When You’re Injured…You Learn Things…

Keeping with thinking out loud this week,  I decided to group a bunch of random thoughts together.  This time they were not my own but advice I gathered from my facebook page.  

In yesterday’s post,  I asked myself (not out loud…that would be awkward) but asked myself: What have I learned from being injured?  Not just my previous injury but from all of my injuries…

This past week I reached out to people online…

What did you learn while being injured (and what injury)? 

Josh F: Not ignoring an injury just because it doesn’t affect you WHILE you run. If it hurts badly afterward, it needs taken care of. (This is something I think a lot of runners, including myself, struggle with.

Marie P: I’ve learned to be patient with the comeback. Don’t boost miles too quickly and don’t expect your speed to be back within a few months even when your base is built up again. Speed takes longer to return than endurance.

Marie and I
Marie and I.  Marie has been one of the best supporters and friends I have had since the very beginning of my running career.

Run Buzz: Most injuries are caused, have warning signs and “just don’t happen”. Most can be prevented, but our own stubborness often gets the best of us. Also, just like a car…. “We need preventative maintenance. Flexibility, Mobility, Deep Tissue Massage”

Courtney A: I learned that running doesn’t define me. I also learned that I’m more dedicated and resilient than I realized. Also, I discovered the importance of strength training.

Running doesn't define us...we met doing an open water swim!
Running doesn’t define us…we met doing an open water swim!

Mike D (my favorite twinning running race partner): Heal drops are the only thing that helps bad Achilles.

At Shamrock this year.
At Shamrock this year.

Jennifer B: I learned it’s not the end of the world to take a day off because you’re hurt. I learned the sun will still rise if I skip one run. But most importantly I learned that I can survive taking six weeks off and come out stronger and faster than ever before! (Something I’ve learned too. I have come back stronger from every single injury I’ve had as well Jennifer).

Andrew R: I had a torn achilles last year during a trail run while speed training. I realized that I really am human.

Victoria K. Anderson Pool run like a boss.

Oh m gosh, kicking old school in 2011 with a photo of Victoria, Jenn and I
Oh m gosh, kicking old school in 2011 with a photo of Victoria, Jenn and I

Kennedy R: During my three stress fractures and compartment syndrome, I learned that any run is better than not being able to run.

Craig B: Sometimes injuries take a very long time to heal. And sometimes they are not superficial. Sometimes they require so much attention, they require no attention at all.

MyPat B: I’ve learned a greater patience. I’ve learned so much about my injuries that I should be in the medical field. I’ve learned about cross training. And I’ve learned that you can make many conversations and friends with an injury. (You and I both Pat. I don’t think I would survive medical school though).

Angela D: My most recent issue with my toe and heel! I learned that life exists outside of running and also that unfamiliar running shoes should not be bought on sale! Only buy sale shoes if you have previously worn them and or know for certain they won’t destroy your feet. Aside from these things….over the many years I’ve been running I’ve learned that I am not invincible or special and I too can get injured so I need to take precaution and recovery properly between runs.

I completely agree with Angela. Running shoes should only be bought if you have fine research and at least tried them on. New shoes can cause serious damage if you are unfamiliar with them!

Camelia M: I learned to never ever run again through an Achilles tendon injury. By doing so I had sacrificed 4 years of training and ended up having two surgeries on the same tendon.

Amy Scott-Lundy: I learned not to push recovery. I had to take a few unexpected days off occasionally, especially when I was just coming back to running. Better to take a day off if something doesn’t feel right, than to run and have to take more weeks off.

Another big thing was getting my gait reanalyzed at a running store. Maybe this is more important if you actually injure a foot, which I did, but my running shoes of choice have changed. (And don’t wear the old shoes after you get reanalyzed- the sides of my legs were hurting like crazy from the stability… donation bin!! )

I agree completely with Amy. Always make sure you are running in proper shoes (Running store nerd alert).

Rebecca B: I feel like I have FINALLY learned to take time off when something is starting to bother me before it morphs into a full blown injury.

Karen R: Through IT band issues, I learned how much running really does for me – mind, body, and soul. I chose a very conservative approach to returning to running, one that had no room for ego. It takes discipline to go out and run a marathon, but it takes way more to increase your runs by 1 minute at a time!

Kara T: I am currently coming back from “self-imposed” time off from running due to some lingering heel/calf muscle issues. Taking time off from running is Soooo hard! However, I’m finally embracing pilates, spin, and strength/form drills! I’m seeing the importance of hip strength and core fitness. Injury has taught me to listen to my body and take a “Less is More” approach. I’ve been able to step outside of my comfort zone- “of just running” and make time for the other exercises my body needs.

I appreciate everyone who contributed facts you’ve learned. Hopefully it will help someone else in those shoes. Each person, injury, running and training plan is different.  I love hearing about what other people have learned from injuries.  

Questions for you:

What have you learned from a more serious injury? 

Have you ever taken time off just for a mental break? 


  1. Love all of these! And I agree with so many. I still struggle with taking enough time off of running to avoid an injury, but I’ve gotten better. Also the first one is huge – not taking something seriously if it doesn’t affect you while running. This is a big thing for me and one way I deny that something bothers me!

  2. Its okay to withdraw from a race even if you already paid for it. I ran a half-marathon while dealing with runner’s knee because I didn’t want to waste my money. I ended up wasting months and money getting injury-free.

    1. I agree with that completely Ange and I wish more people thought that! Sometimes you sign up for a race and get injured. A did not show, is not a big deal. Would you rather not show for a race and avoid a serious injury? I know I always would.

  3. All great points. I always think it’s best to take that extra rest day before it’s forced upon you (and usually for longer) later on…

  4. Very cool take on this one hun! I always enjoy hearing what other people do/think about running injuries, and I could not agree more with run buzz…most injuries don’t just happen and we have to be smart enough to know when to take a break to prevent them. I’ve definitely taken time off when I wasn’t in it mentally…anytime I spend a week or more dreading the idea to go out for a run, I know it’s time to reevaluate what’s going on in life to make me feel that way. Running is me time and something I usually do for fun/to enjoy it. When I don’t, that’s a problem, and I need to figure out how to fix it before I go nuts. If that means I take some extra days off or just go fun running for a week so be it! I never want running to become something I hate

  5. Thank you for using my submission, Hollie, and I love that you asked everyone on Facebook. Most runners have dealt with an injury at one point or another and learned something from it!

    I definitely think it’s cool to take a mental break! Training is VERY mental. I learned that when I was injured, as much as I hated being injured, the first 7-10 days I did not miss running. I took a 4 day break after my last 10K race and plan to a few days off this winter just to reset mentally.

  6. I love that you put this together — I think it’ll be super helpful for anyone dealing with their own injuries. I’ve had to take time off from working out in general, and it really made me appreciate how much exercise does for me mentally. If I ever feel like i’m getting to a point where being active is becoming a chore, I’ll take a few extra days off to reset until I start to crave it again. The last thing I want is for exercise to hinder more than it helps.

  7. I so needed to see this today. I’ve been getting so frustrated with my injury and that I’ve had so many over the years even with changes in my training. It’s nice to see I’m not alone. I’ve learned a lot of patience and to not ignore pain.

  8. I’ve been lucky in terms of running injuries (*knock on wood*), but I did suffer my fair share of bball-related ones. As a few folks mentioned, it’s so important to take your time coming back; that’s when it’s the easiest to re-injure yourself. And yep, being injured definitely makes it easier to “be a real person” and explore other interests.

  9. Amazing feedback and such true statements! Injuries sure do teach us a lot about our goals, body abilities, balance, and self-nourishment and love.

  10. This was really cool! I’m glad people learn from injuries. At least most people. That’s the point anyway.

  11. These are all really good points! Sometimes I think that new runners (like me) need to make all of those stupid mistakes and learn for ourselves how best to listen to/and treat our bodies. And that understanding why and how you got injured (and learning from that) will make you a better athlete in the future.

    1. I agree that there are a lot of things I would have never learned without making the mistake myself. (Despite being told multiple times!)

  12. 1- Get a second opinion, particularly if the first doctor isn’t a runner
    2- Pick a doctor that runs in the place (I do this with all doctors, including ob-gyn and dentist, although dentist was pure coincidence)
    3- You must not be lazy about core/stretching/etc. although I haven’t fully learned this lesson.
    4- Call your insurance company and find out how much tests will cost ahead of time. I wish I had done this last winter because the completely unnecessary bone density test cost me $500

  13. Thank you for opening up this discussion to everyone. Reading everyone’s comments helps to put injuries and recovery in perspective. So many lessons learned and opportunities to come back stronger and better prepared-mentally and physically. I appreciate you including my thoughts on injury:) thank you!

  14. These were great and I hope everyone reads up–lots of wisdom can be gathered from injured runners who have 20/20 hindsight!

  15. I can’t say that I have ever taken time of for a mental break………for me, running is a mental break. It’s my time to switch off & empty the head (it’s pretty empty anyway)

    I’ve also been quite lucky with serious injuries (touch wood) but I have had a bad chest infection & tried to keep on running. What was a small cold turned into 3 weeks off running. The lesson learnt……listen to your body!!! No amount of advice can make up for what your own body tells you!!

  16. This is so helpful right now…I have been out for 8 months of no running due to what I found out a few weeks ago to be high hamstring tendinosis. I have been trying to push through it so long doing cross training and trying to do leg day and I know realize that it was such a bad bad mistake. I now have to try and do what is best for it. Unfortunately this is a very very hard injury to heal and there are a lot of different opinions on it…so it is confusing. But one thing I know I have to do is rest.

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