How Different Personality Runners Cope With Running Injuries

by | 29 Sep 2021 | Running Injuries

Running is a high impact sport. We thunder and pummel the ground with each step, sometimes for very long miles. Most runners simply never think of injuries, but then, like it or not, running injury does happen.

Some even say that running is basically loads of injury time with some running thrown in between.

There are reasons why runners get hurt – from bad trainers to overtraining, from running hard to running longer than the body likes, from not listening to sage words of other runners to comparing ourselves to and copying other runners who are different and stronger than us.

Most running injuries are niggles and heal quickly. Some are repetitive and need professional help. Some are sudden, bad, and rather unfortunate.

Some runners are clever and lucky and they listen to their bodies carefully and manage to avoid getting hurt for a long time. Still, it is very likely that at some stage we won’t run because of an injury.

Is coping with running injury easy or hard? Well, various types of personalities create various responses and runners are no different.

We all tend to do it in our own ways, some better than others. Let’s take a look.

The Impatient (new) Runner (or how not to cope with running injury

‘A week??? What?! That is forever!!

Whatever can be done to deal with an injury crisis, will be done. If that involves ignoring common sense, doctor’s advice and other runners’ experiences, so be it. Injury is just a word (and some feeling of discomfort, or worse, pain).

‘I can run with a knee like that. It’s only puffed up a little. So what if the skin is a bit tender around it? I’m tougher than that’.

Impatience for many is a recipe for disaster.

Discomfort leads to pain, and pain means that you have already aggravated that injury. And that (surprise, surprise) means that after a run or two, give or take, you will be stopped from running. By that injury.

And the worse the injury, the longer the recovery times. And if you are NOT patient, and the impatient runners are not, the injury will repeat itself indefinitely – or until that runner decides to call it a day and quit running altogether.

All of the different ways to cope with running injuries, this one is the most risky one.

The Pessimist (dark clouds) Runner

‘That’s it, I’m done, I’ll never run again‘.

That’s the usual reaction of a pessimist runner who has a blister under a big toe. Blisters do hurt but are hardly career defining or life threatening. A pessimist runner will see that differently though.

The chasm of sulk will open, dark clouds will gather and the running future shall be no more. That blister will be seen as a gaping wound that will never heal

Of course, our pessimist runner will be running again but the bad thoughts will never leave. There will be other injuries so no point in trying to lift up that runner’s mood.

Autumn will bring the leaves and we all know how slippery they are. Winter ice will surely cause slips and falls, and spring rains are always treacherous. Don’t let that guy even start about the perils of running in the summer sun. However, the pessimist runner still runs regardless. I’ll give that guy credit for that.

Staying positive and patient helps to cope with running injuries
Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

The Optimist Runner (or one of the best ways to cope with running injuries)

‘Ok, it’s just a busted knee, I’ll be fine’.

There is no way that any injury will dampen that guy’s mood. When that runner limps out of a physio’s surgery, aided by crutches, having just been told that his ankle is unlikely to be healed until at least 12 weeks from now, that guy will have already made plans. His way of coping with a running injury is simple:

’12 weeks is not that bad and it gives me enough time to work on other muscle groups. I can even swim or cycle. I’m so lucky to have all this time to work out’.

No sulking in the optimist runner department. It’s all about a better future, stronger running once the body’s ready again and multiple training ideas. By the time the 12 week period is out she/he will have studied about the anatomy, the best shoes, the most exciting running tops and vitamin drinks, and crucially, the time in the world of the optimist runner simply flies.

The Trusting Runner (or ‘delegating’ style of coping with running injury)

‘Right, this exercise for my injured runner’s knee does not feel right BUT as my doctor recommended it, it must be right for me’.

Trusting runner will trust the doctor unconditionally, no matter what. That guy will be coping with a running injury the way he’s been told to do. Forget about instincts or natural doubts, whatever the guy in the white coat says it is the law.

I once got asked to work on my wonky knee by practising Bulgarian squats (look them up on YouTube). I knew if I did it that my injury would amplify the existing issue, I simply felt it. I raised that point with the physio who dismissed my reasoning and simply asked me to be persistent with that workout.

I changed the physio and my new therapist confirmed my fears and found something more appropriate for me.

A trusting runner would not do as I did. They would follow the doc’s orders to the last letter and work them through gritted teeth, never actually managing to figure out why on earth that knee never heals.

But, to their credit, at least they have the ever so important peace of mind.

The Problem-Busting Type (The Unstoppable Runner)

‘Ok, let’s see what I can do about this’.

These runners can be unstoppable when it comes to plethora of ideas and solutions. No injury will be too bad, there will always be a solution that they will find.

‘Doctor? Pfffft, I can figure this out myself’.

They will turn everything upside down, there will be bags of ice and peas, vitamins and painkillers, home-made exercises coming out of nowhere, experiments all around. What doesn’t work will be dismissed, another plan in place straight after.

That injury, if it could, would actually fear that guy.

That guy will work it out and by listening to instincts and the body, will find the solution. Ways to cope with running injury? Problem big or small, the resolve will be found. When? That’s irrelevant. We are here to heal, not waste time. They are not in the business of asking questions.

They don’t do many questions but they certainly offer many answers.

maintain positive mindset for coping with running injury
Photo by Yogi Purnama on Unsplash

The Dramatic Runner

‘Dear lord, look at this foot, I must ring an emergency. No wait, I must find the best surgeon. I mean, look at it, my foot will come off’.

Can a dramatic runner figure out the best way of coping with running injury? Most probably not. That runner will send dozens of WhatsApp photos to her/his wretched friends of a (relatively) normal looking foot, crying emojis everywhere.

Trying to remain composed but with a trembling voice they will repeatedly call (read waste time) their doctor with constant updates.

‘I think this is getting worse. I KNOW this is getting worse. This IS getting worse, I can SEE it’.

That guy will be completely oblivious to the fact that she/he is actually performing the art of walking by using that foot without too many problems, except for that awkward niggle that will heal by the weekend.

That runner will turn it all into a proper operatic tragedy littered by the darkest scenarios (especially as they Google ‘amputations’, ‘gangrene’ and ‘blood poisoning’).

Their friends will for years listen to detailed descriptions of their terrible woes. (God, imagine what they’re like when they really get hurt……)

patience help to cope with running injury
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The Old Sage Runner

‘Time and nature will help me heal’.

The closest one could come to a running philosopher is a middle aged pragmatic runner.

‘What exactly is the meaning of running injuries, what is their greater purpose (if any) and what is the meaning of their existence? Is the happiness through running, or the misery of injury time, just chemicals circulating through our bodies? And can we as humans fathom the true depths of the reality of running injuries or the existence of running itself?

This runner simply knows that an ankle injury is an ankle injury and depending on its severity it takes a certain period of time for it to heal. Coping with running injury is a process where time cannot be pushed, you will be ready when you are ready.

And when’s that?’ You may ask.

When you ARE ready’. They will answer. ‘Not before or after’.

No despair here, just the cold reality of a situation. Good times will be back, bad times will be forgotten. Just like the laws of living intended it.

These guys live off experience and know their stuff.

And so. How are we then to cope with running injury? Clearly in various ways. Different personality types and different reactions will bring out different solutions. Good or bad. Some of us will mix several types of behaviour, and as a result the outcomes may be good, bad or less bad.

Books have been written about running injuries, how to cope with them and how to avoid them. But different types do not necessarily follow the advice, or may not be lucky to avoid injuries even if they do follow the good guide.

And what do I personally do when I’m injury stricken? I’ve tried all seven types over the years and learned that time and patience (and a bit of luck) could do wonders. I also learned to listen to my body, learn from my past running mistakes and accept my abilities for what they are.

But the important thing is, focus on the fun of running. Always. An injury will be just a small obstacle before the fun continues again. Keep that thought!

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I hope that sharing my story, and what I have learned along this journey, will inspire you to get started and to keep going. To keep striving and being the best you can be. In running and in life.

Be.Your.Best.

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