Taking time off running is never an easy thing to do, but sometimes it is a necessary thing to do. I have never been good at taking time off. I struggle with rest weeks every four weeks and a rest day each week. So when my doctor says, Nicole, you’re going to need to take a few weeks off of running.
It hits me like a frying pan in the face.
Anger, frustration, disappointment, and heartbroken, I felt them all wash over me. Running is my outlet and my balance.
Why do I have to take time off? A stress fracture in my forefoot.
I’ve never had a stress fracture before and it has always been my greatest fear as a runner because I know it takes you out for an extended period of time.
So now what? I don’t want to lose any more fitness than is necessary, and I want to be able to run the Buffalo 100 at the end of March.
The best way to maintain running fitness when you are injured is through pool running. Running in the pool is not fun. It is monotonous. To run in a pool, you use a flotation belt. You are not supposed to be able to reach the bottom of the pool nor do you move very quickly. The faster you move the more out of running position you are. You can sprint all you want, you’re still not going to go any faster. Running in the pool allows you to continue to work your running muscles without the impact, which will aggravate your injury, whatever it may be.
Other things you can do to maintain at least aerobic fitness are cycling and swimming. Depending on the type of injury you have, weight lifting is also a good option. Take advantage of the downtime by working on things you, “don’t have time for,” because running takes up all of your spare time.
Forced rest depression is something all injured athletes have to be aware of and constantly assess themselves for. Exercise floods your body with endorphins that make you feel good and when you lose those, you can fall into a bad place emotionally. It’s easy to do when you are already feeling heartbroken.
The fastest way back to running is by following your doctor’s advice (I’ll admit, I am not very good at this). If you don’t, you will likely make the injury worse or heal much more slowly. You also run the risk of making a soft tissue injury turn into something chronic that will flare up on a regular basis at the most inopportune times.
A stress fracture heals much faster than a full fracture of the bone. No promises here, but I’m committed to being mostly good and to follow my doctor’s advice.