They say that running has a 100% injury rate. If you haven’t been injured yet, then consider yourself lucky. If you have been sidelined with a running injury, then you know it takes a different kind of toughness to get through it.
Read on to hear Shannon’s story of how she’s working to return to running after a knee injury. Shannon shares lessons on resilience, hope, and the surprising joy of only eating one lunch.
How did you get injured?
I fell during a trail race in April. My leg slipped out from underneath me on a downhill, resulting in a dramatic faceplant, a dislocated kneecap, torn cartilage, and ultimately knee surgery.
But don’t let this story scare anyone from trail running! I’ve had prior issues with this knee that make it more prone to injury. And who knows, I may also be a bit clumsier than the average human.
How did you feel when you realized you couldn’t run for a while?
Oh, that was a low point, a mix of fear and sadness. As I know others in our club can attest, when running occupies so much of your calendar and social life, not being able to run is completely disorienting. And it’s scary not knowing if or when you’ll return to the same level.
What’s been the biggest challenge about being injured?
Coping with uncertainty has been the biggest challenge. Like most injuries, cartilage damage is complicated and the recovery timeline is not necessarily clear or linear. You have to take it one day at a time. As someone who likes to plan out races and training plans several months in advance, embracing so much ambiguity has been challenging, but made easier with guidance and support from a fantastic physical therapist.
What’s one good thing about being injured that you didn’t expect?
I don’t have to go grocery shopping as often. Seriously, it’s amazing how much time and money can be saved when you don’t need to eat two lunches every day.
Could I add a second thing? Having this time to focus on rebuilding strength and preventing future injury has been incredibly valuable in a way I didn’t expect. I remember right after I hurt my knee, Coach Will told me that people come back after injury as stronger and better runners. Honestly, I didn’t quite buy it at the time, but now I can see it and truly believe it.
What are your tips for someone who is dealing with an injury?
First of all, know that it is okay to be upset and let yourself have all the feels. Then start to set goals that you can genuinely get excited about, sports-related or not. For me, this included swimming a 5K and getting back into open-water swimming, which was something I always found rather terrifying. The sense of challenge and accomplishment in reaching toward those goals made it a little easier for me to let go of my half marathon PR goal this year.
Also, reach out to others in GGRC and stay involved! So many of you shared your own recovery stories with me, commiserated, traded advice, and offered book recommendations. All of this has made the recovery time less scary and far more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.
Lastly, I would just encourage everyone – whether you’re injured or not – to celebrate every little gain and to be kind to yourself when you take a step backwards or hit a plateau in your training.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
I can’t wait to run with everyone again! Even if only for the warmup mile at Kezar. Fingers crossed that I can start easy jogging in a couple weeks.