How to Stay Motivated While You’re Injured

There’s nothing fun about injuries in any sport, but there’s one thing about running and other endurance sports injuries that makes them particularly devilish.

They generally happen when you’re the most excited about your training.

The reason why is pretty obvious — running injuries don’t usually happen suddenly, say, when another runner tackles you or punches you in the forehead.

You might slip or fall or roll an ankle every now and then, but most often, the injuries that sideline runners and endurance athletes are the result of overuse. We get big ideas about an upcoming race, or we fall in love all over again with running — and when we do, we run more.

More miles. Faster pace. More speedwork. We start running on our off days, or cross-training at the very least. It’s all going so great …

Until one day it isn’t. Something hurts, and gets worse. You have to stop altogether.

And then you go crazy.

Almost all of us have been there. And while there’s no one solution other than patience, there are things you can do to temper the frustration and disappointment and stay motivated until you can get back out there.

In this episode of NMA radio, Doug and I answer a few questions from Facebook and then talk to Mike Wardian, an elite vegetarian marathoner and ultrarunner who most recently won this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in DC, placed third at the 135-mile Badwater ultramarathon in 2011, and currently happens to be sidelined with an injury of his own.

Here’s how this month’s episode shakes out:

  • How do you stay positive when you’re not at 100%? (2:40)
  • When do you know to get back to training after an injury? (7:25)
  • How do you maintain fitness while you’re recovering? (9:40)
  • What’s the best way to start back up once you’re cleared to run again? (12:10)
  • Mike Wardian interview starts (17:40)
  • Doug and Matt wrap it up (50:40)
  • Beer or wine at Thanksgiving dinner table? (53:15)

Click the button below to listen now:


Links from the show:

Our phone number where you can call in to submit your question for next episode: 707-786-3429

Big thanks to Mike Wardian for taking the time to hang out with us!



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  1. I’ve been injured for the last 6 month now and I need stuff like this to get me motivated. But at least I’ve learned that patience (or long-term perspective) is the best way to train in my “running”.
    Thanks for the nice podcast

  2. Oh my gosh, thank you for this! I’m absolutely bookmarking this post for the next time I’m injured (or sick). I had surgery over the summer that required me to stop exercising for 5 days, and I felt like I was literally going crazy. It’s one of the hardest things to get through when you are so used getting an endorphin rush everyday. I literally sobbed the first morning when my body was like, “Okay, it’s 8am, why is our heart rate not up?” Not fun. But thank you for the good advice on how to get through it. : )

  3. Unfortunately I got injured a year ago. Since then I cant run more than a mile and sometimes I get muscle pains randomly through the day.
    This is really uncomfortable and it is causing me huge physical and mental stress.
    I will try your advice – I do hope this will work well for me.
    Thank you for your great post!

  4. Listened to this while on a run today, so obviously I’m not injured now, but I know what it’s like to return to running after major accident injuries which had most of my doctors saying that running was a thing of my past.
    Thanks for addressing this topic… it is a key one for runners and anyone else who exercises regularly. Our bodies are amazing and can recover amazingly well, but we need to give them the right environment. As you mentioned in the podcast.. that might mean total rest or switching to other exercises to give our injured muscles a break.
    The other key thing I learned while recovering was from my hospital dietitian. She told me that how I eat will determine how I will heal. I wasn’t sure I believed her at first, but with a little experimenting I realized she was right. After switching to a plant-based diet, I healed better and today I feel better than I ever imagined that I would!

  5. I currently have my arm broken, cannot cook or wash dishes properly – it’s a pain in the… Well, arm. But at least I can browse the internet and read your articles Matt 😉

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