What to Do When You Can’t Run

I haven’t run in over 7 weeks. I ran the half and haven’t run since. Yup. It sucks. Being injured sucks. And I have another few running-free weeks to go. Great. Okay I’m going to stop because I sound very whiney and I have so much to be thankful for and overall I am a very healthy and lucky girl.

Focus on the good

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and questioned my training leading up to the half: did I run too much? Did I increase my mileage too quickly? Did I rest enough? Did I cross-train properly?

I really don’t have concrete answers to any of those questions; my thoughts are all over the place. I’m a newbie runner but I love it and I miss it. I caught the running bug and it’s addicting. Maybe I overdid it. Maybe. But like Timone says, you gotta put your past behind ya.

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[Image source] 

So it’s behind me. We live and we learn. Now that I’m not running, for now, I am embracing cross-training. Which is okay. I don’t plan on running another half until May so once this silly knee injury goes away I should have plenty of time to train and hit the pavement.

At first, it was hard to embrace other forms of exercise. I just wanted to run but my body (and doctor) told me that was not a good idea. So I listened. I’ve been doing lots of yoga, I got into spinning, incorporated some strength training and started to box again. I’ve touched on all of these things in previous posts but thought it might be helpful to expand a bit.

Spinning – I was very skeptical at first. I don’t like bikes. I never have. I didn’t like riding them as a kid because the helmet “messed up my hair.” Fact. But I wanted to feel the burn so my doctor suggested I try some spinning classes. Feel the burn I did. It’s a great sweat yet a different kind of workout than running. Your legs definitely get a killer workout but without the pounding. I often close my eyes to pretend that I am by myself. In talking with one of the instructors, she claimed that spinning is the “injury free workout.” I’m sure you can pull muscles but she is definitely close on that one.


Yoga – When I was running, I was doing yoga once or twice a week. Now I aim for three times a week. I vary the intensity of the classes I go to — from Moksha to Vinyassa 1 to Vinyassa 3. I consider Moksha to be active rest while the Vinyassa classes are much more challenging for me. Hot yoga in the winter is amazing — it actually makes me stay in shavasna to stay in the warmth. I love yoga and I think it is beneficial for nearly every sport.


Boxing – Boxing was my first workout love. When I moved back to Toronto, I fell out of touch with it (mainly because I didn’t find a great gym) but over the past couple of weeks I’ve been going to a class here, a class there. From jumping rope, to hitting the heavy bags, to partner pad-work, to weights and push-ups… it’s a really well-rounded workout that doesn’t even feel like a workout because you’re just punching out all your aggression.


Strength training – Before hurting my knee, Crossfit was my main method of strength training. Since I am not cleared for Crossfit either I have been taking some lower intensity strength training classes that I have been liking a lot. The classes are circuit-style using 8-15 pound weights or kettle-bells. Come on biceps, get toned…


Apparently I wear my maroon pants often…

I’ve learned how important cross-training is for runners. You would have thought I might have known this given that I cross-trained for basketball: in the weight room, on the track and in the boxing ring. The idea with cross-training is to improve your fitness and prevent injury [source] by changing things up and doing activities other than your main sport.

My goal when I start running and training for my next half is to focus more on cross-training. I want to keep spinning, strength training and continue to add more variety to my workouts. I love learning from you guys so if you’d like to share your thoughts and experience, I’d be so glad :) Have a wonderful day!


P.S. If you missed this post from Cori last week, this is a great read: Lessons Learned From A Running Injury



Questions of the day…

Are you training for something right now?

How do you incorporate cross-training into your workout regimen? 

31 thoughts on “What to Do When You Can’t Run

  1. I completely understand how you felt when you had to hang up your running shoes for the time bieng. It’s hard. I’ve learned that some days are easer than others. Just remembering how thankful you are for having the ability to do other workouts makes up for it. You made a great list – I’m all for strength training & walking.

  2. Not being able to run sucks (believe me, I’ve been there!) but I’m glad you’re making the most of it and finding other activities you enjoy. I can’t say I really love spinning, but I did find a new love for strength training, circuit style workouts, and incline walking when I couldn’t run. And within the past several months I’ve really fallen in love with yoga too!

  3. Injuries are the pits — no doubt about it. I had to give up snowboarding for a few seasons after busting up my knee, and it was seriously one of the hardest things ever. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever. Yes it sucks to have to be patient, but it’s really not that bad when you look at how many years of running you have ahead of you :)

  4. Being injured sucks. No way around that. I’m actually in a minor injury right now and I’m about to brave the elements for a spin class because it’s my favorite non-running workout besides yoga and zumba and kickboxing. So I would say we have similar taste in fitness classes. Hang in there though, you’ve made it this far, a few more weeks is nothing!

  5. You are right – not running sucks, but I love that you have learned new exercises that you like and that you are moving forward. It’s hard with training for long distances. Training plans are not tailored for each individual person, they don’t take into account how much prior experience you have, and I think a lot of newbies end up hurt. Just because your heart and your lungs are amazing organs and adapt to running those longer distances so quickly does NOT mean that your muscles and ligaments can do it as safely in such little time. I think that’s where I went wrong too. But, now we’ll know and we’ll both come back stronger!

  6. I used to think that all runners ever did was run, and all football players ever did was play football. It wasn’t until high school when my volleyball coach had us weight lift and do sprints that I realized I was completely naive. Haha. If anything a good athlete does an equal balance of exercise both related to their specialization, and exercise that will help strengthen their other muscle groups.

    Boxing sounds fun! I’ve done a few workouts with it before, and then of course on our Wii Fit :P But taking an actual class would be a blast.

  7. Oh girlllll I feel you with this one. Not a running injury of course but getting used to other forms of exercise. Time. It’s all about time, which kind of sucks because you can never be sure of how much time it’s going to take to heal. But you are right—stay positive because there’s so much to be thankful for!

  8. Injuries definitely suck, so I love how you’re finding new workouts to keep yourself occupied. And I’m with you on boxing – I always leave that class in such a happy mood…all the aggression just gets punched out ;-)
    Having to sit out on running definitely sucks, but as soon as the injury is gone you’ll be back at it, and stronger in the long run!

  9. Injuries are the worst! I can totally relate. When I was injured, I tried to focus on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t do and it’s amazing what other workouts you can find out there!

  10. I definitely understand! I’m glad you have found so many other things that you can do, and even one that’s an intense workout like spin. Recently I had to take some days off of skating, start again cautiously, and re-start my PT exercises for my knees, so I have a bit of an idea how you are feeling. Luckily I saw the knee pain creeping up and took measures, it’s not like I am at the point where I have to stop my skating. I’m sure you will be watching your knees more carefully in the future. Don’t know whether you will be able to do heavy squats and so forth in Crossfit, though, that type of thing is not gonna happen again for me and that’s OK.

  11. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that injury that’s keeping you from something you love. I TOTALLY relate because I was out for months from my first love of beach volleyball when I was dealing with shoulder issues. That’s oddly enough how I started running distances. But I would run by the courts and see all my friends playing and get really depressed. I love that you are finding alternate ways to exercise though. Too many people just give up because they can’t do the one thing that want to do.

  12. Ahh injuries are definitely frustrating. I was off and on for a year before I gave myself the rest I needed to recover 100%. I’m training for my second half soon and will definitely be incorporating more yoga, strength, and cross training.

  13. I hear you there! I injured my knee (the same knee I had ACL repair done on) after running two half marathons last spring way too close together. My fault. But now that I’m back into running a little (maybe 3 or 5 miles a week :/ ) I’m conditioning a ton! I do strength trainig 3x/week, dance rehearsals 2-3/week, spinning 2x/week, and then I switch things up on Sunday with long walks, hikes, yoga, runs etc. I hope to get into training for a half again in the spring but we shall see!

  14. I have recently come to a similar place with my non-running status. I’ve been really loving weights and the elliptical and yoga, and I am at a point where I am okay with that. I will still get the itch to run when I hear a really great song or something, but I can get over it.

  15. I’ve dialed my running right back since my half and increased my strength training. I saw my physio last week and he said my lower back and legs are in much better shape stability wise and strength wise than they were at the time of my half and by building up my strength in the long term it will help my running.

    I think all these exercises will help with your running long term too so that when you start again you’ll be less likely to get injured again.

  16. I still see this as abit of blessing in disguise- you are going to kill your next marathon and a bonus- you’ve had the chance to experience all these new forms of exercise! :)

    Still can’t wait to see you get back into Crossfit!

  17. As you know, running injuries (especially recently) have taught me a ton. You are rocking this, whether it feels like it right now or not, and you are and you’re inspiring others along the way.

    Sending <3 and hugs friend!

  18. I haven’t run longer than a half mile in about 6 months, not due to injury just general burn out (obviously I’m not a real runner ;-)) but I have loved getting back into the other forms of exercise that I neglected while I was focused on running. And I know you will be back out there in no time, but I’m glad you are enjoying cross training in the mean time. :-)

  19. I got injured while running and tried spinning and can’t believe how much I love it! It’s a huge challenge and I love the mental challenge it gives as well (seriously half way through class I’m usually convinced my legs are going to fall off!). Hope you’re healing and you’ll be back out there soon!

  20. I hate not being able to run whenever I feel like it. It sucks. But you know what? Running will ALWAYS be there for us. Our routes will be there. The roads, the shoes, the cold weather… it’s all there, and it will be there when we can go back to it. :)

  21. I know you’re injury is taking a toll, but it’s great that you’re actively trying new workouts in the meantime. My fiancé is a physical therapy student so he’s a huge advocate (and always reminding me) to make sure to stretch and let my body rest and heal properly. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in a fitness goal that it’s hard to remember that too much exercise can cause more harm than good. Glad to see you are listening to your body and finding new ways to sweat while you heal!

  22. “The Lion King” is the best!!! :)

    I love yoga, especially up at college. It really helps me relax at the end of the day, helps calm my mind down, and helps me sleep at night. (Stress can really affect my sleep at night, waking me up in the middle of the night and refusing to let me rest.) I’m so glad you’re finding other ways you like to stay active. I know sacrificing something you love can be hard, but I know you can get through this. One day at a time. Your knee just needs the time to heal fully and properly. You’ll be running before you know it. :).

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