Technically, I'm not injured. Technically, I'm dealing with a chronic illness. Technically, it's the same page from a different book. You get me, right?
I've been injured many times throughout my many years of running. But oh my word--the things well-meaning people say to us runners when we are hurt. It usually has something to do with knees, doesn't it? The funny thing is, now that I have RA, I'm getting that same advice! Along with all kinds of assorted well-meaning voodoo I need to try.
I've gotten to the point where I have to bite my tongue, count to 10 and then respond. My increasing crankiness reminds me of that expression: Don't poke the bear.
I think we all know that wouldn't end well.
So, as a public service to your family and friends, I wanted to offer a few suggestions of do's and dont's when approaching or speaking with an injured runner. If you're the one who is injured, you may want to hand them a copy of this blog post. You can thank me later. Your loved ones might want to thank me as well.
DO ask how the injured runner is feeling. Allow them time to talk. Try not to glaze over as the runner repeatedly agonizes over not being able to run. Nod and smile from time to time. Just listen.
DON'T speculate on what the injury might be, even if you are a medical provider. The injured runner has already extensively Googled their symptoms and has probably formulated a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
DON'T say anything that starts with "at least" or "it could be worse". As in: "at least you don't have cancer" or "it could be worse, you could have cancer." It could always be worse. That doesn't make it better.
DON'T give advice about treatments. Statements that start with "have you tried..." are not helpful to someone who is considering everything possible. As in: "have you tried changing your diet?" or "have you considered medical marijuana?"
DO offer to meet for coffee, wine, or margaritas. What is it about breaking bread or clinking glasses that makes life feel so much better?
DON'T compare the injured runner's injuries to something you've or someone you know has experienced. As in: "oh, my aunt died from Humira" or "when I had PF, I tried rolling on a golf ball, frozen water bottle, night splint, shockwave treatments, orthotics, massage, Graston, cutting off my foot..."
DO provide positive feedback about what the runner is doing to recover from their injuries. I get so much strength from my friends and readers who tell me how much they admire my determination to keep moving, to keep up with my workouts.
DON'T make suggestions about alternative activities. As in: "you should try swimming." No. I'm not a swimmer. I am a runner.