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When It Hurts-Stages of Runner’s Grief

When It Hurts-Stages of Runner’s Grief

My first 5k, 6/2011. Look at how new and white my shoes are!

I started running in April 2011. I never ran in my life. I was going through a rough patch, and i needed a mental escape. I started by taking walks, and then a light jog, and then a loop, a mile, and then my goal 5k. I completed my second marathon this past October, life is good, but i still enjoy the escape. It keeps my feet light, brings me perspective, and allows me to be me.

When i began, I only knew 2 people who ran. I had seen people on the treadmill and a few on the streets but didn’t really know anyone who ran, not the way I wanted to run. So, i did alot of reading. I read all the warnings and horrible things that could happen, wrong socks give you blisters, run too fast you’ll get shin splints. I believe your head could spin off with all of the information on the internet when you google search “running”.

Along the way, ive also google searched,, and web md,’d every ache pain and mystery symptom related to running. Ive googled every remedy, homeopathic, holistic, pharmaceutical, surgical and experimental. I have sat up late nights comparing my pains, deciding if they are just pain, or if I should start calling myself “injured”. Debating sitting out, slowing down, crying and quitting. Most times, the pain subsides, the swelling goes down, i have a great run and its done. Like dodging a bullet, relieved, i carry on.

Lately, ive been injured. And worse than the actual injury itself, is the mental unpreparedness over the series of emotions you go through, when it hurts.

I’ve decided to break it down. Kind of like the phases of grief with less crying. (I hope) So, if you are injured, read along and together we will find our way through this physically and emotionally painful time.

Image1. Denial– That little tweak, that pain, that moment going up the steps feels..uhm. funny. You can’t put your finger on it, you may even blame it on anything BUT running. Maybe it doesn’t hurt enough to stop.

When it hurts, you can’t believe it.

2. Anger/Despair– It hits you, it hurts, and now you are facing the fact that denying, your injury and ignoring your injury is sidelining you. You are mad at yourself, mad at not listening to your body, or others.

When it hurts. You could cry.

3. Envy– Your February issue of Runner’s world shows up on your step. Your friends are running, Your streets are suddenly filled with runners. New shoe lines are announced on facebook, race schedules are coming out. You are jealous. You are feeling left out.

When it hurts, You start to think about a back up plan.

4. Acceptance– Its time, youve tried everything. You have iced, foam rolled, rested. This is a euphoric stage. The sun comes out, you can see the total picture. You begin to realize that you don’t have to be injured forever.

When it hurts. You call the doctor.Image

5. Renewed Motivation– This stage is the hardest to get to. You have to dig deep. It has to be real, and you have to want it. You have been given all the information you need and the tools to heal. Whether it is rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, or surgery. You are in recovery, The time has come to set a new goal. Maybe it’s a pain free mile, maybe it’s a marathon. Maybe it is a goal to prevent this injury ever again. But get there. Get motivated. Begin again.

When it hurts. You put that goal in marker on you calendar.

 6. Inspire– This is it. You feel good. You are light again. It is now time to share your story. Help others along. Ride next to them on the bike, or take a swim in the pool with them, Inspire someone through an injury, don’t let them get stuck in a phase alone. You were there. Be a friend, slow down.

When it hurts. You give her a hug and tell her she will be O.K.

I’m going in to spring season with a wacky hamstring/glute injury. It is from overuse. Yes. I knew it. and YES i knew I waited too long. I’m scaling back, I’m working on other things. I’m in phase 6. I got here. I’m staying. I will listen to my body, I will listen to my Dr., I will be better. Maybe I will be better than before.

I’ve got Three weeks until Central Park Half Marathon, NYC! I will be ready. My goal is not a P.R.(Personal Record), it’s a goal for a P.F. (Pain Free)

Run Jersey Strong,



About she runs jersey strong

Mother, wife, runner. Club president of Southern Ocean Ladies Running Club. Race Director/Event planner Shamrocks For Sandy Run.

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