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Avoiding Depression when Coping with Running Injuries

Updated on January 24, 2012

Your getting faster, going further distances or perhaps both when boom!, out of nowhere, didn't even see it coming, you get injured. Not the kind of ice it real good and get back out there kind of injury, but the ugly worst kind, when you have to take considerable time off from running. The first thing you ask the doctor after what is wrong is when can I run again. You may not hear him or not want to hear him, either way you try to sneak back out there before you are supposed to and if you come back limping it is more than your ego that takes a beating.

Some athletes fall into major depression during a layoff from running due to injury. The withdrawal from endorphins, fear of weight gain and\or loss of hard earned fitness is enough to drive any runner insane. Not to mention the loss of the social scene that running provides via races, events, etc. You know you have it bad when you realize that 90% of your social life revolves around running or racing. There is also a loss of identity that results in asking yourself, if I am not a runner, who am I?

This makes it crystal clear how important it is to be multi-demensional when it comes to interests, hobbies, social life, etc. Having something else to focus on when you are unable to run will do wonders for staving off depression and allow you to hold on to your sanity until you are able to get back out there and pound the pavement once again. For me, the big distraction has been my beautiful children. I have taken this time that would have been spent training for yet another marathon and instead focused on getting my daughters more interested in running. My 9 year old ran her first 5 K on Thanksgiving day while I volunteered at the registration table. She comes through the finish line exhausted and says, "Mom, I wanted to quit so bad, but I didn't"! I have never been more proud. She went on to run another 5K last weekend (a jingle bell run) and finished that one tired, but thrilled. My 6 year old twins ran the fun runs at both events.

I know some runners that when they are injured can simply not bring themselves to be anywhere near races or running events. They say it just makes them more frustrated that they can't participate. I can totally understand that, but I would say find something else to do while you recover. Sure, you will want to try and preserve as much fitness through swimming , pool running, use of the eliptical machine, cycling, etc as your injury will allow, but those things will get old. Especially pool running, ugggh! It's about as exciting as watching paint dry. If you don't have kids to distract you, take up writing, learn a foreign language, volunteer at a charity. You might even look up a support group for injured runners. I had no luck finding one, but I tried. Surround yourself with supportive people that will love you rather you can run or not and get you through the tough times. Soon enough we will all be back out there doing what we love best.

Running the El Paso Marathon (3 months prior to being injured)


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