Smutty Fitness: Running after back injury

January 22, 2015 15:26:53 Posted at January 22, 2015 15:26:53
Hayley Posted by Hayley

Dear Hayley

Last September I ran my second race ever and first half marathon (a huge deal for me because I began running last February and I never thought I´d be able to do the 21 km distance). Unfortunately, four weeks after the race I had a serious bike accident and broke a vertebrae. I had to wear a plastic corset for two months, and although I kept active by walking (twice a week, between 6 and 11 km each time) could not run.  Since the New Year, and with my doctor's ok, I´ve gone for four runs, trying to increase the distance, but I'm slower than usual and the farthest I've gone is 7 km. How do I build my resistance again?

Any advice is welcome!

Thank you so much

Buenos Aires,


I've been there, where you are, frustrated while trying to come back from an injury, remembering how strong you once were and constantly comparing the state of your body now to the one it once was.

I remember trying to come back after receiving a bad concussion and trying to get myself ready for the Boston Marathon. I had qualified for the race in May and was running the best I ever had, placing 19th out of all the women, which was the best finish I had ever had. However, that winter while snowboarding, I had a bad fall which resulted in a concussion that kept me away from running for two months. When I was finally ready to run I could barely run 5km without stopping. And I was SLOW.

Day after day I would hit the seawall and I would just run. I would leave my watch at home and set a simple goal of trying to run a little bit farther than I had the day before. I ran 5 days a week and did not allow myself to care about my speed or who was passing me. It took a long time but soon I was running like I knew I could, still with a long way to go, and I loved running enough again to start moving forward.  I built up my endurance and my confidence in myself to the point that I was ready to start pushing.

That is what I suggest you do. Forgot, for a moment, the runner you used to be and accept the runner that you are now, but with confidence that you will get back to the runner that you once were. If you set your expectations too high now and start to push yourself to levels that you once were capable of, you are setting yourself up for failure. Learn to love to run again and be kind to yourself during the process.
Keep up with your 7km runs but try one week to run 8, and then the next week maybe try for 9 and then 10. If you have to walk during the run, then walk, but the next time you go out try not to. When your confidence is back and you feel as though you can push yourself mentally, then you can get back to those longer and harder runs that require focus and mental strength to finish.

The finish lines that you cross after having to push yourself the way you are having to mean the most. So I encourage you to sign up for another half marathon, when you are ready, and when you cross the start line I want you to smile the entire way to the finish, thinking about how far you have come.

Attached - Reese Witherspoon out for a jog in Brentwood yesterday. 

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