Embracing injury as opportunity

After seven or so years in the sport, I finally suffered my first real running-related injury this past Spring. On or about Easter Sunday, I partially ruptured the peroneal tendon in my right ankle. It was an overuse injury brought on by (surprise!) trying to do too much too quickly. In a blow to my recovery prospects, I self-diagnosed the injury as mere achilles tendinitis, a rather less significant malady.  As such, I returned to running too quickly, aggravated the injury, and missed out on much of the glorious spring running weather.

I’m now fully recovered, and (much to my surprise) the time off might have been a net positive. I was by no means pleased about my inability to run–for roughly half a year, a major source of enjoyment and relief was missing from my life–but I chose to embrace the situation.  I had an extra 8-10 hours per week to do with as I pleased.  Imagine the possibilities!

Being a fitness nut, I primarily worked on other aspects of my conditioning and trying to maintain some cardiovascular fitness.  I improved my power on the bike to all-time bests, and I used the gym to work out the strength imbalances that developed and persisted after my run-in with an inattentive driver last year. In the process, I built my squat and deadlift to the best they’ve been in years, which should, at least in theory, help my running (right?).  Oh, and I got kind of ripped in the gym, which doesn’t suck.

I won’t say that I’m glad I got injured–I missed seeing my running buddies and teammates, and I definitely lost a lot of sport-specific fitness–but it opened my eyes to opportunities that I might not have otherwise seen when the routine revolved around running.  Focusing on what I could do rather than dwelling on what was verboten led to my becoming fitter and stronger than I was before I got injured.  Sure, I’m not as fast as I was, but I will be eventually.  And once I am, watch out, because I’m still pretty ripped.


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