Training for a marathon is no easy task (especially when it's your first one), but to make it even harder, I ended up stuck with a running injury. I was handed a pair of crutches, a cheap ankle brace, and instructions to stay off my right foot for a week from an on-campus health care professional—all of this happening five weeks before my marathon date.

As soon as the HCP came back into the room with a pair of crutches and began adjusting them to my height, I felt about as many mixed emotions as I did watching season 5 of Gossip Girl (seriously, what was that season even about?). I was shocked, appalled to the point of laughing, and above everything else, I was so confused. How did I let it get this bad?

water, coffee, beer, tea
Sydney Hockett

One of the things that lying in bed 95% of my day allowed me was plenty of time to think, and I thought a lot about how I let myself get to that point.

Up until the day I went to the doctor, I had been convincing myself that I was fine. I had decided to start a "running streak" almost three weeks earlier, logging at least one mile every day—which meant no rest days, no days for my legs to recover and for me to work on strengthening my other muscles.

But if other people could do it, I could too, right? WELL, apparently not. And if I did more research, I would've learned that I'm not the only one to end a streak they didn't want to end.

espresso, beer, wine, coffee
Ashleigh Monaco

I ignored the pain gradually growing day by day, telling myself it was only sore muscles, or pain caused by increasing my weekly mileage and my body just had to adjust. 

The only reason why I went to Iowa City's QuickCare Center in the first place was because my foot started to feel numb and tingly, and as I explained to my friend, pain is one thing, but numbness is another. Even so, I was denying that it would be anything other than an "overuse injury."

I couldn't believe I had let it get to the point of crutches and RICE for a week, but with time to think and reflect, I realized that my running injury, although poorly timed, was actually a good thing for me in the long run (no pun intended). 

It forced me to look at how I was treating my body and what my relationship with exercise and running was like: I love running and working out, but my exercise regimen had become forced, chaotic, and often painful. 

chocolate, coffee
Sarah Hale

I was always focused more on numbers than how I was feeling—can I lift heavier, run farther, wake up earlier? I should have been taking the pain in my leg seriously and paying attention to how fatigued my body was.

Trying to get from class to class on crutches was painful enough for me to realize that this isn't how I want to live the rest of my life. I don't want to continuously workout to the point of temporarily disabling myself, only to heal somewhat and jump right back into my hectic routine, injuring myself again.

Ashleigh Monaco

Some runners can keep running streaks for decades, but I know now that keeping a streak doesn't define my running ability or my strength. Even though I'm off crutches now, I'm still taking it easy. My weekly mileage is a lot lower and I'm taking walking breaks during runs, I'm incorporating rest days and days off running back into my routine and I'm paying attention to any pain, discomfort, and/or exhaustion.

I haven't worn my FitBit since getting crutches either, because I'm committed to focusing on healing rather than getting back to reaching a step or activity goal for the day. Especially because my marathon is coming up soon, I don't want to do anything that would ruin my chances of running (and walking some of) it.

Aly Sebold

Running this marathon is incredibly important to me, and if I want to someday run triathlons, the Boston Marathon and who knows what else, I have to take care of my body.

Workout addiction is real and dangerous. It may have taken a running injury to put my behavior into perspective, but all in all I'm grateful it happened and literally forcing me to stop and think about what I was doing to myself.