Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Psychological Effects of A Running Injury

 I have read that 82% of all runners get injured. None of us ever think that it will happen to us. This is my take on what happens when it does. ** Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on running injuries, I just know how my recent injury affected me. I want to share that experience with you.

Last fall, I was finally starting to feel confident about my running. I was racing hard and pushing myself to run faster. I ran a half in mid October without major issues. 2 weeks later, I ran the Tulsa Run 15K. It was cold that morning. The course was flat for the most part with a long hill at the finish. For some reason, I have more trouble with flat courses than I do with hilly ones. I ran out fast, way too fast. By the halfway turn around I was hurting but I kept going. At mile 6, I saw a friend who was watching the race. I asked her for advil, she didn't have any :( I told her I wasn't sure I could finish. But I did. This was probably the beginning of my injury. 3 weeks later, I ran the Route 66. I did the first 2 legs of the marathon relay. I wanted to get to the relay exchange at a decent time and I was feeling good that morning, so again, I pushed myself. I had blisters on both feet but I got there at 1:50 which was amazing for me! I went on to finish the last 2.5 miles of the half marathon after I handed off the chip. I got a PR of 2:29 that day despite the blisters. I was still feeling good after the race and stayed to watch my relay team and friends finish. By mid afternoon, my IT band was tight; it was painful to walk but I thought I could "shake it off".

I wasn't going to race again for a while, but I was convinced to run a half with my husband and friends 3 weeks later. I wasn't really mentally prepared for that race. At approximately mile 3, I knew it was going to be a rough go. My IT band/knee was hurting so badly. I ran as much as I could and walked when I had to. I ended up walking most of this race from the turn around back to the finish. I thought about crawling......literally! I even thought about stopping and in retrospect, I should have. But I willed myself to finish. I took it easy the rest of the month and thought that rest would take care of it.

Spring half marathon training started in early January. I went out with my group on the first day but couldn't even make it 5 miles! I was angry and discouraged! I continued to nurse the injury for the month of January but it wasn't getting any better and I was beginning to think that I wouldn't run again. I was losing hope. Then, I decided to go see a chiropractor, who specializes in sports medicine and injuries. He treats many runners including several of my friends. He immediately got down to the root of the problem and I quickly saw progress. The most important thing that he did for me was give me hope that I would be running again.

He diagnosed me with a leg length discrepancy and weak glute/hip muscles resulting in medial collapse. He gave me a cork lift for my shoe, did ART (active release technique), dry needling, and kinesio taping. He taught me exercises to strengthen my weak stabilizer muscles and correct my gait/form issues. I also had my gait reanalyzed at Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa and it was determined that I needed a stability shoe. I got a pretty sweet pair of Brooks Ravenna that I affectionately call my "magic shoes" Additionally, I started doing yoga and foam rolling every day, even if I wasn't really hurting. Gradually, the pain began to resolve and I was able to increase my distance.

All this time, I was trapped in the "injury cycle" I would try to run then I would have pain. Eventually, the fear set in. I was afraid to run because I was afraid it would hurt and I would re injure myself. I was becoming depressed and losing confidence FAST! Now, even though I have made some corrections and am able to run longer distances without pain, I'm still a little nervous about my upcoming half. The most I have run up to this point is 10 miles. My coaches think I can do the 13.1 and I know in the back of my mind that I can. I still have a little sniggling of doubt. Hopefully I can get over that before Saturday. I just need to take a little bit of my own medicine and trust my training.

Have you ever had a running injury??

How did it affect you??


  1. I have had many including PF, tendonitis in the knee and Achilles, and a meniscal repair surgery.

    I just take the time off if I need to, visit the chiropractor and heat stretch every morning. I also had a podiatrist make inserts and recommend running shoes.

    I look forward to long life of running! Good luck.

  2. I had plantar fasciitis two years ago and that was probably the worst injury so far. It really did mess with my head. I have such a hard time taking the time off that I need to after a major race. I like to think I can just resume training for the next race the next day.

    1. I have the same problem, Christy. I'm impatient!! :-)

  3. I tore my meniscus a few weeks ago, and it's really messing with my head! I was training for my first half marathon (OKC Memorial marathon), and it's so hard to just stop when you have a goal in mind. It feels like I'm quitting, although I know I'm not. I don't know how long it will take to heal (going back to the doctor for an MRI in a month if it still hurts). I've lost a lot of confidence, though I'm still trying to keep up my endurance with the elliptical. I've also been doing some hip strengthening exercises every other day to hopefully avoid other injuries when I start back up. I think I will try to find a chiropractor who specializes in sports medicine, as you did.

    I really enjoy your blog, Theresa. I'm so glad I found it! It was just what I needed, right when I needed it.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jennifer. When you have the ok from the doctor to bear weight, find a pool!! You can still run in the pool. The water will make you bouyant so that you're not stressing the injury and will also provide resistance. You'll rehab faster. My exercise physiologist friend highly recommends it. Having to readjust your goal is furstrating, I know all too well, but hang in there. Try not to lose faith, you will rehab and run again! Find some upper body workout you like to do for a release.Jillian Michaels recommends boxing/punching for cardio with a lower body injury. Keep me posted. And I'll be thinking of you when I run my leg of the OKC Memorial Marathon relay.

    2. I will definitely look into pool running and upper body cardio, that's a great idea. Thank you for your encouragement! Good luck with the relay!!