Tiny Blessings of Comfort for the Injured Runner

By: Catherine Barrera

Ok, it’s my turn to write about something “running,” ideally something inspirational, or at least informational, but definitely, it’s got to be about running.

And herein lies my problem.
This is the thorn in my side.
I’m just coming off of the injured list.
After four months.

I’m just now trying to get back out there. During those long, dark weeks of relative inactivity, I was known occasionally to go to a dark hole of self-pity. I even cried a couple of times. Pathetic, right? Meanwhile, this upcoming weekend’s Livestrong Marathon marks the end of the the Distance Challenge, and hence, symbolizes for me the end of the “longer distance” running season. And, drats, I missed it; instead, I stood by on the sidelines as my teammates sped by, and my tight and twisted ankles mocked my lameness. But don’t you go laughing at me, you totally get what I’m saying if you are reading this. Because when you can’t run, you feel exactly the same way Come on, admit it!

Before you think I’m completely insane, there is good news: being injured isn’t all that bad. Ok, I had to think long and hard to come up with this list, it wasn’t obvious to me at first. In fact, I’ve had to do a little soul-searching to finally uncover a few tiny “silver linings”. Here they are.


1. Friday night becomes “Friday Night.” Time to cut loose, go to a party, stay out late, eat spicy food, disengage just a tad from some of your responsibility. When you’re in your car and that Rihanna song “Drink to That” comes on, you start singing at the top of your lungs, pounding your fist like a teenager, sooo feeling the lyrics, “Cheers to the friggin weekend!” Totallllyyyy, Rihanna! You go, girl! Because you don’t have to get up at 5:30 the next  morning and run up and down Scenic til your bowels feel like they might actually explode. You RSVP enthusiastically “yes” to every single one of the birthday parties, and dinner invites, and holiday gatherings that crosses your plate, without even having to check the next morning’s workout schedule. An additional benefit resulting from your injured status is that because most of your running friends cannot attend these same aforementioned parties because they instead must be prepared for the next workout, you find yourself talking to lots of non-runners, many of them in fact very nice, and hence, your ability to discuss matters not related to splits, MGPs and tempo paces is rekindled.

2. You get dressed more often than normal– I mean you get dressed in something other than your regular uniform of compression shorts and your Rogue tee. Admittedly, you own well over a dozen Rogue tees, and in a rainbow of colors, such that you have somehow convinced yourself that you actually do integrate wardrobe variations, oh, foolish you. But when you are an injured runner, you force yourself, sometimes through tears, to step over that heap of regular running gear blocking the closet door, and there you uncover artifacts from your pre-running life! These things are called jeans, blouses, skirts, in fabrics called silk, wool and denim. You try on a mish-mash of these aforementioned articles of clothing, and you twirl around in front of the bathroom mirror, like you are a child again, playing dress-up. You feel glamorous and special. Your husband compliments you. Your children do not remind you to please change out of the running tights and jog bra before you pick them up from school today.

3. Time takes on a different meaning. It becomes less essential. Stop watches start to become almost unnecessary, after all, you don’t really need to know your split time from one aisle of the grocery store to the next. As a holiday gift to your husband on the evening of his company party, you actually remove the 5-year old, moldy black sports watch from your wrist that he chides you for. Further, you begin to readapt to the more traditional January-December calendar; in fact, you now refer to your son’s birthday as March 4th, instead of  “34 days post-3M”. Halloween is now referred to as October 31, rather than “the day after Run for the Water”. This, in turn, makes it easier to schedule doctor appointments, airplane reservations and business meetings, since doing so might require communication with a person who has not memorized the dates of most major road races in town.

So then, these are the “pleasures” we give up to run hard. It’s been fun to experiment, to refamiliarize myself with the “lay-person’s life”. And yet, there continues to be little more I want than to get back out there. I love running, I love the personal and emotional challenges. And most of all, I love my running friends. I might be the worst dressed mommy in Tarrytown because of their influence, but as we continue to move along together in life, they keep showing me all the reasons why running makes me stronger, happier and better.


One response to “Tiny Blessings of Comfort for the Injured Runner”

  1. Carrie Van Meeteren says :

    Catherine, thank you sooo much! This is the 2nd year in a row that I have sat out on the Austin marathon (I’m a first-timer) because of injuries. Last year was really hard for me and I “hated” every runner I saw. This year I didn’t “hate” because I thought I had convinced myself that I might never be a first time marathoner. Yesterday when I got to my 1st cheering spot at mile 9 I began to cry uncontrollably! But, I got over it and was told later by one of the marathoners that I was the best cheerleader that they had encountered all day! I’m hoping next year is my year (3rd times a charm!) as a marathoner and not a great cheerleader!

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