Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lessons Learned from an Injured Runner

Since being on the disabled list, I've learned a lot of things.  Some are obvious, while others will hopefully make me a better runner in the future.  But here's what I've learned about being injured, in no particular order.

1.  You have a ton more free time. Well, technically I wouldn't call it free time, since there's always stuff to do.  But freeing up 2-3 hours a day gives you much more time to do stuff you need to do (cleaning and yard work), stuff you want to do (spend time with my family) and catch up on new TV shows you just started, such as The Sopranos, which may sneak into my top 5 all-time TV dramas.

2. You have to watch what you eat. Man, this is my biggest struggle.  When I'm running a lot, I just eat whatever.  Eating is a habit/hobby because I constantly snack throughout the day, whether I'm hungry or not. Food is fuel, right? Yeah, I get grief from some coworkers, being in I'm a school with only two male teachers and over 50 ladies and hear about how they wish they had my metabolism.  Rather than say, "you could if you ran over 100 miles a week", I just tell them I have to fuel the furnace.  But right now, the furnace is broken. I'm literally burning 1/2 as much calories a day than I was when I was running. But I still find myself in the constantly snacking habit, which has resulted in a few gained pounds and I went from having some abs slowly sneaking their way in to having them jiggle.  Since I should curb that as quickly as possible, I need to have the willpower to shut it down.  But being I'm a fat man in a skinny man's body, it's tough.  So I've resorted to eating more filling things like non-fried chicken and those things people call vegetables.  Maybe in the big picture, my injury will work out for the greater good because it will force me to eater cleaner, which will hopefully carryover to when I start running again. But I definitely learned that it's very hard to not gain weight when you're not exercising.  Two thousand calories isn't much food!

3. I'm pretty lazy. Sorry, no cross training for me.  If I tried, it would probably hurt my hip but even if it didn't, I just don't have that much motivation to head to the gym and sweat away on the elliptical machine.  Maybe one of those fancy ElliptiGO things would be fun but I'm not doing my cardio indoors.

4. Out of site, out of mind. In college, I would freak out while I was injured.  I constantly worried about how much fitness I was losing, how I would get back in shape, etc.  Now, I don't care as much.  Yeah, I felt like I was a couple months away from being in sub 63 half-marathon shape and taking some big scalps at the 25k Championships in May.  And since I'm a few months away from turning 33, I don't have very many peak spring racing seasons left. But life goes on and when training hard and running big races are temporarily out of the picture, I lose a lot of focus.  When I'm training hard, I'm training hard. Most of the time, I don't want to head out the door twice a day.  It's mentally draining and there's other things I'd rather be doing.  But I make myself because I understand each run has a purpose and if I slack off, my goals won't be met.  I live a busy life, so when running isn't a priority, I forget about it. Right now, I don't have much motivation to resume training and when I do, I'll start back over and build for the fall.  And this time, I won't race my marathon with a moronic race strategy.


  1. Enjoyed reading this. Your more laid back and patient attitude about injuries right now is a really good example. It's so easy to panic but ultimately it does no good, doesn't speed up recovery, and makes the whole process more unpleasant. I am trying to get better about chilling out :)

  2. That sucks man. Even though I've never truly had an injury for more than 4 days, I can totally sympathize with a lot of what you say. Cross training just to try to maintain fitness when you can't run sucks, and finding the motivation to go run after school when I am tired is so hard sometimes. And the eating thing...I am just like you there. The person with the biggest sweet tooth I know is probably myself; I just love carbs & sugar so much, and eating veggies is a pain because I can't cook & salad is lame.

    But seriously, your ability to make yourself work so hard while you are so busy is amazing. Making each run count has been the hardest thing for me in my experience because I am always tired after school and because of so many stressors/distractions like homework etc., and I'm sure your situation is probably worse than mine on those fronts.

    I know I said a lot here, but I just agree with you so strongly & see where you're coming from. Props to you man and good luck with getting healed up. It will be so cool to see what you do later when you're in shape and don't "race with a moronic strategy" haha. I wish you the best.

  3. I think laid back and patient can be code words for lazy. But you've come a long way the past year, Blair and I look forward to slacking from work so I can track your Boston race next Monday.

    Thanks Andrew. Just the high school grind is tough enough, especially without the running. Even though some days it's so much easier to sit on the couch or find reasons not to run, your goals won't happen if you do. I used to always tell my high school runners, that if they look for an excuse, they will find one. But I almost applied for the coaching opening at your school 3-4 years ago. Pretty funny.

  4. Glad to hear you're determinedly inching your way towards recovery, and finding perks along the way. Though it would really help the appreciation of those perks if the furnace wasn't acting up like it did. Well, we look forward to you getting back into the groove and running again, and hopefully had your furnace problems dealt with.

    George Ellsworth