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Dealing with Injury: When A Running Coach Can’t Run


Last days to enter to win the Mega Skoop Giveaway!

Saturday returned me to a place and people that have truly become a home and family for me: Fleet Feet and Chicago Endurance Sports. As you all well know, a huge part of the reason that my condition and the lack of progress on the healing front weighs so heavily on my mind is that this injury could prevent me from coaching for Winter Warriors. But what is a running coach who can’t run?

I’ve discussed ad nauseum how much coaching with CES transformed my life this summer; I could not have been more excited to continue my work with the group, my new and returning trainees, and my co-coaches. When I got hurt nearly 4 weeks ago, at first it was, “oh, maybe I’ll miss the first week.” Unfortunately, as the weeks have gone on, it has become more and more apparent that my ability to coach was tenuous at best. 

Susie's 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Finisher's Medal with its engraving. What an experience! Read about it at

Showing up on Saturday, I just wanted to see my friends, my trainees, and be surrounded by the CES magic. Perks of my appearance also being a ridiculous amount of chips, salsa, and guacamole, and who doesn’t love a margarita at 9:30 in the morning?! Um, that would be runners, lol. 

Open House for Chicago Endurance Sports Winter Warriors season included margaritas, chips and salsa!

There is a reason that I love being a part of the Chicago Endurance Sports family: not only did everyone, upon hearing what I was dealing with, (gingerly) give me a hug, each person tried immediately to help come up with a solution for how I could still be involved. One of my trainees suggest that I be a mentor, literally making me melt by telling me that “There is no one that would be better for it than you!” I had shown up to the Open House assuming that I would have to tell them that there was just no way that I could coach. By the end of my 3 hours there surrounded by runners, margs, running gear, and people who wanted me there, I knew that I needed to find a way. 

Chicago Endurance Sports Marathon Training coachees and coach Suz at various events during Chicago Marathon weekend! More at

When I pulled Coach Lori (the head coach of all the locations) to the side to talk with her at the end, I was determined to get her to see that THEY NEEDED ME. 

Coach Lori beat me to it and, without me having to fight for a second, told me that they would find a way for me to be involved. That I could help at the front and back end of the runs–with the 10k program in addition to the half marathon program, they need coaches back at the store more quickly. That I could lead stretching and such and, when I am ready, I can join the others again. Whenever that might be.

Being surrounded by my “people” revived me, but finding out that there are still ways for me to be involved during the season even if I can’t run set me free, as corny as it sounds. Every step might feel like someone is playing a very mean game of grab-ass with me or has punched me, but I still get to be a coach, I still get to be Coach Susie. 

I’m literally tearing up as I write this. 

Saturday reminded me that even though I may not feel like me, I am still me. I am not lost, I can still be connected to what I love, I can still share that love, and I can make a real difference in other people’s lives. I can let them experience that love for me. So that is what I am determined to do.

What do You Call a Running Coach Who Cannot Run? A Coach. I may not be able to run, but I am still Coach Suz. Discussing on @suzlyfe

What do you call a running coach who can’t run? A coach. I am still Coach Susie. I am Coach Suz to my other clients.

We have all dealt with injury before–be it physical, mental, or emotional. We have all had to be separated from the pieces of ourselves that make us whole. Divorced parents, injured runners, former riders… we don’t cease to be who we are just because we can’t be in the same room with our kids or physically getting on a horse every day. I will always cherish the quiet of the morning not because it is the time that I spend running but because that was the time that I spent getting the horses ready for show days. I will always look at buildings through the lens of an architectural historian. 

john bingham I am a Runner Quote

I am still a runner, even if I don’t run. It is a part of who I am, and it will be long after I stop running.

Life goes on, it is true, but we get to decide what we take with us.

What do you call a Running Coach who can't run? #runchat #fitfam @runhaven Click To Tweet

Right now, I “just run” by helping others do so.

How do you deal with forced separation?

What are you formerly that you will always carry with you?

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