5 Ways to Avoid Going Batshit Crazy When Injured


It's been two weeks since I hit a jump on my mountain bike, flew over the handlebars, cracked my helmet, and was diagnosed with a Grade III AC Shoulder Separation. As injuries go, it could have been way worse. Luckily, my running hasn't been severely affected, and I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and the light is closer and brighter than I assumed it would be two weeks ago when I felt a bone stick out of my shoulder where there should be no bone.

My running practice calms me and without it, I tend to get antsy, and yes, even after a couple of inactive days I start to go a little batshit crazy. For the sake of my marriage, work, and family, I came up with five ways to help me cope with the temporary running layoff.

Either the flash was really bright or the painkillers are working

1. Work at recovery. I received many kind emails and messages from readers when I posted about the accident. Some of the best words of advice were passed on by Sarah, who received them when she was dealing with a broken foot. She wrote, "be as dedicated and serious about your recovery as you are about your training." My main focus over the past few months has been on training for the San Diego 100 Miler in June. My main focus after the injury is still on the SD100, but it became more focused on losing as little fitness as possible through the recovery process. I emailed Tim and asked him to send me some good stationary bike trainer workouts. I flipped the handlebars over on my bike, making it easier to reach them and support myself with one arm. This was uncomfortable and it sucked, but it worked and I was able to get some sweat-puddle inducing, teeth gritting, quad burning rides in. I also started hiking. I hiked with the dog, with my kids, and by myself. I searched out the steeper trails in the area and pushed hard up them, not running hard, but hiking hard, which isn't much easier.

2. Review your schedule and set new goals. I looked at my schedule and started modifying, crossing things off, and adding things for the future. Gone is the PCT 50, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, and I shortened this weekend's Joshua Tree traverse to a Joshua Tree 20-25 miler. I added a possible Mt. Baldy 50K, a second attempt at the 8,000 Meter Challenge, Napa Ultra Ragnar, and an ascent of San Gorgonio with Sanam, Jess and Nata. These will be later this year, hopefully after I am fully healed (from the shoulder and from the SD100)

3. Focus on other areas of your life. I used some of the suddenly found time that I would have been training working on some projects that had been stacking up and spending more time with my family. I try not to let the time I spend running interfere with my family life, but as the races and training gets longer, the time has to come from somewhere. So, over the past couple of weeks I've tried to bank some family time.

Running helps center me, and without this practice in my life, I needed to find a temporary replacement. Coincidentally, a publisher had just sent me a book to review. The book is called Running With the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and it is excellent (look for a more detailed review later). I decided to meditate more, a habit that I used to enjoy, but has slipped in the past few years. I can't adequately describe what this practice does for me, but it is healthy, cleansing, and I need to do it more.

4. Stay connected to the sport. I ignored Facebook, or at least I tried. With the majority of my friends being runners, it seems that someone is always planning some epic, beautiful, exhilerating run to end all runs. I would get invites for 30 mile runs in the mountains, a 50K entry would free up, a group was doing a 3,000 burpee challenge (well, that one was a little easier to ignore), and everyone was posting beautiful pictures from the mountains. As runners, we can't do everything, so I did my best to ignore the posts and the pictures from my friends. Although I did read blogs, magazines, and I watched videos to get the running fix. Some of the best stuff I read were from other injured runners at the end of their healing journeys. I was inspired by Cindy's comeback 10k. She has been dealing with Achilles injuries as long as I have known her and it seems that she has finally found a working solution, at least good enough to thrown down a 38 something at her first 10K in months. I also read Christian's account of his parasite and his recovery and figured if he could go through something that serious, I could manage a shoulder with a few torn ligaments and a beautiful Rigoletto-esque lump.

5. Push the limits. I'm not a doctor and this may not be the best advice for other (especially running-related injuries), and this is sort of what got me into this mess in the first place, but when my doctor told me I could run as long as I could handle the pain, I took this as green light to train. Listen to your doctor or your PT and don't sue me for saying this, but we're runners, and as runners, we're a determined group and not very smart. Everyone stresses rest when injured or overtrained, but I have yet to meet a runner who follows his or her own advice. So, I ran. I hurt afterward, but I ran hard with the bones bouncing loosely in my shoulder and I'd stop when they felt like they were grinding against each other. The duration of these runs stretched from a 20 minute jog a week ago to today's 90 minute run where I thought of the San Diego 100, knowing that just starting the race will be a small victory, but I visualized myself crossing the finish line, probably in a sling, with one hand raised in triumph. It was a good run.

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