Nearly 70 percent of runners will get injured at least once in their lives. While most running injuries are relatively minor, they can still be mentally and emotionally tough to cope with. For many, running is not only an important stress management tool, but it's often one of the only activities that gets protected "me time" in our busy schedules.
While losing the ability to run can be frustrating, there can be a silver lining if you approach your injury in the right way. Use the extra time on your hands productively, and you'll come back stronger than you were before the injury.
You may realize you're injured the moment it happens, but knowing exactly what kind of injury you've sustained can be another matter. It's important to get quickly and correctly diagnosed, because the recovery time and rehabilitation protocol can vary quite a bit depending on what's gone awry.
Once you know what your specific injury is, it's also important to find its true cause. It's easy to shrug and blame overtraining for your woes, but that's a pretty vague term that won't do much to help you avoid a repeat injury in the future. Spend some time going over your training log to determine whether you ramped up your mileage or intensity too quickly. Estimate how many miles you've put on the shoes you were wearing at the time of the injury, and start keeping an accurate log of shoe mileage going forward. Consider the running conditions on the day in question—Were you running on an unfamiliar surface (off-road, snow, ice, etc.)? Was it raining or snowing? Was it particularly cold or hot? By examining all of these potential factors, you can probably isolate one or two likely causes of the injury, making it easier to avoid a repeat injury in the future.
2. Make a New Plan
In the early days of your recovery, you might not be able to do much physically. But you can still up your running game by using this time to plan your post-injury training regimen.
If you discovered that your injury was due to an overly ambitious increase in mileage or that you were running too many miles at a fast pace, now's the time to carefully craft a post-injury program that takes a safer approach. First and foremost, this will require the patience to delay your return to running—if you try to return too soon, or try to catch up to where you would have been in your training plan, the chances for re-injury are high. This might also be a great time to seek out a running coach, either in person or online, who can help guide you safely back to peak running performance.