Things You Shouldn’t Say to an Injured Runner

Hi everyone!  I’m still recovering from my weekend of sugar and carbs over here, is anyone else feeling the same?  And sadly, I’m still recovering from my running injury (missed the details?  Check out this post to get caught up!).  Although I’m meeting with my PT tomorrow and I’m hoping for good news – especially because I signed up for an ugly sweater race a while ago and it’s coming up next weekend and I’d love to run even just a mile of it instead of walking the whole thing!  It’s officially been over a month since my last run and while I’m really glad I decided to go to the doctor and give myself a break so that I could fully recover and stop the hip pain, I’m starting to get a bit impatient to get out there again.  I’m in a positive place mentally, but it just gets old after a while.  Plus, being an injured runner is no fun at all.  The things people have been saying to me are crazy!  If you’ve never been injured, here’s some tips on what NOT to say to an injured runner (and yes, these are all direct quotes from the past month!):

injury murderI haven’t murdered anyone yet, even with all of the following real conversations I’ve had!

– “This is probably for the best, you were too obsessed with running anyways”.  First of all, I’m not.  I’m a slow runner who runs 3 times a week at around 10-15 miles per week.  If I’m not training for something I just do easy runs each time and I don’t have a coach or even a real running club that I belong to.  I just like to talk and blog about running and I like running races.  That does NOT make me “obsessed” with running, which holds a connotation that it’s somehow a bad thing to run.  The tone in which this one was said to me really got under my skin too.  I felt like I was being judged for being a runner and they were happy that I was somehow “free” from that burden.  Ugh.

-“Aren’t you going to die without being able to work out?”.  Um, no?  I’m cleared to spin, use the elliptical, and do yoga (as long as the poses don’t involve standing on one leg).  I’m going to keep working out even though I can’t run.  And on that note…

-“I don’t think you should be going to spin class, don’t you think you’re pushing yourself too much?  You’ll get injured again!”.  *screams internally* If my doctor clears me to do an activity, and then literally writes it on my weekly workout list to be completed three times a week, I’m pretty sure that means that I can do it.  If it hurts at all, I’ll stop and consult my doctor.  I trust his opinion on this topic more than anyone else.  This one was actually said to me by multiple people so there has been lots of internal screaming over the last month.

– “Why are you so upset?  Do you feel like you’ll lose your identity as a “runner” now that you’re injured?”.  To be fair, this one was said with kindness and concern for my mental well being.  And it really did get me thinking about what injuries can mentally do to runners who strongly identify as a “runner” and can get upset when that ability is taken away from them.  But this was said right after my diagnosis (like seriously an hour later) and I hadn’t had time to let everything sink in yet.  I feel that questions like this can come later.  Don’t rush an injured runner into thinking about their “lost running identity”.  On day one I thought for sure I’d never be a runner again, but now I’m much more positive about things and know I’ll be back to running soon – and I’ll be better and more careful than ever before.

-“I wish my doctor would tell me not to run!”.  This is another one that I’ve been hearing a lot.  I know running is not liked by many people and that’s totally okay – but just imagine if I said this about something that you like to do.  It might sound amazing to have a doctor ban you from doing an unwanted activity to give you an excuse not to do it, but this is something I really love doing and I don’t plan on using it as an excuse to slack off.  I never could figure out how to respond to this one without sounding upset, so now I just stand there until they stop laughing and then I change the subject.

-“Do you want to go for a run/sign up for that race?  Oh wait…sorry…”.  This one makes me sad every time someone does this to me, even when I know it’s an accident.  I miss my running friends and signing up for all the races so I hate saying no!  I have zero races booked for 2016 just to be safe, and it’s killing me!

you are crazyI’m only crazy because people won’t stop saying these things to me!

I get that running is not everyone’s idea of a fun time.  But it’s one of my favorite hobbies, and I miss it a lot.  And I don’t see anything wrong with missing something that I enjoy doing and that’s good for my mind and body.  So maybe tell me you’re sorry to hear that I can’t run right now and that you can’t imagine how this must feel for me.  Offer to do other workouts with me instead of running.  Ask about my progress and get excited about it with me.  And don’t try to make it about you and your negative relationship with running or working out.  I’ve learned to not talk to non-runners (especially my mom who is always worried about me!) about my injury progress because it’s just easier to get through it alone with my positive thoughts instead of their negative/hurtful ones.  And I’ve been spending lots of time working on my hip strength and mental strength so that I’ll be a much stronger person once I’m cleared to run again!  No matter how long it takes before I run again, I know I’ve got this  🙂

Have you ever been injured?  What’s the worst thing someone has ever said to you while you were waiting to run again?  And what is something you wish people would say when you’re injured instead of these things?

25 thoughts on “Things You Shouldn’t Say to an Injured Runner

  1. @Patience: I wanted to take a week (or two) off from running due to the pain I had in my calf (first I thought it was shin splints, but was wrong). Instead I started a slow jog with my son in the buggy and daughter on the buggy board just to see if I was still in pain and do you know what? For some reason the pain was gone. Maybe it was just a blogged nerve (will check with the doc today).
    I get what you mean with “nice advises/etc.”. I am gluten-lactose-soya intolerant AND vegetarian and my parents often say, I should eat something proper though I am not the one with (serious) health issues!!!
    @Worst thing ever said: Maybe you should consider an other sport!!!
    If someone loves something so much, you can’t just say, look for something else. OUTRAGE!!!
    It would be much nicer, if people would suggest to do another kind of sport together until you are able to run again!

      1. Same here. Whatever new I try, I always end back up running… And because I love it so much, I decided I will spend the whole winter in my running clothes and will run everywhere in addition to my training!

  2. You’ll ruin your knees was just a favorite refrain of my mom when I started to run. She had done no research to back you up, mind you, it’s just what everyone thinks/says. And of course I have dealt with knee pain, but it hasn’t actually ruined my knees. Plus she’s come around to deciding I look good (very superficial of her, but to her it’s important) so running must be good after all.

    The other favorite refrain is that that would kill her. Well, duh, of course, you haven’t trained for it. If you did, you could, even at your age. It might even make you happier. But we won’t go there.

    Somewhere along the line as a runner you just have to realize that non-runners don’t get it. Remember, we were them once, too. So just scream La La La in your head while they’re talking. 🙂

    1. OMG the knees thing! My knees never hurt so I have no idea why people keep saying that to me. And my mom is also saying that running a half marathon would kill her too. So silly. Normally I’m able to brush it off but without my usual running routine I’m a bit crankier than usual when they bring it up 🙂

  3. ^ I get that one a lot from a lady at work. I’m like, “Really? I’m not even 29, my knees are fine, and I love running, so STOP.” Just keep doing what the doctor says and ignore the stupids.

  4. Oh my goodness, I’m so glad no one said any of those things to me when I was injured. I would flip! My doctor told me that maybe I wasn’t just meant to run during my last injury. Yes, please, tell me to stop doing my main source of exercise. My mom also tells me that I hurt more than anyone she knows…
    I hope you are feeling better soon so you can run a bit of your face!

    1. Ugh doctors are the worst! I had a bad one back in January when I was semi-injured, and he just talked about he 30 minute 10k and how he would “die” if someone had told him not to run at my age. Thanks for letting me pay you to tell me that.

    1. I’m so glad you’re better! But it sucks we all had to go through crazy questions while we’re stressed and trying to feel better. People are so silly.

  5. ugh those all sound so frustrating to hear! way not to snap at them, i’m not sure i would have been able to :p i think the worst i heard when i hurt my ankle and it messed up my half marathon pr plans was “i mean, you were only trying to break 2:30; you’ll get that in no time. i would be SUPER pissed if i was trying to go like, really fast, and then couldn’t do it.” UMMM, 2:30 IS fast for ME. i’ve been working hard toward that time for forever now! ugh.
    anywho, fingers crossed for good news this week!

    1. Oh. My. God. If I ever break 2:30 I will die! It’s currently my biggest goal and I just couldn’t do it this year and it drove me nuts. I hate people who insult our fast times. And I think I was more in shock when it happened and didn’t know what to say. I hate confrontation!

  6. You know I feel you here! That’s part of why I wrote my what CAN you say to an injured runner post. I honestly hate hearing as well: well, now at least you are learning a lesson that you can share with your clients.
    Um, what lesson? What is the lesson to learn here? That being hurt, and for no reason, sucks? TOOLS

    1. Oh I loved that post! People need to control themselves around injured runners before they say something hurtful! And that’s an awful thing to say to you!

  7. I get spoiled by the online running community and forget that outside folks can be really negative. It’s obnoxious. I haven’t been injured for a long period of time, so I haven’t heard some of those, but I hate when people find out you run long distances and start in on the, “you’ll ruin your knees.” “You know, so and so died of a heart attack right after a marathon. Everyone thought he was healthy. See what running did?” Ugh. I’ve worked with a lot of people who don’t work out and they tend to be the ones to make negative comments. Sometimes it’s due to an insecurity about lack of activity.
    Anywho, take time to heal. You’ll be back out there in no time! 🙂

    1. I hate that!!!! What is up with the knee stuff? I’ve never had knee problems as a runner! And for real, it’s all from people who don’t like to workout. I can see why they feel better putting me down for running, but it’s really annoying and makes it hard to be their friend sometimes. Why can’t we all just say nice things?

    1. Thanks! Yes, this will probably be funny in a few weeks so I’m just going to keep on keeping on until I get better 🙂

    1. UGHHHH WHY! Especially from a doctor! I just want to tell them that if they’re trying to be funny it’s not working.

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