I had dinner with a friend last night. She and I have both been injured for a while. Happens to the best of us when you push you body to it’s limits and beyond–in fact it’s almost inevitable. While we were talking we both admitted to feeling isolated because we are not out training and racing with out friends. As a runner or triathlete, you have many friends you only see at run group or masters swim or group rides, so when you have to stop that all of a sudden you can feel left out of all the “fun.” I think it actually might push people to resume training before they should which can land them back on the injured reserve list for even longer.
So what can you do to help beat the injured reserve blues…
1) Volunteer at a race–you might not be able to run a race, but maybe you can hand out water or help with registration. There are plenty of different ways you can help and you should be able to find one that won’t overtax you while you are injured. Do make sure to mention your injury and limitations to the volunteer coordinator so they can assign you to an appropriate position. Variations on this theme include cheering on your friends and/or teammates at a race. Make some fun signs, bring some beverages and make lots of noise!
2) Do what you can–so what can you do? If you can’t run, can you swim? Or do yoga? Or focus on weight training? A bunch of my friends started a 30 day squat challenge a couple of days ago and while I was contemplating whether I could do it on one leg, one of them suggested I substitute sit-ups. Genius, right?! Well, it took someone else suggesting it to me to sink in. Maybe you can try that class at the Y that you have been meaning to but always conflicted with the run group. Whatever you do, try to get out of the house to do it so you are with people–you may also make some new friends in the process
3) Treat your recovery like training–wake up early, do your exercises, eat well, get lots of rest. Do the things that made you successful in training as you take appropriate steps in your recovery. In addition, while your friends are posting their long run mileage on various social media platforms, go ahead and post your latest wins at physical therapy. You, like me, may be strapped into a harness in order to use the treadmill, but if you go one more minute than last session, let it be known to the universe.
4) Know that you are not alone–we all deal with injuries because we push our bodies to limits and sometimes beyond, it’s part of the risk of being an athlete. So it shouldn’t be difficult to find friends who know what you are going through or might even be going through the same thing. Through the wonder of twitter, I found fellow athletes who had surgery around the same time and we have been comparing our progress, encouraging each other and celebrating along the road to recovery in ways that others might not be able to. For example, one tweeted about her first trip to the grocery store without crutches and we were all able to empathize and celebrate with her.
So that’s been my approach to trying to deal with the blues of being on the injured reserve list–what is yours? Hoping that your time on the injured reserve is short lived. And when you get back to the things that you love, remember to check in on your injured friends every so often as they wish they could be out there with you.