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So you’re injured, and benched from running. Maybe it’s temporary. Maybe you’ve got one of those dreaded 6-8 week sentences. Maybe, you don’t have a timeline at all, and wonder if running will ever be a part of your life again. Whatever the prognosis and prescription, chances are you are pretty bummed.
Believe me, I get it.
It can be hard when suddenly the community that means so much to you keeps on moving forward, training, racing, and achieving amazing goals, while you’re suddenly (quite literally) sitting still. Of course, it’s not their fault: the running world obviously doesn’t stop spinning because of one person’s injury or hiatus. Regardless, it can feel isolating. It can feel frustrating.
And the FOMO? It can be a bitch.
When you find yourself in this situation, there are typically two courses of action you can take:
- Shut yourself off from the community, because you are upset/jealous/can’t handle watching other people do what you want to do (i.e. pout like a toddler told to go sit in the corner)
- Find other, alternate ways to stay involved, and ultimately, feel less sorry for yourself.
Having found myself in the grounded-from-running predicament more than once over the last decade, I can tell you that I’ve taken both approaches. In my experience, one approach typically works out better for your mental well being than the other.
Yeah, you guessed it: it’s the one that doesn’t involve pouting.
Staying Involved in the Running Community When You Can’t Run.
Finding ways to stay involved in the running community, even when you can’t run, will help with all of the negative, and for lack of better terms, “woe is me” feelings that often accompany downtime. Plus, you’ll be helping your fellow runners in one form or another – and who doesn’t like a little running-world-good-karma?
Here are four ways you can stay active and involved in the running community, even when you aren’t running.
Spectate a Race
You know that amazing feeling when you run in towards the finish line, and you hear absolute strangers cheering wildly for you? Whether you are first place or last place, the cheers, cowbells, and congratulations put a huge smile on your face.
Be that person for someone else.
Bonus points for not simply cheering in the front half of the pack. Rather, stick around and cheer equally as hard and enthusiastically for those finishing towards the back of the pack. Having experienced both the front and the very back of the pack myself, I can assure you the finish line is much quieter towards the back. So, stick around and help change that!
I’ve never left a race I’ve spectated feeling anything less than inspired, and proud to be a part of this amazing running community.
I’ve been shouting this one from the rooftops since practically the beginning of this blog. Every single runner SHOULD put in volunteer time, and not only when they can’t run. Race directors rely on volunteers to help execute a successful race.
Volunteering can range from a variety of duties, such as manning an aid station table, checking in runners as they cross check points, working registration or road crossings – the possibilities are endless. AND – volunteering is not limited to races. You can volunteer at your local trail for a clean up day, or volunteer at one of your local running clubs events. You get the idea…give the gift of your time!
Volunteering helps give back to the community that you love so much. Selfishly, however, there is something so awesome about knowing that you helped other runners achieve their goals, even if in the most minute, indirect way.
Volunteering will definitely give you an emotional boost, and help you forget that you are sidelined from running yourself. It will help you feel connected to the running community, and I promise that you’ll be grateful for the opportunity.
In the ultramarathon world, we are all familiar with the concept of a crew. People who are there to help you reach your goals, from making sure you’re eating enough calories to changing your socks and shoes when you can no longer reach your feet at mile 90.
But, crewing is not necessarily reserved for the ultramarathon world. Being a “crew” person for a friend at a race, can simply mean holding on to their sweatshirt for post race so they don’t have to wait in the bag check line, or driving a tired friend home after a marathon.
Related Post: The Benefits of Having a Crew When Running an Ultra
Can’t focus on your own running for a while? Why not help someone else with theirs. Help encourage a new runner who is just getting into the sport. Or, volunteer to mentor a larger group, such as a youth program or local couch-to-5K program. You don’t have to be a certified coach to help encourage and share the basics (such as the old-adages “cotton is rotten” and “nothing new on race day”, etc.)
Don’t have a group nearby that you can help? Head to the internet! There are endless groups and forums of beginners that could always use a positive voice and helpful tips.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t post a big fat disclaimer here: stay within your scope of practice! If you aren’t a medical professional, don’t give medical advice. If you aren’t a certified coach, don’t prescribe workouts, etc. But, certainly share all of the knowledge and enthusiasm that you’ve gained over your running career with others who are looking to learn and seeking encouragement.
Yeah, it sucks to be down and out from a sport you love so much.
But looking for other ways to stay involved will help ward off that isolated, “poor me” feeling that often comes with running injuries. Plus, your fellow running community members will appreciate your effort and presence.
Join the discussion: what’s your favorite way to stay involved with the running community when you find yourself “benched” from running? Leave a comment below!