Mentally Recovering

Once your body fully physically heals, the next step is to mentally get back into the game. For me honestly, that has always been something I’ve struggled with. Physically I know my legs can slowly progress back into running but I have to find myself mentally first.


First, your body heals eventually. One reason I personally prefer bone breaks (versus muscle issues) is because I know with proper care and recovery a bone heals stronger. It takes time and patience but eventually you will come back and be back to where you were.  While this injury has taken far longer than I would have liked, I know I am recovering stronger.

My only other stress fracture was a tibia stress fracture.  The day I got my tibia stress fracture in July 2011, I could not walk. That stress fracture was caused by extremely poor training. I was running every run too fast and too hard. I’ll take ownership for that injury and everything is 20-20 in hindsight. I didn’t know what I was doing and as a newer runner, I got my first dose of reality. This was a dose I needed to progress as a runner. Your body is not is not unbreakable. If you don’t train smart you will face the reality of a serious running injury. I didn’t train smartly and faced the consequence.

As a new runner I had no idea what was going on with my body. All I really knew was I wanted to whine, cry and complain until the next day…then I did the same thing. I cried my way through 6 weeks of that injury.

When I woke up in August with a bruised and swollen foot, I had a sinking feeling of what it was. This time my mindset was different. It was weird because it didn’t happen during a run but a stress fracture was obvious to me. I told a coworker that day as I limped around; I knew what I was dealing with. I just didn’t know how it happened. That day continued as well as the weekend.  The world did not stop because I had a running injury.  My day did not stop and I had to continue my life as normal as possible.

By the time I knew it, it was Monday and I found myself with some free time to get to the doctors. The doctor confirmed I had a stress fracture. Life had moved on between that Friday and Monday and it wasn’t a shocking discovery. As an older and “more mature” runner, I had accepted I wouldn’t be running for a while. The idea of any running for a while was laughable.  The thought of a fall marathon went out the window about 3 minutes after waking up the previous Friday with a swollen foot.

I think that mindset propelled me through this injury. Life happens when you aren’t prepared.  There was nothing I could do that would make my stress fracture disappear in a day. I don’t have scientific research to prove it, I just know I’m recovering much quicker mentally. I’m ready to get back in the game. I’m ready to commit to a late winter or early spring race. I’m ready to reach goals that I know I’m capable of. I’m ready to live life back on the running edge. Mentally I have not fallen off the wagon and I know I will rise to the occasion when racing is in my sights again.

So how am I building back my confidence foundation?

First I’m documenting how I feel each day in a private notebook. I’m documenting how my foot feels physically and how I feel mentally. I’m noting little recoveries. Every week I’m reviewing them and realizing that while I might not notice day to day improvements, the overall picture is linear. I’ve seen minor speed bumps and hurdles but I’m slowly recovering and progressing in the right direction.

Second, I’ve said all along but I’m seaking the positive. The positive in injury recovery, the positive in life and the positive in me as a person. My life has never revolved around running. When I’m out of running, I’m doing other things. I’m staying busy with a fulfilled life. While running is a very big hobby of mine, I don’t need running to survive.  I don’t need blogging to survive, I have a collection of hobbies and activities I like to do.

Third, I’m not comparing myself to anyone including myself. I’m not comparing myself to those also recovering from an injury (this has been the hardest).  I’m not comparing myself to those training or anyone at all. I’m not comparing myself to a previous fitness level or to myself at all. I’m just staying at the present and living my life. The comparison game benefits no one.

Case and point: I’m certainly not running 70 mile weeks right now and I’m 100% happy with what I am running.  Running is a beautiful thing and running any injury free miles are better then none.

Do you remember back way long ago when you didn’t run to crush your PR’s, you ran because you wanted to be healthy? You don’t need to have a goal race right now because your goal is to come back stronger then ever. At least that’s how I look at it, I won’t get back to my peak fitness if I rush it right now.  Yesterday I ran with no watch, no GPS and no anything.  When I went to go track my run, I had forgotten the roads I ran on.  The only thing I knew was that I ran for 30 injury free minutes and I felt great about it.

Question for you: How do you get over injuries mentally?

21 thoughts on “Mentally Recovering”

  1. I’m not sure if I ever mentally get over injuries. To clarify, I no longer mope about but even when I am running healthy there is a lingering- how long will this last- feeling. Every little niggle leaves me with paranoia that it’s going to turn into something larger the next day. Not sure if that’s normal, but it’s how I’ve felt.

  2. I’m very proud of how you have been handling all of this and thing that you will def. come back stronger mentally and physically because of it.

    Getting over injuries isn’t easy. I think the biggest thing for me in the ones that I have had is focusing on what I CAN do and not what I CAN’T(Run). That really helped when I broke my foot a few years ago.

  3. It takes so much longer than the physical! Wrote a post about this a while ago. I was injured a year ago and mentally I’m just getting my confidence back, for me it took so long to mentally move past it. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my pre-injured mentality, but the one I have now is a lot wiser and will keep me healthier.

  4. After an injury I’m always so nervous to run again. It sucks because it’s like I lose the love for running when I start fearing the run. But after a while it comes back and with each injury I hope I learn something so that I’m a smarter and stronger runner.
    When I moan about running my dad is always quick to say to me “Anna, remember you do this for FUN. Make sure it is fun.” And he’s right. I’m not an elite and this isn’t my livelihood so taking things slow to get back into running after being injured is the best approach. To learn to love it again!

  5. Thank you for writing this! I’m taking a break from running to prevent a sore foot turning into a stress fracture and I’m trying to practice what you’re talking about – focusing on the positives and enjoying more time for my other non-running hobbies. I know that taking the time off now and building up slowly is what I need to do for my future health.

    1. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the short term but long term is much more important. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  6. Paying attention to how you’re feeling physically and mentally is super important as an athlete. In my running log, my coach has me track things like water intake and hours of sleep, plus anything notable about my run or day in general. Taking note of these factors helps me see what works in terms of big-picture goals.

  7. I think what helped me survive my broken foot was focusing on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t. This is a LOT easier as a triathlete than a runner, of course, but I was still able to bike up to about 90% effort without pain, pool run, do some limited strength training, and swim (pushing off the walls with one foot LOLZ). That’s a whole lot of triathlon-specific work I was able to do to keep myself in shape without jeopardizing my healing, and kept me feeling like I was being productive.

    As a pure runner, it would probably be harder. Pool running just isn’t the same as real running.

  8. So awesome that you ran 30 minutes! I think the first few runs back, after an injury are the best! I’m always so excited to be allowed to run again, and to be pain free, that I’m giddy the entire run.

    1. Ha! It’s funny you say that, I always think the first few runs after an injury are the worst. I always question myself as a runner and really look at each individual run and how each body part really feels!

  9. “The comparison game benefits no-one” – as a pregnant and post-op runner at the moment I think this should be a life motto in general! Love it!!

  10. I find other ways to get my adrenaline rush. I cross-train, I marathon window-shop, I see a musical that inspires me. I try to be positive. Congrats on the 30 minutes! I bet it felt great. Part of the beauty of having an injury is the build up of strength and watching your running improve so fast. Good luck!

  11. Baby steps. So many baby steps. I also constantly remind myself that my knee will probably never be normal again so I need to be careful. As I’m reading this I am laying in bed having a small pity party for my knee and ankle. I’ve had a few awesome months of running and my parts are starting to go on me. It is incredibly frustrating. So yea, baby steps, one day at a time, and one run at a time.

  12. Well said my friend! For me it just takes time and being kind to myself. After returning to running post-injury I was so deep hearted grateful to be running pain free that I ditched the remainder of my running goals for the year and focused on getting stronger and truly enjoying the experience of running. How’s that working for me? My last half was one of my best race experiences ever! Boom!

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