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Setting new personal challenges during injury time

In taking time off to heal, Tara is discovering how to set new personal challenges that will aid her running when she's back to training.

Relax, refresh and recharge in office

One of the many things I’ve learned about myself over the course of my still-young journey back into competitive sport, it is that I thrive when presented with a challenge. This seems to be common trait among competitive runners. The reason I’m pointing it out though is because over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve been bound into a boot with no running, biking, or walking allowed, I’ve discovered how this need to be challenged can be used in purposeful ways.

Typically, when training I’m challenged daily by activities that have tangible outcomes. The most evident of these challenges each day is to run x many miles and keep x pace. However, through this down-time with injury, it has become apparent that there are many other ways I challenge myself as a runner. The strength work, stretching, nutrition, sleep and self-educating that I do on a regular basis are also challenges when striving to be purposeful every day.

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So, how does this apply during recovery time? Well, I’m harnessing my love of challenge to help to keep my mind sharp and my discipline in tact, so that when I’m able to train again, I’ll be ready to go. Right now, I’m challenging myself through strength training (a limited amount), stretching, nutrition and sleep. In fact, all of these parts of training are proving to be just as important during this healing time as they are during a full-blown training block. Nutrition and sleep, in particular are of utmost importance for healing.


As most runners will understand, not being able to run can be a real downer. So, I’m working towards staying mentally strong. As I wrote last week, I’m focusing on what I can do, rather than what I can’t do at this time. And this past weekend, I had the opportunity to test myself when my two sisters-in-law, Carisa and Tina, and Aunt Susie, came over for their first training run together in preparation for the Lincoln Marathon. They’re all doing the half marathon on May 7. That’s the race where I had planned to be running my first full marathon. I was looking forward to doing some runs with them during my build, but of course that’s no longer an option. So, instead on Saturday, my partner, Candace, and I had them over to our place, where we watched the kids while they went for their run.

As they took off toward the nearby Big Papio Trail, which had been home to so many of my miles since arriving here in Omaha, I felt sad not to be joining them. To add insult to injury, it was a beautiful summer-like day here, with recording-setting high temperatures. Needless to say, I wanted to be in my shorts and t-shirt heading down the road towards that trail. But in that moment of feeling sad, I reminded myself that this is part of the challenge: to stay positive and not let those things I can’t do overwhelm me. Within moments the sadness passed. Then, I looked over to our sidesteps and saw our nephews planting seeds with Candace and I was further reminded of all there was to celebrate on that gorgeous, warm day.