The Stages of Injury Grief

Running is my best friend.

Running is who I am… it is a part of me.

I rely on it to calm me after a stressful day at work,
to aid in my weight loss,
and to feel better about myself.

Running is and always will be- the thing I run to (pun intended) when I need a break from life.

So what happened when this injury forced me to abandon my best friend?

I got super pissed, I cried (many times), and felt sorry for myself.


 And if I was honest with myself and you,
I would admit that I feel like I have lost a part of myself
and I am really mad that my running goals for the next few months
have been flushed down the toilet.

As I mentioned previously, I have been doing lots and lots of research about running since I have been injured.

And I have discovered that these emotions are normal and are a healthy way of processing grief.

 Because that’s what this feels like… losing a friend

I also learned, that as with death, there are 5 stages of injury grief.

The Stage: Denial

Ignorance Is Bliss: For my specific injury, I was completely blind-sided. One day everything was fine and the next, I was injured. Although I have struggled with shin splints, I never thought it would turn into a Stress Reaction. But in the past, I definitely ran through the pain. Runners often play this game of Russian roulette—limping through workouts, and disregarding red flags.

Get Over It: Getting stuck here is dangerous. Runners need to learn how to discern between the normal aches and pains of running and a more serious pain that can lead to a running injury. The most important thing that I have learned from this is: listen to your body. At the first sign of a potential injury, be smart and back off . A few days on the couch is better than months of physical therapy. TRUST ME…

The Stage: Anger

It’s Totally Not Fair: Potentially not not being able to run in some of the races that I have registered for have been devastating. I feel extremely betrayed by my body and find myself wallowing in these thoughts throughout my day. It takes every part of me to rip myself out of this hole and move on.

Get Over It: Focusing on my goals for the remainder of the year and adding strength training and yoga to my future workout regimen, has allowed me to concentrate on the future, instead of stewing in the past or the present. It is okay to be be angry for a few days (or weeks… like me), but you have to eventually set the anger aside and  look forward.

The Stage: Bargaining

Just Let Me Exercise: I hit this stage last Saturday (remember when I ran?), and am ultimately paying for it now… a week later. I was juuuuuuuust starting to feel better and immediately took that as a sign that I could run. Stupid move.

Get Over It:  Be patient and listen to your body, dude. My new model is: give it a few more days. Even though I am feeling better, I know I need to keep resting and not jump in before my leg is ready.

The Stage: Depression

What’s The Point: When I was told to take a month off after my groin injury, I lost all sight of my goals and stopped running completely for a long period of time.

Get Over It: Fill the downtime with other activities that help fill the void of running: clean your house, strength train… or go for a walk! Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your goals If your injury takes longer to heal.


It’s Working: Coming to this mindset is critical. Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between stress and injury. Anxiety can cause muscle tension and suppress immune function, which can delay how quickly you get better. In this stage, you must have a peaceful mindset that encourages healing.



4 thoughts on “The Stages of Injury Grief

  1. Shiboriii says:

    Ohhh this is just what I needed ! I injured myself as I was starting a big challenge and it sucked so much I hated myself for a few days. Thanks for sharing this, it was funny and it made me feel better about myself. Thanks ! Reblogging, cause this is too good not to ! 🙂


  2. veggiefueledrunner says:

    I was injured about a 6 weeks ago and had to cut back on running and go to physical therapy twice a week. I made it through without stopping my streak but I was really worried. Great advice though, you gotta rest and let the body heal!


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