Sidelined from your Sport

August 2017 was the first time I had ever had an injury that kept me from running. I had a stress fracture in my 4th and 5th metatarsal, so the outside of my foot. This injury crept up after a few aches and pains in other places than my foot. The pain started in my knee. That pain lasted about a week, and then the pain disappeared. Then my knee became achy, but nothing unbearable. At the end of August I was running 9 miles on a familiar route. I got to mile 8 and I felt something pop in my foot. I stopped because I thought my shoes were just tight. I ran the last mile to my dorm, but quickly realized that the pain wasn’t going away. I decided to cross train for a few days, and I would try running again on Friday. Even cross training hurt my foot, but I didn’t think too much of the pain. I went to run again and my foot hurt within a few steps. I kept running because I thought the pain might just be because I hadn’t run in a few days. I only ran 3 miles before I went back to campus.

A few days later, I had a doctor’s appointment. I walked out of the doctor’s office in an air cast, with the instructions to be in the boot for 10 days. I could then run on an alter G treadmill, followed by alternating walking and running for a minute at a time. Ultimately I would be out for 1 month. This was my senior season of collegiate athletics, and was supposed to be what I had built up to for the past 3 years. Everyone was implying I wouldn’t have a cross country season. Thankfully I am stubborn and never listened. Now I also don’t recommend this tactic of not listening because it could cause an injury to get even worse. Thankfully for me doing exactly as I was told by the doctor, followed by only running twice a week for hard workouts ended up working for me. This wasn’t without a lot of ups and downs though.

 

The reality was that having to sit out for a month sucked. I went to meets and cheered my friends on, but at the beginning of every race I would call my parents in tears. I told them I wished I could race, but I knew I couldn’t. Thankfully there was another girl on the team who was also sitting out for injury at the same time I was. We would often cheer each other up, and then cheer on our team. We were able to share with each other how we felt, and never had to tell our team. In our mind we wanted to keep our team from hearing our disappointment with not running because we wanted to make sure they were focused and excited to race. Being injured plays with your mind, especially when you are trying to get healthy again.

 

The first run I had back I thought I had re-fractured my foot. I went back to my dorm and the pain went away. Every time I ran after getting out of the boot I thought I hurt my foot again. This was just my mind playing tricks with me, and sometimes I still think my foot is re-fracturing. By the time I was better there were four cross country races left. There would be five if I could get fast enough to qualify for nationals. Each race my time got faster, and my second race back I actually ran my fourth fastest time ever. When conference championships rolled around I was ready to give the race everything I had to try and qualify. I crossed the line, qualified for nationals, and ended up becoming All-American for cross country my senior year of university.

 

Although injury sucked there were some steps I took to try and make the process better. There were also things I did in training to make sure I got better a bit faster. Here is a list of some of the things you can do if you find yourself injured

1.Rest: Take some time to rest your injury. If you try and jump right back into your sport you are more likely to make the injury last longer. Although I got back to my sport fairly quickly, I progressed very slowly.

 

2.Visualization: Since I couldn’t run I would visualize running. I would close my eyes and imagine how my body would move and feel during a 5km race. This helped  me a lot to prepare mentally for the races I would eventually do.

 

3.Stretch and Strengthen: After my injury I started doing a lot of stretches for my hips, and strengthening exercises for my ankles. These were my weakest areas that led to my injury. You can take preventative measures and work on areas of weakness and tightness before the injury occurs.

 

4.Positivity: Being positive when you can’t do something you love is difficult. If I ever found myself down I would write about it in a journal, then go outside for some fresh air. This would usually clear my mind and help me get back to a positive mindset.

 

5.Support: Although it can be hard, cheering on teammates can help a lot. You get a positive boost and your teammates also get a boost when they are racing and practicing.

 

Injuries do suck, but I believe that mine happened for a reason. I believe that God puts us on every path we end up on to get to the next destination. Thanks for reading this weeks Running Report and hopefully if you find yourself injured this article helps you to know that it will get better. Not being able to do something you love sucks, but try and find something new to fill the time, make time to feel angry, and in the rest of the time try and be positive.

Thanks,

Steph