#308 Letting go of your Identity as an Injured Runner with Toni Kengor - DOC

#308 Letting go of your Identity as an Injured Runner with Toni Kengor

Today on the Doc On the Run Podcast we’re talking about letting go of your identity as an injured runner. 

We have a special guest on the show today. You’re probably already following her on social media @Toni.Hearts.Running. But you may know her as Toni Kengor, Running Coach and co-founder of Relentless Runners. In college Toni played soccer while she was getting her degree in Health and Physical Education. That’s when she really discovered and developed a love of running. Now, many years later she’s a massively successful runner and running coach. She’s also one of the most inspiring people you could ever following social media so if you’re not following her already, make sure you click on her social links which we have posted in the show notes of this episode at DocOnTherun.com under the podcast tab so you can start following her today. Toni, welcome to the show!

Before we get into some questions maybe you could just give us a little bit more detail about your running history and why you became so interested in running marathons.

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: Right now many runners listening to this have had to make a multifaceted series of transitions in their own lives. Many runners are having to work from home. Even while we’re trying to work at home, our kids are all doing remote learning because the schools are closed. Many runners have had marathons which have been canceled. Our training schedules are all up in the air and we feel lost and sometimes misdirected without those training schedules and structure in place.

I know you have dealt with all of these sort of transitions at one time or another in your own life. A few years ago you made the switch to working from home with your run coaching business. And obviously since you have been successfully coaching runners I know you have been helping runners deal with all of these transitions and struggles…right now. 

The truth is, the shifts that all of us are forced to experience right now as a consequence of the shutdown are somewhat analogous to the forced changes that happened when a runner becomes injured. Everything suddenly shifts and seems more difficult. But much of it mindset.

So before we start talking about how to deal with over training injuries maybe you could just tell us a little bit about how are you are helping your clients deal with the transitions around disrupted training schedules, canceled races and working from home. 

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: Let’s talk about running injuries. By far the most common condition affecting runners is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis actually accounts for 40% of all visits to podiatrists so it is extremely common. Some runners develop plantar fasciitis as a consequence of wearing the wrong running shoes, making mistakes in training, or even from some sort of mild trauma like stepping on one of their kids Legos.

On your website you mentioned that you had a “stupid reason” why you developed plantar fasciitis. I’m really interested to hear your story of how your plantar fasciitis started, and how you dealt with the plantar fasciitis while you were training.

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: Another common, but often times more concerning injury is an Achilles tendon issue.

What do you think really lead to your Achilles tendon injury and what sort of shifts did you have to make in your running to get it to heal?

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: Of all of your experiences with running injuries, what did you find to be the most troublesome or disruptive, and why? 

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: Let’s talk about injured runners and simple logistics. I think the biggest mistake runners get when they first developed a running injury is that they start ignoring the problem or thinking they can just run through it. Although I lecture at medical conferences several times a year teaching doctors there actually is away to help injured runners maintained their fitness and get back to running sooner, runners certainly have a tendency to just stick their heads in the sand and almost belligerently stick to their training schedules…even at the detriment of their goals. 

We always think it’s important to get advice on running injuries from someone like a doctor who is an expert on running injuries.

Many times runners think it’s important to get advice from a coach who has experience working with injured runners. 

But the truth is, although both of those two sources of help are important I think that it’s the actual human connection of speaking to someone that has actual experience with recovery from running injuries themselves who can be more helpful. It often helps for someone to be able to say “I know what it feels like because I was in that place where you are right now. I was able to work through it and I was able to overcome it.”

Given the fact that you’re a highly successful running coach and you had your own experiences with running injuries you are actually in a unique position to provide not only the expert advice related to running and training but also your personal experience of overcoming over-training injuries.and all of the emotion attached to an injured state.

When you are working with a runner who has been training for a marathon and they develop an over training injury, how do you get them to shift their focus away from their training schedule while helping them understand (and convincing them) they will be able to overcome the injury and get back on track with their goals?

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: Let’s talk a little bit about cyber bullying. Running specific forums can be extremely helpful resources for runners in training, and for runners to develop an over training injury. Unfortunately, there often trolls and mean-spirited individuals who seem to make a hobby of making fun of other people’s tough circumstances. In fact, even you have been antagonized because of running injuries in this way. Tell us about what it felt like to be injured, and then have someone poking fun at your injuries in front of others. How did you respond and deal with that? 

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: One of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show was so you could share your ideas on the importance of letting go of your identity as an injured runner. It’s interesting to me that so many runners understand how visualization of achieving the goal is absolutely critical to finishing a marathon within a specific goal time. Yet these exact same individuals will almost develop the exact opposite negative visualization and intention setting by identifying ourselves as injured runners who are unable to achieve goals. Tell us about your journey and process of letting go of your identity as a chronically injured runner.

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: Imagine you’re on a plane heading to Chicago, New York or Berlin to run a marathon. You strike up conversation with the woman sitting next to you on the plane. Turns out she’s on her way to run her first marathon. She’s only been running for year. You hit it off and have a great conversation throughout the flight and then just as the plane is landing, she asks you a question:

What is the one piece of advice you can give me about maximizing my recovery after workouts so I don’t developing overtraining injury? What would you tell her?

Toni Kengor: Check out the podcast audio to hear what she said!

Dr. Segler: All of you listening right now should go follow Toni on social media.  We’ll have all the links in the show notes episode under the podcast section at DocOnTheRun.com.

Toni, thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to share all of your experiences and insights with our listeners today. Where can our listeners find you, follow you and reach out to you for help?

Links mentioned in the Podcast Episode:














Got Pain?…….Track it!

Pain is the best tool to help an injured runner decide when run. You don’t have to figure out what to write down. We made a simple Pain Journal PDF for you.

To print out your copy of the pain journal, Download here:


Got a Question?

If you have a question that you would like answered as a future addition of the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me PodcastQuestion@docontherun.com. And then make sure you join me for the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast!