Staying Active Through Injury

If you haven’t noticed from the lack of running-related posts over here lately, this summer’s running season for me so far has been nearly nonexistent, due entirely to my still-healing lower back.  It’s funny (or sad…) to think that a slip on ice that happened four months ago is still causing me problems now.  But it is, and I think I’m coping fairly well.

After months of visiting my chiropractor, he finally threw his hands up in the air a couple weeks ago and told me he isn’t sure what is wrong, but whatever he’s been doing obviously isn’t working.  So I’m now going down the road to recovery solo with simple home therapies (ice, stretching, strengthening exercises, etc.).  I guess the upside of that is I’m saving money on office visits. 😉

Anyway, since I’ve always wanted to keep my entire blog a happy place, and because it’s not really my nature to get down on things out of my control anyway, I thought I’d share what I’ve found I am still able to do to maintain fitness through this rough patch of running (you might have noticed on my workout log that longer/regular runs have basically disappeared lately).

None of these non-running activities will ever replace running completely, since running for me is more to me than a calorie burn, it’s a happy place (another post for another day, I suppose).  But for now, these things have been keeping me mentally sane. 🙂

  • Walking.  I think I mentioned awhile back that I’d found a new appreciation for walking.  Again, probably not something I’d ever have taken much of an interest in if I were able to run regularly.  But when you’re not able to run, walking is actually a great way to stay active.  On any given walking day I’ll go out for 4-6 miles, usually maintaining slightly under or over a 13 minute pace.  Some days I can keep a 12:00 pace, which I thought was speedy until I realized Olympic walkers walk sub-8:00 minute miles!! Who are those crazy people?!
  • Run/walk combos.  I know I should probably stop running cold turkey if I want to get better, but my crazy mind just won’t let me do that.  So a few days a week, I’ll do a walk/run combination workout.  I stop running as soon as my back starts to feel uncomfortable, but it makes me happy to be able to run at least a little bit.
  • Slow, watch-less runs.  Keeping the “need to run” thing in mind, if my back feels OK on any given day, I’ll go out for a slow run (I hate to call it a jog).  I don’t wear a watch (or, at least not my Garmin) because I really don’t want to see how fast or slow I’m running — I’m just happy to be running!
  • Swimming.  It’s funny how little swimming I do considering I spent a solid 17 years swimming competitively, but I learn to appreciate my ability to jump in the pool and swim every time I face a running-related injury.  Swimming is such a low impact workout, which means, unless you’re battling a shoulder injury or something, you can likely swim through just about any injury.  I’m actually going to try to up my swim workouts in the next few weeks, in case my brother and I get to swim in an alpine lake while we’re in Europe!
  • Aqua Jogging.  If I get bored swimming laps, I often throw on an aqua jogging belt and run in the water.  It tricks my mind into thinking I’m running, without having to pound pavement.  The only problem with aqua jogging is how boring it is… I need to find myself an aqua jogging buddy or something to make the time pass!
  • Strength Training.  I’ve really learned to appreciate weight lifting over the past couple months.  I always lifted weights when I swam in college, but sort of got away from it a bit when I started running after college.  It’s such a great workout when done right (i.e. not just picking up random weights and doing random things).  I think I have Tina’s bootcamp to thank for getting me back into the iron pumpin. 😉
  • Lawn Mowing.  Haha, I’m just kidding.  But if you follow me on Instagram (LBBakes) you might have noticed I’ve been mowing my parents’ lawn lately.  Hey, I think it gets my heart rate up. 🙂

Sometimes I wonder if any of this is actually keeping me in decent shape, but I think my random 5k PR a few weeks ago is a decent indication that I’m still in fairly decent shape… even though I actually felt completely out of shape during that race!   Anyway, I have no idea if it’ll be 1 month or 1 year before I can run pain-free again, but until then, I’m making the best of what I can do to stay active and healthy!

Am I missing anything?  If you’re a runner, what type of workouts do you turn to when you can’t run?  

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9 thoughts on “Staying Active Through Injury”

  1. When I couldn’t run for 6 months, I did a lot of walking intervals. Sounds crazy but I would use landmarks (there were light posts along my trail) and I would walk two poles and sprint walk one pole. It was much harder than you would expect it to be!

    The other thing I turned to when I hurt my back was pilates and yoga.

    Wishing you an easy recovry and hope you are healthy soon!

    1. Walking intervals, I’ll have to try that! I know, I need to get my act together and start going to yoga or Pilates classes.

    1. I’ve never been to a Pilates class – only yoga. I will have to check and see if my gym has Pilates, I’m willing to do whatever exercises will help my back!

  2. My Pilates instructor always told me how great PIlates is for runners. It works your core and that’s what supports your body. I also had a lower back injury and Pilates didn’t both it. If I ever felt discomfort I modified the exercise. It still gets tight from time to time but overall it is back to feeling great.

  3. I know this may no longer be an issue (I just found your wonderful blog) but reading your post about your back issues made me think of mine….have you considered seeing a physical therapist? One who is certified in the McKenzie Method? It’s what made the difference for me and I still use it whenever I am experiencing discomfort. Good luck and I hope that you are on the road to recovery.

    1. Hi Branda, thanks for the comment! My back actually is still bugging me… I’m planning to seek alternative help (whether that’s PT or something else) once I move, so I will keep this in mind. Thanks again!

  4. Just came across your blog and love your recipes! On a side note, I am dealing with an injury right now and just got my foot placed in one of those oh-so fashionable boots by my Dr.

    In order not to get too discouraged with my 10 weeks of no running I am going to focus on core and arms. Something I always want to spend more time doing, but running always gets in the way. 🙂 I even talked to my trainer to help come up with a no ankle involved workout routine for me. I hope I can deal with not logging any miles…

    Hope your back feels better soon!

    1. Hi Kate, welcome to my blog! 😉 It’s always good to focus on other areas when you have an injury, right? Working on other things helps keep us from going crazy that we can’t train as normal! Hope you’re healing soon!

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