substitutes for my Ragnars next year.  Don't worry team, if your reading this, I've been a captain and I'd never leave anyone hanging.  

SMARTIES - Take their time and don't rush the recovery.  "you can't microwave recovery, you have to slow cook it"


According to the article, the longer you are off for your injury, the more the depression will linger.  I'm hoping that I'm already at this stage, but who knows.  I may still be bargaining.  The article also states that the enthusiasm for physical therapy will fade.  Great.   

Fill downtime with other activities that don't exacerbate the injury and stay involved in running by volunteering or supporting a friend during a race.  

I have been considering getting a swimming coach and learn to swim.  It could be a good cold weather activity that will challenge me.  

Beautiful sunrise while driving to work on Monday


"This is when you are properly sticking with your rehab plan and you're seeing progress," Taylor says. You've accepted the injury, and also that you'll eventually be back on your feet. Coming to this mindset is critical to recovery. Research shows a direct relationship between stress and injury. Anxiety can cause muscle tension and suppress immune function, which can delay how quickly you get better. In this stage, you have a peaceful mindset that encourages healing.

I know that I'm not there yet.  I'm close.  I have some real anxiety inducing stressors in my life right now that are not ready for blog-time, but that are consuming me and I don't have my running outlet.  I don't think the stressors have caused the injuries, but haven't helped in my acceptance and recovery.  I do feel really good about the classes I've signed up for at my Pilates studio and the other things that I can do to take up my "mind time".  

Thanksgiving day.  Overtime.  On the way back to the airport I elevated my foot and it took all the pain away.  I'm learning what my foot needs to feel better.  I use to want a tight shoe to hold the fascia tight.  Now if it's too tight and I'm on it too long it just starts to ACHE!  If I loosen the shoe and elevate it then within 10 minutes the pain is gone and I can walk on it without much discomfort.  

Don't worry - my feet didn't stink and I don't think the cab driver saw me do it.  At least he didn't say anything.
My dogs were barkin!!

So here is to recovery and rehab!  I'd take a drink but I'm on the clock.

How have you best dealt with injury?

Blog on............


  1. Kathee ~

    I would say it's worth a shot to email the race director of that race you won't be able to do in December, and explain to him that you had every intention of doing it, to finish the series and get your prize. Tell him that you are willing to volunteer at the race at an aid station or the finish, whatever ~ that you have medical training and would be happy to be a resource to him, and hopefully he will let you get your series prize :)

  2. I think there is definitely depression that goes along with a running injury. I've been there for non-running and running related injuries and it's tough every time. The running ones are harder though because you have to let go of goals as well as accept that you're hurt. Anyhow, I think being aware is the best thing. Try to stay positive but realize it's going to be tough. Hang in there, do all of those other things that you can do safely and hopefully you'll be back on the road again soon. But don't feel bad about grieving, it's okay to be upset. Good luck. :o)

    1. I'll have a couple of pity-parties and then pull it together!

  3. Wow! I never knew all these issues and stages of injuries. I am so sorry and hope you can heal adequately and timely. I am a fairly slow runner and fortunately haven't had to deal with injuries yet. I also like to run in the trails which I know for me is a lot more gentle for my body. It makes me sad that people have to be sidelined like this when it takes them away from something they love so much. Swimming may just be a good option:) Good luck!

    1. Thanks so much! I'll be back, that is for sure!

  4. For obvious reasons, I hope you heal quickly. For less obvious, more selfish ones, I *really* hope you're okay to run the Key West Ragnar. I'll be there! It'd be very cool to meet another blogger, wouldn't it?

  5. I would LOVE it!! I'll keep in touch, but I'm sure I'll be there.

  6. hahahah :D Great and enjoyable article :D Combo :D

    running foot injuries