I got an annoying Facebook reminder today that, a few years ago, I was carried off a mountain by my co-workers in Park City when I rolled my ankle on a trail run. It was embarrassing, being carried in a stokes wheel-tray while your colleagues snapped pictures of your foot strapped to a 2×4. I was worried my folks would see photos online before I could call them and tell them I was OK. But, mostly, I was worried about what the fuck I was going to do with myself in the next few months. I had races coming up. I was a runner. A trail runner. An ultra-runner. Right?
Fast-forward a few years later, and Facebook is still sending me memories to ‘look back on.’ This time, it’s last year. I’m running El Vaquero Loco with a broken arm. Whatever. Maybe I’m accident prone? Maybe I’m just clumsy? MAYBE YOU’RE JEALOUS! (Sorry.)
Well, I’ve been through the injury gambit before. And, with a severely injured husband and a few mangled friends, I figured I should put together a post on how not to ruin your life when you get injured. So here it goes, eh?
Right, then. You’ve fucked your body up. Now, what?!
1. Go on a Diet. Or, at least, be honest.
OK. So, maybe not starve yourself. But, look. Be honest with yourself. Have you been “rewarding” yourself for that race you did last month for the past three weeks? Look, I celebrate every race with a post-race donut. That’s the deal. But, I also get beer at the finish. So, what are the other beers for? Don’t freak out – just record them. Maybe use this time to make better decisions. Are you the guy who never turns down dessert because you’re always training? Are you always getting second helpings because you’re burning so many calories? Do you over-indulge because you figure you’ll just burn it off this weekend on a long run? Maybe take this time to just, like, you know, take stock of what you’re consuming in an honest way.
OK. Kudos to my friend Jackie Achter. She fucking broke her mother-fucking-hip because she ran so hard. But, she showed up to the Logan Peak Trail Run anyway and volunteered all day long. So, take a cue from her: show up, stay involved with the running community you were a part of just a few weeks ago before you fell down the stairs, and contribute, give back, and lend a hand.
3. Show up anyways. (sunsets, sunshine, and all that other bullshit.)
So, there’s a lesser-known secret about running: there’s more to it than caloric burn and endorphine release. You see, there are other things you might be missing out on when you suddenly can’t make your group run each day. You know those fun moments you experience when you go for a run? Those stunning sunrises and sunsets? Yep. You’re missing out. So, maybe—and just hear me out—you could set the alarm, get up and go out to the trail head, hobble around as much as you can, and take in the sunrise anyway? Snap a few photos, say hello to your friends, socialize a bit, etc. etc. (You see where this is going.) Just because you’re not putting in the miles, you might still get something out of the ritual of getting up, lacing up, showing up and taking it all in. Try it. Prove me wrong. I can take it. (I’m usualy not wrong.)
4. Don’t disappear.
Don’t. Just fucking don’t do this. Participate. Be a friend.
5. Figure out who you are outside of running. (And get some shit done around the fucking house.)
Oh yeah! Remember who you were before you ran? No?! OK, then. Looks like you have plenty of time to figure it out then. Yes, you had hobbies before you picked up this selfish, all consuming hobby. Read a book. Paint a picture. Learn the guitar. Go see a play. Help the homeless. I don’t care. Also, maybe now’s a good time to clean the goddamn garage you jerk. Clean out your disgusting car. Do all that shit you’re always too busy to do.
So there you go. You’re injured. Now you have some tips on how to handle it. You’re going to be OK. You’ll get better, I promise. And, when you do, at some point, you’ll forget about the period of despair you went through. Really, you will. But, I hope that you don’t. I hope you learn a few things about those other parts of your personality that are important. You’ll be alright. And, you’ll probably come out of this even stronger. Good luck.