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Open Letter to Injured Runners: 7 ways to Stay Motivated During Injury Rehab

Hey there, Runner,

Let's not sugar coat this.

Let's be real.

Being injured sucks. (you might even feel more…colorful…about this; and I would agree with you.)

Because not only is the physical pain nagging, maybe even unbearable , but there's a whole mental side that probably blind-sided you.

You might not have seen this coming:

  • the frustration, confusion,

  • the rationalization that you've tried all the things, done all the cross training, strength training

  • leaving you thinking "why is this happening to me?"

You might even feel betrayed by your body, wondering, "I'm not sure any of that stuff actually helps."

Maybe you've gone down the webMD rabbit hole, too: googling, reading, searching, trying to figure out what's wrong; "I think it's this one thing…but now my body's changed it up."

Maybe you're stuck between:

  • "The pain is weird and vague and it moves around…"

and

  • "It's always in this one spot and it doesn't go away…"

Who knew this injury thing was going to be full of mental gymnastics, right?

What if I told you this was actually an OPPORTUNITY?

A time for you to get stronger.

A chance for you to become your best runner-self yet.

The comeback you didn't know you needed.

Would you believe me?
Do you want to try?
Explore it?
Try it on for size?
What do you have to lose?

You have everything to gain.

Let's check this out together: 7 ways to keep you motivated and positive during your running injury rehab. Let's make this your come-back story.




Give it your all. Commit.

This is the first thing I'd tell you as my runner-patient in the clinic (and as one of my Instagram runners starting one of my coaching programs or workshops)...

Give me all you've got, ok?

You're a runner, remember?

Which means you ARE strong; you ARE resilient; you ARE a fighter!


The race isn't over with an injury. Exactly the opposite.

The starting gun has only just gone off. The race is NOW, getting you back on the road, on the track, on the trail.

Bring your passion for running, your determination, your sheer perseverance.

Leave nothing left in the tank.

Commit to your running rehab exercises.

Because you know your physical therapist, athletic trainer,(...whomever!), is bringing their A-game; are you?

Your rehab is your new training block.

Rehab is NOT the time to sit on your butt on the couch.

It's NOT the time to think, "this is stupid; it won't work."

This is GO TIME.

This IS training!

It's just a training block you've never done before.

And if you don't do it now, you're never going to reap the amazing benefits of fine tuning your body's movement, strength, mobility, or speed.

And that's NOT you…

You may be down, but you don't give up.

Just like you commit to your training plan for your big race, meet your rehab training block with the same enthusiasm and dedication.

Because THIS is how you get stronger.

This is your opportunity to come out stronger and become your best runner-self yet.

This is a chance you didn't have before your injury.

You were busy and pre-occupied with your next long run or speed work out…

And now, plans have changed.

Maybe for the better.

Because your body is asking you, begging you, giving you permission to come out of this stronger than before.


You have this time now set aside to work areas you might have neglected before.

Maybe that's physically?

Maybe it's actually mentally.

Because we know, running is a mental sport of "I can do this; I can keep going."

Just watch.

After all the hard work you put it into this your body is going to be ready to go, refreshed. You might have more build up time than you'd like, but this race is far from over. Especially now that you've got new tools to stay strong and keep going.

It's ok that this sucks sometimes. The secret is to keep moving forward.

I promise, I'm not trying to make it out that your running injury is going to be all sunshine, rainbows, and cat memes.

There may be times where you feel like:

  • "I miss running. It's part of who I am; what I do. It's how I stay sane."

  • "I look at my running shoes and I get sad, depressed, upset. I have to shove them in a closet."

  • "Maybe I can't do this. Do I have to give up long distance running? But I love this… I don't want to give up on something I love. Maybe I'm just not a runner."


Or the one that makes my physical therapy-heart the saddest:

  • "I've gone to PT so many times. I don’t know if really does anything. It helps for a while and then things start to come back. "

When these thoughts come up, remember this:

Those are just thoughts.

And just feelings.


And if they come, then they'll also go.

It's even ok to sit with them for a little.

But at the end of the day, you're in charge of inviting them over for a long term stay or kicking them out at 9pm.

How?

Easy.

By taking action.

Because action creates clarity. Clarity creates momentum.


And as runners, we THRIVE on the momentum!

The momentum of a run can set the whole tone of our day.

It can set us up for success or make a terrible day a little better, providing a moment of peace during chaos.

And your ability to create that isn't gone.

It just looks differently now.

Remember that first way we talked about?

Commit.

Commit to your rehab.


So when unwanted thought-guests start to make a semi-permanent home in your brain, fall back on your rehab plan.

  • Do your rehab exercises.

  • Try a new form of cross training.

  • Commit and take action.

  • Move one step forward; one step closer to your goal of getting back to running.

Your progress will feel slow, until you look back at 2 weeks.

I hear from you runners in the clinic that the first week of your rehab doing exercises, it's hard to tell a difference.

But don't worry.

It's there.

I can see it; I can test it.

By week 2, if you've:

  • stayed committed

  • taken action

  • and used this opportunity to get stronger, you'll start to see how your body has changed; how things are starting to turn a corner, hurt less, move easier.

It might happen even sooner!


But trust me; keep hustling for that 2 week marker. If you can commit to a 6 to 12 week race place, you can commit to 2 weeks a time.

You might feel alone; I promise you're not.

Pain can make you feel isolated, misunderstood, …even hopeless.

That's why it's so important you know:

  • You're not alone.

  • I know you're not making up your pain.

  • And there is hope.

There are other runners in the exact same situation as you.

There are runners who have been in your shoes.

And it's going to be ok.

Promise me this: You'll keep showing up and putting in the work.

And if you want to take your action plan to the next level: don't be afraid to connect with other runners right now.

You're still a runner! (maybe even more so now that you're fighting for your come-back? Haha).

Because these things happen in the running-world, to weekend warriors and elites alike. You've got hundred, thousands…millions! Of other runners who do know what you're going through! All you have to do, is find them.

The Run is always waiting for you; it's not going anywhere.

I promise.

Whether you take 2 days off, 2 weeks, or even 2 years (like I did)…it'll still welcome you back with open arms.

Once a runner; always a runner.


 

How are you feeling now, runner?

Maybe a little more hopeful?

Or maybe if nothing else, at least seen and understood?

Take the tools you need; leave the ones you don't.

But don't let this opportunity go to waste.


I promise, if you dive in, you'll learn more about yourself both physically and mentally than you thought possible.

You'll emerge stronger, more resilient, and ready for your comeback. All because you Dared to Train Differently (because remember; rehab is still training!)

Until next time, running fit fam.

Dr. Marie Whitt //@dr.whitt.fit


P.S. looking for some exercises to keep you motivated and committed during this new training block? I've got you, running fit fam. Check out my free running guide HERE!

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