I’ve been out of the running game for 7 weeks to the day now. And I admit, I’ve been panicking a bit (I know, you’ve hardly been able to tell.) It feels like every hour I paint a scarier scenario than the one before. I’m plagued with questions and uncertainties that keep me up at night. Like, how long will it take me to get back into shape? Will I be as slow as I was when I first started running? Will my stride be completely different? Will I ever be able to run a marathon again? How will this injury affect me in the long-term?
And really, the worst part is that only time will tell. But until that day when I can finally run again and figure these things out, I’ll be reading this article from Runner’s World on an hourly basis to console and reassure me.
Some important takeaways from it:
There is such a thing as muscle memory, and here’s what someone way smarter than me has to say about it: “The more times you go over the memory now, the longer it will last,” says Amadeus Mason, M.D., of USA Track & Field’s sports-medicine and science committee and an assistant professor of orthopedics and family medicine at Emory University. Which basically means: the more you run before you get injured (or take a break from running), the longer your muscle memory will hold up. Since I’ve been running consistently for several years, I’m really banking on that memory lasting for quite some time.
Then there’s also this: “You don’t just remember how to run-but how to run well. ‘Even after a long break, you’re going to be running more efficiently and wasting less energy than someone who is new to the sport,’ says Adam Knight, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomechanics at Mississippi State University.”
Lastly, this awesome snippet about coming back to running after time off from professional runner, Lauren Fleshman. “Even if you did nothing for months, you can return to peak fitness eventually. It might take longer, but that’s okay.” (This isn’t in the Runner’s World article, but it can be found in Fleshman’s training journal.)
So never fear, fellow cripples. We’ll get back to running eventually. And when we do, it’ll be just like riding a bike.