Ahhh, yes. Running injuries. They range from hip to quadriceps issues to hamstring annoyances to knee or calf pain and everything in between. Injuries can not only be a physical battle but a mental test as well. Here are some suggestions to help you better cope with your injury both mentally and physically.
There are many types of yoga that can be of great benefit to an injured runner. One type of yoga that can help strengthen muscles is known monastically as Vinyasa yoga. In this style of yoga, the yogi is asked to hold a certain pose for a duration then fluidly move into the next pose all while focusing on the breath. It is taught that the poses are secondary to the breath and that maintaining a consistent breath is the fundamental goal of yoga. It is by no means easy. You may find your mind wandering away from the breath towards thoughts of pain from holding the pose or towards future activities that you may have planned for later that day and that’s okay. This is known as our monkey minds. When we aren’t engaged in an activity our mind finds things to keeps us busy usually by replaying past events or trying to predict the future. When this happens, the yogi is asked to redirect their focus back on the breath.
Another style of yoga that can be of great importance is Yin yoga. This monastic practice utilizes the same fundamental basis of vinyasa yoga, the breath, but asks the yogi to hold the poses for a longer duration of time. While both practices incorporate the breath as their focus of attention, yin yoga is used as a restorative practice whereas vinyasa yoga is practiced to strengthen the muscles. I suggest following a delightful and highly knowledgeable Youtube couple, Breathe and Flow, for copious amounts of meditation and yoga knowledge. You can also subscribe to their Patreon account for even more videos that are longer in duration and include a handstand program, advanced yoga programs, mobility, guided mediations, retreat information, and live Q &A’s. It’s pretty amazing what you can find on the interweb these days.
Ah, yes. The art of sitting with one's self. More commonly known as meditation. Most of us can’t bear to do it, however, the ones that are able to know the benefits you can achieve from calming the mind. The question is, however, do we have to solely sit to meditate and achieve these higher levels of consciousness? The answer, surprisingly, is no. We can sustain attention in any activity with the proper disciple and practice, the keyword here being practice and a lot of it. Condition the mind will help conquer the long runs when your mind is telling you to quit and give up, however, you know there is more in the tank. Harnessing this type of mental discipline will fortify the strength needed to run on the fumes of fumes when exhausting is the only word to describe what you’re feeling.
Cross-training to add strength for running runs is critical. There is no way around this. Our bodies are amazing for one simple, yet complex, reason: adaptability. However, this adaptability can lead to larger projects to overcome if the incorrect muscles are being activated when carrying our loads. This happens due to our bodies adapting to the circumstances in which it recruits alternative muscle groups that aren’t normally used to get the job done. As a result, our form to go crap, and an injury can arise. Strength training can eliminate this process to lead to a stronger and more efficient you.
Opportunity to Diversify Yourself
When I first became injured I felt an overwhelming panic. I had never been injured before and up until this point, I was able to lift weights, run, or bike at my convenience. However, when an injury came about I was forced to slow down, which my mind didn’t like. Over the years, I had taught myself to wake up and go, to get things done, and not waste any time of the day. This held fast by the mantras like,
“life is a series of choices and time is treasure”
“make a decision and don’t look back”
It was tough to acknowledge and accept that I was injured. I kept questioning what the future would hold. I had sleepless nights and terror attacks at times and found myself an anxious mess. I didn’t sleep well, in part due to the amount of energy I had from not working out, but also because of the ruminating thoughts about what the future had in store for me if I was unable to continue on the endurance path. This pattern of questioning and failing to accept what was lasted a few weeks. It was until I accepted that I indeed was injured that I saw the opportunity within the situation. As mental doors began to open, I learned how to diversify myself by dispersing unused energy appropriately which yielded efficiency. I was now able to focus my attention on others areas that pique my interest without having to rely on endurance as my sole motivator in life. Because of this I felt more in control and was able to comprehend that, no matter what happened, everything was going to be okay.
Being injured is said to be emotionally and physically enduring, but it doesn’t have to be if we have an open mind and a willingness to learn. Shifting our mind from an all or nothing perspective, “I’ll never be able to run AGAIN!!”, too, “well maybe I can put a little energy here or a little energy there” type of thinking will lessen the mental strain on our bodies. Whatever it is that you choose to do remember your self-worth isn’t determined by external forces (ie getting to the finish line first, running the longest distance, or being the best), it’s determined by how you react to situations when your emotions are tested. Best of luck on your recovery and see you on pavement or trail in time.