If you’re an injured runner, I know how you’re feeling. I've been there, and I am there once again. I’m Janelle Fabian, part of the awesome ShokzSquad family.
For the past two years, I've battled multiple lower leg injuries. Coming back from a hiatus after a heel injury, I somehow managed to run part of a Ragnar Relay in June and complete my first full marathon in October of 2018 with help from my guru of a physical therapist. During that time, I experienced a lot of challenges. Only a few months into training, I sprained an ankle. Then, gait compensation led to tendonitis in the opposite ankle and calf, which I ran through in the marathon.
And now, here I am still struggling on the injury front. I have another ankle sprain, which has kept me from running, and have spent more quality time with my physical therapist the past four months. I'm sure at this point she thinks I'm the clumsiest person alive or entirely off my rocker. Or both.
I am not here to tell you that injury recovery is easy. I am also not here to tell you that it doesn't come with additional setbacks. And when your PT tells you to look for the "little rewards in your progress," I am thinking ice cream. When in reality, she means injuries don't heal overnight. They take time, and they take diligence and patience to see small gains. What I am here to tell you is that there is still a way to get after your goals. If the camaraderie, the friendships, and the pack mentality of running is your thing, then don't sit at home and stew. Go with your friends to their race. Be the driver, the cheerleader, the water girl or guy, the sherpa, and the support team. There are also alternative ways to compete if that is your thing.
Last month I went to a local triathlon that my team and friends were competing in as a season opener, and I played cheerleader extraordinaire. I had done a few sprint triathlons in the past. I was on the swim team as a kid and did a lot of cycling while living in Seattle. At this race, I thoroughly enjoyed watching every athlete get after their goals, but it also made me miss racing. I stood beside my running coach in transition, waiting for our friends to come through, and shared my thoughts. Her response was, "why not do an Aquabike?"
For those of you that may not know, Aquabike is the swim and bike portion of the triathlon without the run. You swim in a questionably pristine lake (temperatures range from cold to freezing), and transition to biking in a wet tri suit, up and down a multitude of hills. Though this may not sound like fun to some, don't knock it until you have tried it. And, as I mentioned before, I may be slightly off my rocker. But aren't most runners?
I had been cross-training with cycling, swimming, and strength training while injured because first off, I have way too much energy to sit at home and do nothing. Secondly, I enjoy all three of these activities nearly as much as I love lacing up my shoes for a run. Lastly, I realized how much I missed swimming and cycling since running had become my primary focus. The Aquabike idea had not occurred to me, but it was a genius idea. I immediately signed up for an Olympic distance Aquabike race coming up in two weeks.
Fast forward to race day, and the weather was perfect! The sun was out, and racing was in full swing. I completed the 1.6-kilometre swim and 40-kilometre bike course, and I was super happy to finish my first official race of 2019. The crazy news? I won first overall female in a race that would not have even crossed my radar if I hadn’t talked to my coach that day as I played cheerleader for my friends!
While you may not be able to run (or compete in whatever your sport is), what you can do is find an alternative. Find new goals. Do an Aquabike like me. Sign up for a local bike ride. Not a swimmer? Find someone who can teach you. Strength train or try yoga or barre classes. I've done them all. Whatever you decide, it will be far better than sitting at home waiting to recover from your injury. The opportunities are endless. Who knows, you may discover something new you're good at and love!