Q: Discouraged by Weight Gain After Injury?

Hey Lauren,

My teammates recently told me to check out your site and I’ve been so inspired by coming here…thank you so much.

I’ve struggled with a hamstring injury and a labral tear in my hip for a long time now, and I always felt like I was the only person struggling with such long-term injuries. My question is actually about weight gain after an injury.

I’m about 10 lbs above my target weight thanks to these injuries, and I feel so discouraged in everything I do. Have you had to drop weight coming off an injury before, and if so, how did you tackle that extra obstacle to recovery?

Thanks again for everything,
Elle

 

A:

Hi Elle,

When I injured my navicular in 2008, I went from 125 to 140.  Yikes.

I totally know what you are going through right now. Coming back to running in a heavier body is not only sucky and hard, but it is an emotional let-down because for months all you’ve wanted to do was run, and now running doesn’t feel anything like what you remember. When you are at your ideal weight, you feel like you are meant to run…like you could go forever.  That is the feeling you are probably missing most right now.

the running dreamI’ll tell you two things from my experience (that I’ve been able to see in retrospect) that might help you out in your transition:

1. Spending time injured and then at a heavier weight had unintended benefits for me:

  • I got my period regularly for the first time in two years, and its been regular ever since.  It restored my hormone and metabolic balance and filled up my mineral and vitamin stores.  My blood tests looked healthier than ever.  It was almost like hitting a reset button after years and years of hard training.
  • When I eventually got back to my previous weight, I was stronger and more powerful as a result of my muscles adapting to the larger load from before.  (It was like I had been training with a really heavy sweaty weight vest for several months!)  My drills and weights have more pop, and my finishing kick is better than ever now.
  • I learned that I never want to gain that much weight again, and the next time I was injured, I only gained seven pounds, which had all the benefits but was easier to bounce back from.

2. Training while heavier required a different approach that made me feel connected to other runners:

  • If you start running as a kid, you never understand how “hard” running actually is until you try to comeback from injury for the first time.  Now I get it.
  • It is valuable to experience the struggle to “get back in shape” now, while you have powerful motivation. Think about all the adults you know trying to “get back in shape.”  We’ve been hearing about it all our lives, which tells me it will probably become a theme of our adult life when the structure of competitive sport is done.  How do you want to handle this challenge as you grow older?  This is the first test run…its an opportunity.  Take notes.

When you are getting down on yourself, and you feel like you are breathing like a gorilla in heat while lumbering through the park, try to laugh about it. This is just a temporary thing. You WILL get better. Think of your athletic body as a diamond covered in bits of moss and lichen and clay and sediment.  None of those things actually penetrate through the diamond; they just need to be chipped away at a little bit at a time so you can sparkle.

Thanks for your kind words and for writing in!

Believe,

Lauren