Nothing is more frustrating to a runner than a nagging injury. We'll of course there is the blowing up in a big race or missing the PR by a second, but the injury still takes the prize in my book. About a month ago I was half-sidelined with a knee injury that caused a pain that was unfamiliar. Unsure of the cause or actual diagnosis I was disheartened, but steadfast on rehabbing the right way despite a race booked in early April. I backed off my mileage, vowed to run no more than every other day, became good friends with the bag of frozen corn in my freezer, and focused on strengthening the leg. This weekend I made a minor breakthrough and was able to get in a couple quality runs, zeroing in on my tempo pace and adding extra miles. It's always a tough battle to know when you can push through an injury or when you should stop. Luckily I was blessed to choose the right combination to get my back on the trails sooner than later. If I learned anything from this experience, it was to be patient and listen to your body. I am far from being in the clear, but was given confidence in the fact that I am moving in the right direction.
Life is busy, families are important, and work is a necessity. With that said, where does running fit into the equation? I would like to propose that priorities should not be ranked in a linear fashion, but instead as a Venn diagram. Think of the major life components as intricate circles that must coexist. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that your fitness is more important than your family. It is not. However, a proper balance is the key to overall happiness for you and those who surround you. Running clearly involves sacrifices...sleep, relaxation, time with others, household and work projects, etc. It is hard enough to stay motivated on a daily basis to get up early or squeeze in that run before midnight. It is harder when you begin to rationalize skipping runs to spend time with family and friends. There will be weeks or months in which your running may be limited and vice versa. Be flexible, stay committed to long-term fitness, and surround yourself with those who will keep you accountable and stress proper balance.
Bryan Brander, Ed.D.
Runner, coach, leader, mentor, consultant, husband, father, believer.