Coping with injury – Jenn Woodrow


Last summer I did something which made me the happiest I have ever been in my life. I had just started an exciting placement year working in London, however all my Uni friends were spread all over the world.

I was really enjoying work but found the evenings hard as I was living at home and I didn’t have many friends there as they were all away. Being a sport enthusiast, I decided to join a new club to give me a new social circle.

I had always found athletics fun at school and figured that I wasn’t atrocious at it (except for sprinting anything involving arm strength!) so I joined the distance running group at my local athletics club.

I was ready to accept that running wasn’t for me

The club offers three taster sessions before you join and, I’m not going to lie, after struggling to keep up with everyone during the warm-up of the first session, I was ready to leave and accept that running wasn’t for me…

To cut a long story short, I didn’t quit. In fact, I did quite the opposite. My coach believed in me and I trusted him. Within a month, I had cut my 5k PB by over a minute. I progressed quickly and this drove me to try even harder. I had also found an amazing new group of friends. I had begun to wonder why I had never run before. It felt so good. I felt so alive. I felt free.

In February, just months after I had begun the sport, I was thrown in to the deep end and competed at the National Cross-Country Championships. The week after, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to run the London Vitality half-marathon with a group of friends from work. The whole event was one of the best experiences of my life and I was buzzing when I went back to training the week after.

I didn’t give my body enough rest

But this was the problem. I didn’t give my body enough rest and I got injured. I have not run since then. I wanted to write this blog because it has been a real challenge trying to stay positive through this period of injury.

Initially, I was devastated and couldn’t focus on anything else except for wanting to run more than anything and I couldn’t. I was constantly in pain and couldn’t sit down without hurting. Although I was really happy for my friends who were excelling in races and challenges and enjoying the many benefits of physical activity, every time I saw someone coming back into the office from a run or I saw a post about some sporting achievement someone had made, it brought me down.

Focusing on what I can do

I am still injured and will likely be for a while, but my attitude has changed. For a start, I have actively sought out alternative forms of exercise that I can do instead of focusing on what I can’t do. For example, I have started to pay my upper body more attention in the gym and work more on my core which, in the long run, will help with my running when I get back to it! I have also re-ignited my love for swimming (although I do look a little strange just swimming with hand flippers sometimes!). I am setting myself different challenges and am enjoying the variety of my new workouts. Instead of focusing on runners who are fit on social media, I am paying more attention to those who are in a similar boat to me. For example, @teenrunnerblog and @racewithgrace are two young elite runners who have suffered from injury but are coming back stronger because of it. And that’s what I am going to do too.

It is not going to be the end of my running career and put me off sport for ever. I will come back stronger. Watch this space!


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