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How to Be a Resilient Runner

By Ashley Miess, 02/25/15, 3:30PM EST

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How to triumph despite these three common setbacks.

My relationship with running has often felt like a roller coaster. Representing a Division I institution as a member of the cross country and track teams was the opportunity of a lifetime and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. But at times, trials and tribulations threatened my love for the sport.

Whether you’re a collegiate athlete, weekend warrior or newbie, you’re bound to experience situations that test your running adoration. Here’s how to overcome any hurdle in your path – and stride away as a stronger runner.

You’re injured.

Ever heard of an osteochondral defect? I hadn’t either — until it required me to be in a walking cast for six weeks my freshman year of college. From hip bursitis to patellofemoral pain syndrome, I’ve discovered more about the human body through my running injuries than I did in anatomy class. I’ve also learned that the body has a remarkable ability to heal itself, which means that the pain plaguing you one day may never return. How do you survive an injury without going insane? It helps to realize that running isn’t your life — it’s simply a part of it. Running is something that you like to do and that brings you a bounty of benefits, from fitness to friendship. But even if running were gone forever, you would still be the same amazing, beautiful person that you are. Although you may not be able to lace up your shoes with your runner friends for awhile, they will still like you. Your non-runner friends may even like you better since you’ll finally be forced to talk about something besides running.

You’re dealing with a huge life change.

In addition to injuries, I experienced several coaching changes in college that required me to adapt to new training plans. It’s possible to maintain your mileage through life’s major milestones. Whether you’re dealing with a personal or professional issue, don’t let it negatively impact your running. Instead, use running as therapy. It’s the ideal opportunity for you to unplug and be one with your thoughts. You should feel the tension melt away with each mile. Running can also give you a renewed strength, enabling you to respond to adversity. If you can muster the mental toughness to tackle those hill repeats or finish your first 5K, you can do anything.

You’re feeling overwhelmed.

With cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, collegiate running consists of essentially no offseason. I was expected to perform day in and day out. Whenever running felt like it was becoming a burden, I reminded myself why I had fallen in love with the sport in the first place. Running has given me so much, and that’s why I keep coming back to it. Running legend Steve Prefontaine once said, “You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” Are you aiming to shed fifteen pounds or run a mile without stopping? Think of what’s driving you to reach your goal. Rely on that when times get tough. Take a deep breath and move forward one step at a time.

Have you dealt with setbacks in your running? How did you bounce back from them?

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