5 Ways to Cope With Injury and Illness

Right after the author broke her leg skiing in Snowshoe, WV Photo: Corey Bishop

Just when your training was as smooth as buttercream frosting, your workouts as regular as a circadian rhythm, your muscles toned and agile, disaster strikes: a pulled muscle, tweaked knee, stress fracture, illness.

Endurance athletes are more prone to injury for many reasons, including overuse, over-commitment, overexertion, over-everything. But here are some upsides to the chink in your armor and some tips for making it through what ails you:

More: Runner's Guide to Injury Treatment

Tip No.1: Getting to Know You

If you are a mono-sport athlete, it's likely you're only familiar with the muscles used to train everyday. During recovery, try pilates, yoga, dance, Tai Chi and other low impact workouts help strengthen your body from head to toe while teaching new and fun ways to build strength, agility, breathing and balance. Once back in the saddle, you'll be more in tune with your body.

Tip No.2: Longer Days (Sort of)

Fewer or no workouts at all introduce new hours in your day. Use them. Sleep in, spend time with family and friends, discover new haunts in town, volunteer, or learn a new skill.

More: Ankle-Injury Recovery

Tip No.3: Patience

Serious injury or illness is often accompanied by negative thoughts while you and the couch become one. But, in the end, you'll likely gain patience and humility.

Consider this: A stress fracture or sprain could put you on crutches, which means walking (or hobbling) slower, counting on folks to open doors for you and hold your stuff, and maybe even asking someone else to walk your dog. This isn't only a lesson in patience, but also in rediscovering human kindness.

Tip No.4: Appreciation for Your Sport

In Pointe magazine, Stella Abrera, a soloist with the American Ballet Theater, wrote: "Before (my injury), I had faith in my body to simply do the movement; now I'm more analytical.

My moments of abandon now give me greater joy. It may sound clich?d, but I appreciate dancing more now that I know it can be taken away from me at any moment."

More: Rekindle Your Love of Running

Tip No.5: Go All In

Milk it for all it's worth. Ice cream and movies, anyone?

Sure, injuries and illness are a huge bummer. They can leave you $50 in the hole for missing a race, be extremely painful or exhausting, or may strip away your pride for a while.

But only for a while...

More: 10 Tips for Injury-Free Running

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Colorado Springs Endurance Sports Examiner Becca Bishop is a former collegiate cross country runner, who runs mid-distance races in and around Colorado. Her writing has appeared in several publications including The Roanoke Times, Birmingham Magazine, and The Open Society Institute's Youth Media Reporter. She is pursuing her CPT from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and teaches dance in Colorado Springs.

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