Runners fear injury just like any other athletes, but the impact of just one single injury on confidence and resilience can be hugely impactful. A May 2020 study published by Plos One concluded that good mental resilience is a factor in good post-injury recovery and return to previous personal standards, but that the opposite led to a reduction in overall life-long performance post-injury. It follows that having a positive approach to running following injury recovery (or time out for any other reason) is crucial to hitting new heights. This process starts with getting your body back into one that’s fit for the road.
Getting in good shape
Enthusiasts of any one sport or athletic pursuit will often exclusively seek to enjoy that sport. For runners, this is highly detrimental and can lead to slower recovery associated with lower overall rates of fitness. According to the National Library of Medicine, runners who did not replace running with some other form of physical activity – whether that be gentle work like walking or swimming or callisthenics – were more likely to become reinjured.
Look to maintain and extend your physical fitness through injury, and then get back into fitness once you’re recovered. Choose a diet and exercise plan, stick to it, and make sure you’re measuring your progress. A tough part of this is retaining motivation, and that’s fine. Finding out what your why will help you in establishing how to get back into shape and is a crucial part of the recovery process and reclaiming your enthusiasm.
Finding your motivator
Many people who experience injury find themselves in a rut. The lack of fitness severely impacts your ability to run for as long as you did previously, your pain tolerance will be lower, and you generally feel out of sorts. It’s helpful to do an exercise in finding what motivated you to run in the first place.
Was it getting fit? Did you lose weight through running? Perhaps it was good for your mental health, or you experience the runners high and enjoyed that experience. Sit down and have a really good think about why running works for you and makes you ‘tick’ – this is a necessary step in finding top performance again.
Putting it into action
Once you’ve regained fitness and found what motivates you, it’s time to build a growth and positive mindset. It’s important to have a really good grounding in your mental health, as, believe it or not, there are issues that can impact your wellbeing once back out and running. A study conducted by the University of South Australia found this, noting that runners were exhibiting symptoms close to addiction with regards to the runners high – and that this was impacting injury recovery. Simply put, the chasing of that enjoyable rush was causing overexertion for many runners. Take it slow, take it easy, and one run at a time.
Piece it all together, and you’ll soon be feeling your mojo coming back to you. Running is a wonderful type of athletic activity to pick up, but it has its perils. Always approach injury and recovery with a steady hand and you’ll do right by yourself.