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BQs to Bottoming Out: What I’ve Learned From Injury and Triumph


This weekend is kind of a weird one for me: this weekend marks 4 months since I last ran (full-weight) and 1 year since my first BQ at the Phoenix Marathon. This weekend I am also traveling to New Orleans to spectate the Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon, which I was supposed to be running, and to cheer on members of Team Challenge, which I am supposed to start coaching in a few weeks. Let’s just say it: It is an auspicious weekend, and thus has me reflecting on the past year and all that has transpired. 

Joining up with Amanda to share my thoughts and and Jill for Fitness, Health, and Happiness.! Don’t forget to check out my Running Coaches’ link up today as well to win a Moto 360 Sport Watch!!

Last year, I ran 2 Boston Qualifying marathons (first at Phoenix and then at the Chicago Marathon). I also suffered 2 overuse injuries: one in my lower tibia, likely from a speedwork run in shoes that my feet and ankles were very unused to, and a sacral stress fracture, likely occurring while I ran the Chicago Marathon, a race that I was intending to run and not race.

Two huge highs, two low lows. What have I learned about myself and my body as a result of these past 12 months, and how can those reflections teach me as I move forward?

10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Being Injured and My BQs

A look at the lessons that I've learned in 12 months of injury and incredible running. From Boston Qualifying marathons to bottoming out with stress fractures |

I am Capable and I am Stronger than I Know

Let’s face it, when you set out to accomplish something, generally you try to set goals that you know, or at least have the inkling, that you can achieve. I knew that I had the speed and endurance to run a Boston Qualifying marathon during my first marathon training, but I screwed the pooch with my lack of knowledge and experience. I cut serious time off of my first time with my second marathon, and I decided to go for it for my third. I trained smart, I was consistent, and I freaking did it. Me. Little Suz. 

And then I did it again.

I am Capable of blowing my own mind, living beyond expectations.

But I am Also Still Fragile

A month after my first BQ, I did a really hard speed training workout in shoes with no support. And a week or so later, I started to feel something not 100% in my ankle. Two weeks later, I could barely walk. After my second BQ, I felt a little tension on my left side, but it felt like soft tissue (as I’ve now learned many Sacral fractures do). Three weeks after my race, I was lying on the floor in tears. 

There are so many posts out there talking about what NOT to say to an injured athlete... so what CAN you say to someone dealing with injury? Find out at

Ask my husband, ask my Physical Therapist, ask any coach or personal trainer or doctor that has ever worked with me: I am an AMAZING patient. Not to brag, lol. I do what I am told (by and large), I admit when I mess up, and, above all, I am incredibly self aware, both physically and mentally. I know the difference between pain and discomfort. So why do I keep getting these catastrophic injuries? Because I forget that I am not invincible. 

I need to always practice constant vigilance.

Running is a Great Passion of Mine

Suz and Erin Nike Run Club #RunwithHart Chicago

I love running. I love this sport. I love being a running coach and mentoring others to learn how capable they are, how strong they are, just as I have learned myself. I love the feeling of fighting through a mentally (or physically) tough run and coming out on the other side. I love the sunrise over the lake and seeing friends on the path. I love the sweat, the gear, the shoes, the clothes, the ability to believe in something greater for yourself and the world.

Running is a fuel for my life. 

Yes, you CAN live without running. Says the running coach #runchat #running Click To Tweet

I Can Live Without Running

One of the toughest, but perhaps the most valuable, lessons that I have learned in the past year is that I can live without running. By that, I mean that I can live without going for a run myself. I was honestly scared by having activity taken away from me. Furthermore, never in a million years did I think I wouldn’t be running for as long as I have. But I have survived.

The new Soulcycle x Target collection is amazing!

You can find happiness even when not in the presence of something that you love.

I Cannot, However, Live (Happily) Without Activity

That said, I cannot live happily without physical activity. I have been unable to run, but had absolutely all activity been taken away from me, I don’t know what I would have done. 

I'm not a gym rat, I'm a gym unicorn! How amazing is this shirt! @suzlyfe

Being Capable Makes me Happy

Pain Changes You, Regardless Of How Well You Cope

Hand in hand with the previous point, I spent a great deal of the fall in serious pain. With my history of dealing with pain due to my chronic illness as well as a family littered with sufferers of various mechanical and pathological pain, I have always been very aware of the real effect of pain on the psyche. I did a relatively good job of coping with my injury–I was able to lean on my coaching business, on Alex, and on the hope that we would figure out what was going on. 

But pain still could flatten me, no matter how mentally strong I was.

But It Does Bring Your World Back Into Color as It Leaves

I will never forget that first walk to lunch when we came back from Mexico–it was my first relatively painfree walk since the injury, and the first time out in Chicago without crutches in 6 weeks. I will never forget what it felt like to run on the Alter-G for the first time. I will never take for granted the ability to bend over and tie my shoes or to turn over in bed. To open heavy doors. 

Using my MotoSport365 to log the greatest number of steps since my injury! |

Living without pain is like Dorothy discovering Oz.

There Is No Substitute for Freedom

If I could sum up the feeling of being in pain, of not being able to do what I loved, of not feeling like me, it would be trapped. I felt trapped in my body, trapped on the couch, trapped in our apartment (and you know how much I am ready to get out of that place!). Runners, marathoners, and people who push their bodies to an extreme–we know what it is like to feel discomfort (post long run or leg day) and to alter our schedules accordingly. But that is just the thing: we still are able to go about our schedules, our lives. I felt, in so many ways, scared to move. The release from that restriction truly is liberating. 

Movement is a gift. Be thankful for every shift: of heart, mind, or body.

Movement is a gift and a privilege.

But Inertia is a Very Real Thing

So you would think that I would up and humming, right? Not so much. On the one hand, we don’t want to over stress this newly reformed bone, but on the other hand, I have now been sitting 75% of the day for the past 4 months. I have spend 90% of my time indoors. 80% of my time alone. And now, I have the opportunity to get out there, to get involved with life…. and I don’t always know how, or I choose to sit inside and watch Netflix. What am I scared of? It can’t just be reinjury. It can’t just be the cold. 

Zoe and I having very deep conversations about deep things.

The first mile is often the hardest.

You have an 100% Success Rate of Surviving Your Worst Days

The best motivation quote for bad days: You have a 100% success rate at surviving your worst days. The Odds are in Your Favor, don't Ruin them Now! Get more inspiration at

Rarely can you claim perfection in life. Don’t squander your perfect record. (Get more motivational quotes here)

Lesson in life after a year of injuries and triumphs #runchat #fitfluential #yougotthis #sweatpink Click To Tweet

You will make it through. It may not be easy, enjoyable, or short. But you can find happiness in the discomfort, and you can make it through to the other side.

What is a lesson that you have learned from a particularly tough time in your life?

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