Q: Escapism or Involvement during injury?

Hi Lauren,

Today I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my pelvis, and I was told not to run for 8-10 weeks. I am allowed to aquajog, but I’m afraid I might go mad spending that much time in the pool! I know you’ve had to deal with some serious injuries, so I was wondering how you were able to retain your sanity during your time away from running? And did you ever try to forget about running completely? I find it very painful to think about all of the track races I’ll be missing this year, but at the same time I don’t want to lose my passion for racing by forgetting about it completely. How involved are you in the running world when faced with injury?

-Broken, Boston



Hi Broken in Boston,

First of all, when dealing with a stress fracture, its crucial not to think of yourself as “broken.” My doctor told me this is very common psychology for athletes, especially females. You are totally going to make it through this though, and I’ll tell you how I know. Your question shows that you prioritize your mental health over physical fitness.  Many of the best distance runners in the world come from places that don’t have Olympic Pools and aqua-jogger belts, or mega gyms with every cardio machine known to man. Even if you didn’t cross train, you would be able to return to running at a high level when this is all over, if you want…it would just take a little longer.

Aqua-jogging should be something you do because you want to. Ok, maybe you don’t actually want to run in place in a swampy pool, but you want the benefits it affords: breaking a sweat, releasing endorphins, having a schedule, staving off depression, making your comeback time shorter once you are able to run, etc. Think about those things when you are getting ready to go to the pool. Set achievable goals so you can practice meeting objectives (which will translate to running,) and if you find that you just can’t do it one day because your misery far outweighs the benefits, go home and relax!

On the path of a running career, there are occasionally dark tunnels to find your way through. You need all your senses firing to get through it, your eyes focused on the tiny box of light ahead, your hand skimming the bumps on one wall to feel your way there. This is why I remove myself from the running/racing scene as much as possible when I’m hurt. Looking at results, talking about running, it all makes me depressed. But although I may remove myself from the athletic scene, I never stop being an athlete. Trust your competitive spirit to come back when its the right time, and not a day sooner.