How to Keep Fit When You're Injured

| by Fit Bottomed Girls

Today we’re featuring an Ask the FBGs post. This feature allows readers like you to ask the FBGs for advice. Nothing is off limits, although we do prefer that it’s fitness or nutrition related, so send your undying health questions to [email protected]. You just might see them posted on the site in the future!

Dear FBGs,

I’ve never been a runner. I’ve always wanted to be a runner, but I’ve had three knee surgeries, possess the will power of a 5-year-old, and have to regularly talk myself out of stopping at the cupcake store that just opened across the street from me (buttercream frosting to die for!). Though I have logged my fair share of hours in the gym, I have never dared to try to enter the unattainable world of the runner.

Yes, I’ve watched enviously as women in my neighborhood run past with their perfect, undimpled thighs and gazelle-like form, but there’s something about it that seemed out of reach. Like trying to do a cartwheel after the age of 30. Could I do it? Maybe. Should I do it? Maybe not. I’m not a big risk taker. I typically keep my workouts in the safe zone—elliptical machine, recumbent bike or the treadmill. To run is to be wild, to be free. Women who run are self confident. They are comfortable saying “no.” They don’t wrap a towel around their waist at the beach. They climb the corporate ladder with ease. Men swoon. Dogs cower. Sales girls flee. They are everything I’m not.

Becoming a runner seemed like too much of a stretch. And then everything changed. I hit 40. So I decided that this was going to be the year. The year I turned it all around. The year I became…a runner. I was going to run like the wind. My ponytail would make that methodical swish-swish motion as I ran past all those poor schlumpadinkas who walk briskly and try to pass it off as real cardio. I would run past the walkers, past the doubt, and into a world of self confidence and firm thighs.

Now, I’m a realist and I knew in order to achieve my lofty new goal, I would need to work up to running. So about a month ago, I started interval training on the treadmill. Run 30 seconds, walk 2 minutes. Repeat until gasping for air. Yes, I knew it was going to hurt a little, but I figured it’s 30 seconds. I can do anything for 30 seconds. I can hold my breath for 30 seconds. So off I went…ponytail in full swish mode.

Well dear FBG girls, I’m now four weeks in, down 130 bucks on primo running shoes (Runner’s World editor’s pick) and have purchased two “moderate support” knee braces, and have just been informed by my doctor that the nagging pain in my right knee that has plagued me for the past two weeks is not, as originally thought, a pulled muscle, but it is (get ready for it) a broken shin bone! That’s right ladies…my leg, is in fact, broken. And the dream dies.

So I write to you and your readers in desperate need of a little inspiration. In short, I need a pep talk. I can’t work out, I’m on crutches for the next 6 weeks, and I can literally HEAR myself getting fatter with each carb I eat. This is not the vision I had in my head. In my head I was fit, confident and breezy. Now I’m sedentary, insecure and neurotic. Help! I need a boost (and some suggestions on how I can incorporate crutches into a cardio workout). The buttercream is calling!

Hoping to hear some words of wisdom,

—Dream Runner (AKA Kristin)

Hello Dream Runner,

Thanks for your email! So sorry to hear about your injuries. Believe me, I understand. I am just now recovered from a running injury that happened in January, and I went through a pretty rough time during recovery. So what’s an injured girl like you to do? Anything you can, we say!

As someone who is on the other side of the injured tunnel [injury tunnel?] (finally!), I would try to stay as positive as you can and see this as a time to try new things, focus on yourself and learn more about the motivation behind your goals. I would try a Pilates ab DVD (hoping you have enough mobility to do that) or a DVD with a really good upper-body only workout, such as Jackie Warner’s circuit-training DVD. You may also want to check into a new exercise trend called Kranking, which is like spinning but for your arms!

Another non-workout option is to try something like meditation. Sometimes the hardest part of being injured is your mind freaking out that you’ll gain weight or lose everything that you’ve worked for. Meditation helps quiet those thoughts and get you more in touch with you.

I would always remember though that it’s just six weeks. It may seem like an eternity now, but if this six weeks is getting you to be the best runner you can be later, it’s worth it, right? So don’t rush it. Listen to your body and it’ll reward you. You’ll be back out there before you know it. Promise!

Keep the running dream alive!

Jenn & Erin

Do you have tips for Kristin? Share them in the comments, please!