Mike Dubz enjoys care package goodies from Brainsport and Hoka following an injury.

One runner’s advice for coping with injury

The last time Mike (Dubz) Welygan spoke with the Brainsport Times he had just finished the 125-kilometre Canadian Death Race and was excited to toe the line at two more ultra marathons before the year’s end.

Welygan has been injured before because of overtraining and was careful to do everything right this time. His build to the Beaver Flat 50 kilometre and Iron Horse Ultra 100 kilometre races balanced mileage with elevation and speed workouts. But, on the evening of Sept. 10, Welygan felt a pain in his abdomen and ended up at Royal University Hospital for emergency appendix surgery. Even though he had been training smart, his dreams of running fall ultras fell away and Welygan was told to do something he’s not very good at — take it easy.

“My entire life I have never been one to sit still. Every available minute I have, I fill it with anything,” he said.

Welygan took four weeks off running to recover from surgery and foot pain that developed after several days of bed rest. This week, he spoke with the Brainsport Times to share advice for injured athletes.

Complaining doesn’t help — so choose to be happy instead

There’s no two ways about it: “injuries suck,” Welygan says. “No one ever wants it to happen, but they happen … Complaining will not speed up the process, nor fix it, so you have to enjoy your time.”

He challenges himself to find the silver lining of every injury. That might be as simple as finally finding time to binge watch shows on Netflix. During this most recent injury, not running the Iron Horse Ultra meant Welygan was able to crew several running friends in the race.

“It was super fun to see it from that side of the world,” Welygan said. “That was a huge event in my recovery.”

Find stillness

Recovering from surgery forced Welygan to take some down time — and allowed him to find stillness.

“(I got) to find the time to enjoy everything around me that I might have noticed, but blasted by so quickly I never got a chance to just take it all in,” he said.

While recovering, he spent a weekend at the lake with his family and got to sit in peace and quiet while they got to work winterizing the cabin.

“I took all that time I previously spent training each week to just enjoy time with my wife and French bulldog. It was nice to just relax and make them a priority again,” he says.

Time spent sitting outside, taking in fresh air and admiring the beauty around him finally gave Welygan a chance to de-stress he says.

Listen to experts

Welygan turned to his physiotherapist and athletic therapist for advice when he was waylaid.

“They have been doing whatever it takes to keep my body functional,” he said.

“With their help and focusing on lots of those cross training exercises that most of us neglect, I feel like after four weeks of no running, my legs maintained their strength.”

He now has hopes of going into the winter season stronger than ever.

Be patient

Welygan says he has learned from experience the importance of “extreme discipline” in coming back from an injury. Even though he may feel fit, his soft tissues need to be gradually conditioned to regain the resiliency they had before he took four weeks off.

“It has taken a lot for me to not just lace up the shoes and fire out the door like I used to,” Welygan said and credits some of his success in this to Brad Spokes of ZONE Sports Physiotherapy for checking in with him regularly to make sure he’s not pushing too hard too soon

Easing into things certainly wasn’t made any easier when Brainsport and Hoka sent him a get-well package that included new shoes and running gear — but the gesture meant a great deal.

“With this, I realized the support I had from my teams, friends and community. It also made me want to get back to the sport that I love, healthy and stronger,” Welygan said. “The goal is to continue to change lives through running or personal challenges and encourage/ support all those around me!”