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The Upsides To Being Injured
Are you new here?
Allow me to brief you: I am Ali.
My daily intention is to write about running. I friggin’ love running. Currently, however, I seem to be slightly injured. I have this hip thing, and this shin thing, and I’ve finally recognized that these “things” are not, in fact, things I should “just push through.” So the running chatter is at a minimum right now. You should stick around, though, because I may be a bit broken but I’m still super psyched about life.
Why could I possibly love life when I’m not starting my day with sweaty loops of the Reservoir?
Well, it turns out there is a world beyond Central Park, and even though I’d much rather be throwing down some miles than icing my shin and doing yoga, I am finding a few ways that being injured has actually been good for me.
OMG so positive. It’s the best way to live. Promise. Try it.
So now let me tell you about those ways in which being injured is the worst thing ever but is also not the end of my world.
I’m finally resting. Write this down: Yesterday I took a rest day. A real, legitimate rest day. Not an “I’m resting today but by that I mean I’m going to spinning but I promise I won’t turn the resistance up too high.” Not a rest day with “five slow miles.” Nope. A rest day where I took good care of myself and let my body start to truly recover. I did do a little Yoga On Demand, but it was something like 20 minutes long and I was clearly more concerned with getting pretty (pretty awkward) photos for proof than actually maneuvering into Downward Dog.
I spent a lot of time yesterday stretching, foam rolling, Stick-ing the heck out of my legs and generally just relaxing.
I actually brought gym clothes to work yesterday, but when I left the office to head to spin class, I thought better of it. I knew a rest day would help me more than spinning, and so I went to Home Depot instead, definitely did not stop at Lululemon to buy a new outfit (someone told me that’s what you’re supposed to do when you can’t run — I don’t remember who, but maybe it was Ghandi…yes, it was definitely Ghandi, God of Sweat and New Outfits), and then went home to eat a nutritious dinner of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and multiple brownies…with whipped cream.
And I stretched more and stuff, and iced my leg.
Then I Googled things like, “Can you die from shin splints?” and “The difference between shin splints and a stress fracture” and “What is the ideal amount of time to microwave a brownie for optimal warmth and gooeyness?”
And then I went to sleep, and then I woke up this morning with the intention of going to the gym for a spin class.
But then I went back to sleep instead.
See how good I am at resting now?! Ali On The Bed. Ali On The Couch.
I got some extra sleep and then stretched, iced and did Ultimate Glutes On Demand. It was intense. Eight whole minutes of bum-squeezing activity.
So yeah. I’m resting. I’m taking it easy. I’m not setting foot on the Bridle Path again until I’m sure it’s the right thing to do. Yesterday will mark one week without running and while that makes me sad, it also makes me think that I’ll be able to run much longer in life because I took it easy for a few days.
Please pat me on the back now for making such mature decisions.
Now please stop rolling your eyes.
I’m spending ample time in my apartment. I’m in this new place and it would be a shame if I spent all my time elsewhere, right? I like being home. I like that it feels like home. I like my roommate. It’s a fun place to hang out. Come over sometime.
I’m completely crushing my To Do list. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish when I’m not spending all my time cruising along East Drive! I’m getting caught up on overdue doctor’s appointments, sending overdue emails and actually crossing things off. High five!
I’m so much cleaner. Normally I wake up, I run, I realize I’m pressed for time, I shower super fast and then I do something ugly with my hair and attempt to get to work on time. But now? I have all the time in the world in the morning. I have now blow dried my hair two days in a row. Today I even straightened it and wore a dress to work. So not only am I really really fancy, I am also clean. You’re welcome, coworkers and people standing near me on the subway.
I can focus on other areas. Ever since Coach Cane first mentioned that my various injuries could be a result of “weak glutes,” I’ve focused on toning up that particular area, among others. I’m trying to keep weight off my legs as much as possible (good thing I can fly), but I still like being active. So I’m lifting.
I’m planking. I’m crunching. I’m yoga-ing. I’m tricep dipping. I’m attempting to get all jacked up and buff so the rest of my body is strong enough to support my eventual, glorious return to running.
I’m making new friends. Specifically the Fitness On Demand guys.
They are peachy, though our conversations are a little one-sided. I ask Mr. Ultimate Abs how his day was, and his response is always the same: “8 more counts!” That doesn’t even make sense. That doesn’t describe a day.
I never thought I’d be one for at-home workouts, and I typically hate fitness videos. But these little On Demand discoveries are only 8–30 minutes long, and they target specific areas, and I can modify stuff, and I can do them without wearing a bra if I so desire.
So thank you, On Demand, for being free and convenient and surprisingly fun. For now.
I’m catching up on sleep. I can typically function just fine on five hours a night. But without morning runs, I get an extra hour or so, and it’s quite nice. I also get to see the sunrise from the comfort of my own bed, and you know how much I like sunrises.
Honestly, as much as I would have rather run than sleep this morning, it did feel really good to crawl back into bed and get some extra horizontal time. I woke up later feeling far more refreshed and ready to start my day. I usually get that feeling from running and sweating and kicking my own butt, but I guess this is the next best thing.
I’m gaining perspective. Being hurt sucks. I’m constantly panicking that I’m done running forever, that they’re not shin splints but rather the onset of a stress fracture, and I just miss my regular routine of being out running and then forcing people to listen to me talk about each mile and each split and how every single step felt. That’s the way I like to live, and it’s frustrating that my body has its own evil little plan that’s preventing me from doing what I want.
But being without running — even though it’s only been six days that feel like a lifetime — has forced me to take a look at my life and evaluate all the things that are good and that make me happy beyond running. Though I’m trying to ease up on the workouts in general, there’s still plenty I can do, like those fancy On Demand workouts, and upper body stuff, and even spinning, which the doctor said was fine “as long as it doesn’t hurt” (it doesn’t).
I still have everything else in life that’s going just fine, and I know I can’t let my lack of running erase all that from my brain.
I still have a cool apartment that I’m excited about.
I still have friends who let me complain about not running and continue to GChat me day after day.
I still live in the best city ever.
On the first day that I couldn’t run, I was devastated. I freaked out and was all, “Woe is me, my life is over, I’m a whiny brat” (whiny brat part still kind of true). Having never been injured before, I didn’t really know what to do. But now that I’m a few days into the recovery process, I realize that while running is a huge, amazing part of my life, it’s not the only thing that defines me.
Without running, I’d be super sad. But the past few days have taught me a lot about my body and what it can handle as well as about my overall outlook toward running, exercise and mental and physical health.
I’m basically a philosopher now. I have all the wisdom.
And by the way, the ideal amount of time to microwave a brownie is 30 seconds. Any longer, you’ll burn your tongue right off. Any less and the middle won’t be fully warmed.
Now you know.
AND TELL ME MORE: Ever been injured? Tell me every single thing you learned from the experience. Let me learn from you.