4 Ways to Stay Positive Through Injuries

Injury Upside No.3: You Come Back With Care

Easing back into training slowly and surely means you gradually increase pace and distance—a practice that can help you build mileage even when you're healthy. "This lesson is crucial, because there will be times in your life when you abandon your training—like after a stressful month at work or after taking the winter off," says Larry Frieder, a chiropractor who works with world-class runners and triathletes in Boulder, Colorado.

The Takeaway

When you're returning to running, start with an easy workout. For example, if you used to run for an hour, run for 20 minutes instead. Slow your pace by a minute per mile, and take walk breaks as needed. Then, track how you feel in the next 24 hours. Feel great? Continue to build from where you started. Feel sore? Stick with the easy workout until it feels comfortable.

More: 3 Keys Runners Can Use to Stay Injury Free

Injury Upside No.4: Nixing Negativity

 When you're injured, it's easy to let your thoughts spiral downward. "You're allowed to feel bad for a few days—but then you have to cope with your situation," says Kirsten Peterson, a senior sports psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs.

"Learning how to put a positive spin on a bad situation will help you through rehab. And later, that skill will be useful when you hit a rough patch in a run or race."

The Takeaway

To control negative thoughts, notice when they arise and stop them right away. To do this, touch your sports watch and imagine hitting a reset button, says Erica S. Howard, a mental skills coach in Oceanside, California. "Use this to stop negativity and to start positive thinking," she says.

So if you're climbing a hill, and you start obsessing over how slow you're going, hit reset. Then switch your focus to how strong your hamstrings feel as they carry you up the incline.

More: 5 Ways to Train Through the Pain

Runner's Rehab (Exercises to Make the Most of Downtime)

"You have to prepare your body for the activity you want to get back to," says Annie O'Connor, a physical therapist in Chicago. "These exercises build leg, core, and rotational strength—crucial components of good running form." Of course, check with your doctor to make sure these are safe for you.

Exercise No.1: Power Runner

Stand with hands behind your head. Lift your left knee and bring your right elbow forward. Return to the starting position, tap your left toe on the ground, and power back up. Repeat for 15 seconds (progress to a minute) and switch sides. Vary speeds—slow one day, fast the next.

Exercise No.2: Reverse Lunge With a Twist

Take a step back with your left leg, lunging down while turning your torso right. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do five on each side. Gradually build reps (and then add weights) as you feel stronger.

Exercise No.3: Plank to Side Bridge

Start in a plank position, supporting yourself on your forearms. Turn your body by pivoting on your feet and shifting to one arm. Hold for 10 seconds, return to plank, alternate sides. Repeat six to 10 times.

Exercise No.4: High-Knee Skipping

Find an open space and start skipping, thrusting your arms and knees upward. Do this for 15 seconds, progressing to one-minute intervals. (Note: This exercise is for patients who are far along in their healing process and are preparing to resume running.)

More: 5 Injury-Prevention Stretches for Runners

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