PART OF THE GAME Overcoming an injury - Interview with athletes & active people

January 20, 2018

 

Foto: Jana Studzinska 

 

 

Starting off the 2018 blog with a topic we usually don’t like to talk much about: Injuries

 

When running and other exercise are a big part of your daily life they become part of your identity which can be difficult once injuries come up. Left without the thing that has given you so much can make you feel incredibly frustrated and lonely. 

 

BUT, aren’t the darkest moments in our life the moments we learn the most about ourselves? Do you agree that highs and lows both belong together as much as sports and injuries do and that every downside has its own highlight as these are the times that allow us to learn and grow?

 

Having to deal with an injury twice and seeing fellow athletes experiencing the same I decided to interview 5 accomplished athletes and active people on how they overcame their injury - to inspire, to motivate and to eventually even find higher meaning in it.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time and for sharing your inspiring stories @ Ian Kinsella, Jaclyn Doyle, Jana Studzinska , Ruth Croft and Tim Wortmann!

 

Now enjoy the reading :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IAN KINSELLA
 

 

Brief profile about yourself:

 

I am an Irish marathon, trail, ultra runner currently living in Toronto and in my spare time I run a Tech Recruitment business :-)

Current goal is a sub 2:40 marathon at Boston and compete in a 50 mile ultra....perhaps North Face 50mile in San Fan in November

 

Your Life Motto: A Guinness a day keeps the doctor away

 

Links you would like to share (if any): 

 

https://www.instagram.com/iank29/?hl=en

 

1)    Your injury (if you’d like to share your story or just name it)? 

 

I got a stress fracture in my right foot 2 weeks before Chicago marathon. It happened on a Sunday the day after my best ever long marathon execution on the Saturday. I was in the best shape of my life but I ran 38kms all on hard surfaces and my body just cracked. 

 

2)    How did you feel about your injury (especially as an active person, being used to exercise and compete)? 

 

I thought it wasn’t anything big and continued to cross train however it got worse and I had to stop running totally and use a boot in order to prevent any stress on the foot. That was the hardest part as I wasn’t even able to walk properly and I started to feel compensation injuries in my hips then from the boot. It was only for 2 weeks but it felt like a lifetime in the boot and I couldn’t run the Chicago Marathon. I still went and cheered on Jaclyn which gave me a sense of joy and also envy and I would of loved to be out there running it. 

 

3)    What did you do while being injured (other activities, hobbies, new stuff etc.?) 

 

I don’t mind the gym and I cycle too so it wasn’t as big a deal not running as other people often face. However with a stress fracture on the foot you cant do anything weight bearing. Even the bike is not allowed at the start. So i did some Pool Running which is soooooo boring. After 4 weeks I was able to do more so I went on nice long easy bike rides and other forms of cross training. I also took the time off training to enjoy guilt free beers with friends and food I wouldn’t   normally eat while in peak training. A lot of pizza :-)

 

 

4)    How long did it take you to heal, to get back to your normal life, get back into training? 

 

I ran for the first time after 7 weeks but it took about 10/12 weeks before I could really get any kind of quality runs in. I was nervous about putting too much stress on my foot and as I was so used to the pain in my foot even though it was fully healed I could still feel it. 

 

5)    How did your rehab / recovery program look like? 

 

Rest my foot. It was as simple as that. Unlike muscular injuries when rehab and strength training help the muscle I just need to let my body heal. 

 

6)    How did you overcome your injury – physically, mentally? Any tips? 

 

You need to be prepared to not run and not feel bad about it. Like I said, I quite like changing things up and cross training. I cross train at least once a week and I do this so that if I feel a niggle coming on I can take a few days off running and cross training which keep my fitness levels high and I avoid the impact of running. Runners who are not a fan of the gym will often run through an early on coming injury and this will put them out for longer than those who cross train smartly. 

 

7)    Is there anything that the injury taught you? 

 

In some ways this injury was actually the best thing that happened to me. I needed a wake up call. I trained all last year without any real break and I moved from Ireland to Canada which was also a big life change. I ran way too many miles at an intermediate effort when I should of been running those miles more easy. I also didn’t take enough time between races to recover properly. These things caused my body to break literally. 

 

8)    Anything else you’d like to share? 


My current structure is strength training 2 or 3 times a week which I hope will help me get quicker and less likely to get injured and I’m really careful about making sure I run my easy days easy and my hard days hard.

 

 

 

 

JACLYN DOYLE

 

Brief profile about yourself: 


Currently based in Toronto, Ontario after living in Dublin, Ireland for 4.5 years. A graduate in Psychology and certified Nutritional Therapist, my passions naturally centre around food, health, well-being, and of course running and yoga! I have completed 4 out of the 6 major marathons and hoping to complete all 6. I am also a certified Yoga Teacher, currently teaching in Toronto.  

 

Your Life Motto: No pain, no gain. 

 

Links you would like to share (if any):

 

http://primalwell.com/

 

https://www.instagram.com/jaclyndoyle_health/?hl=en

 

 

 

 

 

1)    Your injury (if you’d like to share your story or just name it)? 

 

I developed a stress fracture in my tibia (lower part of my ankle) while training for the 2017 Chicago Marathon.  I had trained so hard for this marathon and I figured that the injury wasn't that bad (I didn't know I had a stress fracture until after) and I ran the marathon.  Needless to say, that was NOT a good idea and I was in extreme pain after.  From the fracture I developed tendinitis in the tendon from the knee to my shin bone because I had been compromising from the stress fracture.  I have currently been off running for three months but am on the mend! 

 

2)    How did you feel about your injury (especially as an active person, being used to exercise and compete)?

 

I was pretty devastated straight after the marathon.  I had worked so hard and not only did I not reach my goal that I had set out, I developed a pretty rough injury.  I was in a lot of pain for about two weeks after, unable to walk properly and was not able to run for 12 weeks.  However, after any race or injury you really do learn a lot from the experience.  Injuries are funny, they are a way of telling our bodies, enough is enough.  It also taught me not to take simply walking for granted!  

 

3)    What did you do while being injured (other activities, hobbies, new stuff etc.?) 

 

That's the hard part when you're injured and you're a runner.  It's so easy to just throw on your runners and go out the door for a run so you have to be open to different types of exercise.  I had to take 6 weeks off of complete exercise and was unable to put any pressure on my ankle.  Within time I was able to get back in the gym, mainly elliptical training, body weight strength training and a lot of yoga!  I am also currently completing another nutrition course online so I was able to focus on that a bit more!

 

4)    How long did it take you to heal, to get back to your normal life, get back into training?  

 

Ongoing!  It took two weeks to be able to bend my knee and about 10 weeks where I was able to complete my runners "hop" test on my injured leg.  I jumped the gun a bit quicker than I should have and started with a really light jog about 8 weeks after the marathon.  It wasn't the right time, it was too soon and it only set myself back that much longer.  I can't wait to be able to get back to the level of fitness I was at before the injury but I am also looking forward to building my base back up again. 

 

5)    How did your rehab / recovery program look like? 

 

I did a lot of physio therapy, about twice a week and also incorporated more massages to flush out some of the inflammation.  I also visited an osteopath to try and get to the root problem of my injury. He looked assessed my running form and gave me 5 exercises to include into my pre-workout/run routine which I will have to maintain when i get back to training. 

 

6)    How did you overcome your injury – physically, mentally? Any tips? 

 

Physically I had to put in the work cross training, get a membership to the gym and get on the elliptical. I also made sure I was being consistent with yoga and trying to regain my strength through yoga.  Mentally you need to stay positive as hard as it is and know that in time this will get better.  I knew how long I was going to be off for so I started looking for some races I might be able to do in the summer.  I have goals that I know I want to achieve but there is no rush and I think that it's important not to jump in so quick.

 

7)    Is there anything that the injury taught you? 

 

So much!  It really taught me that I was being extremely stubborn.  I knew that I was hurt but I kept training.  It was silly but I was so focused on the marathon and my goal time that I just continued to tell myself I was okay.  I needed to slow down, listen to my body and focus on what it needed.  Since the injury I have also been seeing a Naturopath to again, try and get down to the root of the injury.  So often than not there are more contributing factors to an injury than just over training.  

 

8)    Anything else you’d like to share? Injuries are tough, and as athletes unfortunately they happen.  All you can do is learn from them and come back stronger!

 

 

 

                                                     

 JANA STUDZINSKA 

 

 

Brief profile about yourself:

 

Love trail running, running, mountains and like-minded people. Currently living in London but in endless love with Chamonix. 

 

Your Life Motto: Not afraid to fall, afraid not to try.   

 

Links you would like to share (if any):

 

Stress fracture:

https://trainersoverheels.com/2017/06/15/wild-hearts-cant-be-broken/

https://trainersoverheels.com/2017/06/20/i-dont-need-your-sympathy/

 

Post stress fracture:

https://trainersoverheels.com/2017/09/24/whatever-it-takes/

https://trainersoverheels.com/2017/10/02/im-back/

 

 

 

 

 

1)    Your injury (if you’d like to share your story or just name it)?

 

It was end of month when I started to pretty clear that I have stress fracture. The bone was sore when I touched it and I could feel something was basically ‘wrong’. Unfortunately I had no classic symptoms (bruised, swollen) and was still running, so no one was taking me seriously. MRI finally showed what I was suspecting for weeks.

 

2)    How did you feel about your injury (especially as an active person, being used to exercise and compete)?

 

After I was finally diagnosed I’ve actually felt relieved. I was training so hard that forced rest was more than welcomed. Wearing the aircast boot in Central London was horrible. So were all the questions. And I wasn’t missing running. That was the scariest thing. In general it was combination of relief, frustration, knowledge, analysis and loads of free time. I gave myself space to feel all the emotions. After short period of frustration, I’ve actually realised it was good thing that I got injured. Otherwise I would have never stopped.

 

 

3)    What did you do while being injured (other activities, hobbies, new stuff etc.?)

 

Luckily I’ve realised my running friends are not only for running. That helped a lot. It was quite hard to find activities with no weight bearing on the leg. But you can always practice yoga, do upper body exercises, go bouldering (with care and not really using the injured leg). It was mid summer so i was trying to be as much outdoors and around people as possible.

 

 

4)    How long did it take you to heal, to get back to your normal life, get back into training?

 

It took me about 7 weeks in theory. Why in theory? As after 7 weeks I ran Bergamo urban half. As slow as I could and ready to DNF if any pain occurs. I was wearing the air cast boot for 4-5 weeks and was seeing my physio twice per week. After that half, I gave myself all the time. I stopped again completely for two weeks, did loads of running in the swimming pool and walking. My endurance was gone though. Went for hike in Alps end of August and it was very frustrating to see I lost it all. I could barely walk up the mountain. Because I’m stubborn and missed out on running CCC - my first 100k- I signed up for 100k in December instead. To have extra motivation. The following months- it was testing rather than training. I needed to build up slowly. Was alternating between 60-70k per week vs 20-30k. 

 

 

5)    How did your rehab / recovery program look like?

 

My physio was amazing. Had plenty of basic exercises to strengthen the form and correct the posture, which really helped. I don’t like swimming but did loads of swimming pool running, which is great simulation of running but no weight bearing. 

 

 

6)    How did you overcome your injury – physically, mentally? Any tips?

 

The mental barrier will always be there. But I believe it is a good sign, it keeps me reasonable. The injury showed me I didn’t knew my limits. I was over training and doing too much kilometres per week rather than using the time for strengthening my body. 

 

 

7)    Is there anything that the injury taught you?

 

I’ve kept my air cast boot. I placed it on the top of my trainers shelve. To remind me to train smart. To be smart. That it is only running. And that it is not running that shaped me. It is me that shaped my running and my life around it. 

 

 

8)    Anything else you’d like to share?

 

It is so important to talk about injuries. Very often they are demonised like end of the world. Instead we should learn from them and take the forced time off to become a better stronger runner and person.

 

 

 

 

RUTH CROFT

 

 Brief profile about yourself:

 

Kiwi trail runner for SCOTT Running and Garmin. Previously based in Taipei, Taiwan but just returned back to NZ to live. 

 

Links you would like to share (if any):

 

https://www.instagram.com/ruthcrofty/?hl=en

 

1)    Your injury (if you’d like to share your story or just name it)?

 

My most recent was a Sacral stress reaction. 

 

2)    How did you feel about your injury (especially as an active person, being used to exercise and compete)?

 

To be honest previously when I got injured I would often be down/depressed about not being able to run. Which would effect the people around me. This time my attitude was a lot different. Instead of having a negative outlook on the situation, I tried to see the positive. The positive being that it happened at the end of the season. I still had one race left that I was not able to be on the start line for but I had to be grateful that it had not happened in the middle of the season. 

 

3)    What did you do while being injured (other activities, hobbies, new stuff etc.?)

 

I did not exercise for a month. I have tried to cross train previously, but I personally feel that it can sometimes slow down the healing. As I said it had been a big season, so I used this time as my "off" season. Not just physically but also mentally I was ready to have a break. I completely shut down from running and then after 4 weeks I started doing some road biking. It was not until after the 4 weeks that I was ready to get back to being active, which is at the point I wanted to be at (mentally and physically). I was also in the process of moving back to NZ so I focused on that, and also had that to look forward to. 

 

4)    How long did it take you to heal, to get back to your normal life, get back into training?

 

It took 6 weeks of no running and then after the 6 weeks I could slowly start building back up again. For example the first week back was just 5-10min every second day. 

 

5)    How did your rehab / recovery program look like?

 

I saw a physio and was given a lot of glute exercises etc with a theraband that I was doing daily. 

 

6)    How did you overcome your injury – physically, mentally? Any tips?

 

If you run a lot getting injured is a part of it to a certain extent. Don't get too down about it, at the end of the day it is just running. I am sure there are a lot more other positive things in your life that you can focus on while your body takes the time it needs to heal. In the meantime do all you can to figure out why you got injured in the first place and work towards preventing it from happening again. 

 

7)    Is there anything that the injury taught you?

 

My glutes are weak. It also taught me that after an ultra I need more time to recover before loading the workouts back on. 

 

 

 

TIM WORTMANN

 

 

Brief profile about yourself:

 

Sport Scientist & Ultrarunner from Germany; Started racing in 2009; first Ultramarathon in 2013; more miles -> more time in the mountains -> more fun ;)

 

Links you would like to share (if any): 

https://www.instagram.com/timwortmann/

https://www.facebook.com/tim.wortmann.54

https://twitter.com/WortmannTim

 

 

1)    Your injury (if you’d like to share your story or just name it)?

 

Oh boy, trying to keep it short, but actually had a series of injuries in 2016 and totally ran myself into the ground. But learned a lot from this...Here is my story!

 

First 'niggles' occurred at the end of 2015 (foot issues), but since I had the HK100 in January, I maintained training as good as possible. In retrospect I should have stopped at that time, but in ultrarunning you're always training at that fine line and I really wanted to travel to China and explore some new trails. So I went. Got pain the whole race and a poor performance because of the poor preparation. It still was a good experience but after the race I was sidelined for 8 weeks with knee pain (had laser, ultrasound and electric stimulation therapy).

 

When I got back to normal training, I had 6 weeks until the Trans Atlas Marathon. So I changed my expectations and tried to take it as a training for my main goal of the season - Transpyrenea (860km nonstop over the Pyrenees).

As always I had a great time in Morocco (especially because I went there with friends), but because I was really untrained it was hard and I still had pain in my right knee. But what should I do? When you enter a stage race, you have to finish it, right? So I ignored the pain and tried to avoid pain by changing gait etc. Final result: The last two stages I had horrible pain.

Since the race was dedicated to a friend who died in the mountains, I wanted to get it done so badly, that I even took some painkillers. Bad idea. When I returned to Germany, I was sidelined again for 4 weeks until pain was bearable which left me 6 weeks of training until Transpyrenea. Never give up, right? To be honest - I started training still having severe pain and after the first run I had to accept that my season was done. No Transpyrenea for me. Finally went to the doctor, got a MRI and the diagnosis: Stress fracture in the sacrum :( Alongside I had some serious pain in my right shoulder since February which I totally ignored because it was not important for running.

But now with the season gone, I finally paid attention to it. It was a neuralgic thing. Kind of crazy stuff which also looked weird (scapula alata)...Yeah! It really was about time to heal up and reset.

 

2)    How did you feel about your injury (especially as an active person, being used to exercise and compete)?

 

Not so well. Although I heard it coming quite a while I asked myself: Why now? I was so dissapointed that I wasn't able to compete in the Transpyrenea which was a big project. But running means a lot more to me than just racing. I love being out in nature and although I always crosstrain when injured it's never the same. I miss the simplicity of the movement. So it was tough to keep spirits high. 

 

3)    What did you do while being injured (other activities, hobbies, new stuff etc.?)

 

Cycling (Indoorbike), Aquajogging, Mountainbiking; Mobilisation & Stretching; Couching "doing nothing & trying to be fine with it"...Actually Mountainbiking was quite enjoyable and kind of a new thing for me. 

 

4)    How long did it take you to heal, to get back to your normal life, get back into training?

 

Sacrum Stress fracture took 6 weeks; After that I slowly got back to running; Shoulder injury took a whole year until full rehabilitation but was not detrimental to running. But since it was a whole series of injuries it felt like a whole year of not being able to train properly and, much important, not being able to be out in the mountains as I would have wished.

 

5)    How did your rehab / recovery program look like?

 

Cross training and just resting time to heal for the stress fracture; mobilisation & biofeedback for the shoulder.

 

6)    How did you overcome your injury – physically, mentally? Any tips?

 

Physically I just needed to give my body the time to heal up. Took me some time to understand that, but our bodies have this incredible ability to heal themselves. But we need to be patient and listen to our body's signals. Mentally it was a tough game. So not being able to run was definitly weighing heavily on my spirits. I tried to focus on other things. When you spend a lot of hours running each day, sometimes other stuff is left undone. Now I had the time to do these things. Also I spent more time with friends, music, read some books and slept a lot more than usual. There are a lot of enjoyable things beside running. But of course I also planned my road back to racing. Made plans for the next season etc. As soon as I accepted the injury and everything that came along with it, I was fine...Try to go with the flow! Never give up! There are better days ahead!

 

7)    Is there anything that the injury taught you?

 

Patience & Listening to my body. It still is an ongoing process but I try to keep my training more balanced and find time to rest up from races and hard workouts. A few days of running are better than a whole year, right?! Furthermore I try to increase my enjoyment for each run, each race, each moment in the mountains! Just go with the flow! Be present! Live now ;-)

 

 

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