Let's face it....there will be a day when all of us get injured. Just like the fact that there are two kinds of cyclists: those who have fallen and those that will fall!
In a recent survey 90% of runners revealed some kind of injury in the last 12 months that resulted in the loss of more than one day of training. Some of us are just more hardy than others. I have several ultra-marathon running patients (yes, they embrace the fact that most of us think they are crazy) who train like maniacs and think that running a 50K on Saturday and then a marathon on Sunday is just a fun weekend in Texas! These people and their considerably more sane counterparts, a group of which I have been fortunate enough to consider myself a member, almost never get injured unless we fall off a curb, get hit by a car, or fall in a pothole. These injuries always seem to happen at the most inopportune time. There are also runners who tend to be injury prone. Those frustrated souls who seem to be in my office or with my physical therapist on a regular basis who often follow the letter of the training programs and still seem to get hurt.
Injuries suck...and often make us borderline psychotic! So, how do we survive this down time and come back from injury even stronger? Cross-training a.k.a. relative rest is the key! Unless you are in a full body cast from a severe accident, there is an alternative exercise that should at least keep your endorphin addiction under control. Yes, you need to seek permission to bike or swim or core train, light yoga, etc., whatever your doctor says you can do even if it is only upper body, you need to move! Everyday! Sitting on the couch eating chips and singing woe is me will not cut it! And you will lose all the cardio fitness you have built with your running program. A good rule of thumb is to try and keep to your program by performing the alternate exercise for the planned amount of time you were going to run. This may require some circuit training, because if you are anything like me, the first time I tried to swim I lasted all of 15 minutes; but then I got out of the pool and attacked the stationary bike to finish my planned one hour workout. Flexibility and a willingness to try something else will get your through any injury. The best part is that you may find you even like some of the cross training (remember I did my first triathlon after breaking my foot).
The power of positive thinking is also relevant in this topic. Stop sitting on the couch feeling sorry for yourself and instead make a new plan, a new goal and a new training program. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Cross-train, plan and conquer your injury. You will survive and often times be in better shape afterwards!