Sorry for the delay, school and cross country has kept me busy this past week. I will have some new shoe reviews up soon, as well as some new content that I think you will find interesting.
My first real running injury happened when I was in my sophomore year of high school. I made a unnecessary jump in mileage, from 40 to 60 I think (in one week), and my shins began to hurt. It slowly but surely got worse. Weeks went by, I did everything I could to help the pain, but it continued to intensify through my cross country meets. Doctors told me it was shin splints, to continue running, and although the deep tissue massages had me writhing on the table in agony, I still kept pushing it. Funny thing it is, the mind of a runner. Little did I know, I had a stress fracture in my shin. Actually two to be precise, one in each leg. Turns out I had run through one in my left leg, and the one in my right just became to much to bear. Finally, after an X-ray I was stuck in a boot for more than 6 weeks. I missed races, I missed training, and I became a depressive mess. Later, after recovering, the following track season left me with a hip injury, and I before I knew it, I was out for almost 6 months total that year. The list of other ailments goes on and on, until I got to my first two years of college, where I only did running for the mileage. No workouts, no special lifting, just some core strengthening and flexibility when I felt like I needed it. Thus followed my longest streak of injury free running. I was running hard and at some high mileages, sometimes even 70+ miles, and I was feeling better than I ever have. Then training for the 2012 Boston marathon, I garnered a stress fracture in my femur. Bam, out again. To date, it would have been the biggest race of my life, and my training was going great. I was on track to break 2:30 for the marathon. There I was again, depressed, beaten down, and left wondering if I really wanted to keep running like I had been.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I feel like the my experiences with the stress of debilitating injuries could help you out.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Your injury isn’t the end of the world.
I am never as depressed as when I am unable to run. It’s like a crippling inescapable pain that leaves you drained and defeated. If you love the sport, and you have been injured, chances are you have a similar feeling. Unless you have had some incapacitating injury, you will recover. It’s a tough pill to swallow, sitting there not being able to run, just watching as your teammates, and friends are out training. Remember that time you wished you didn’t have to run that hill, or complete that interval workout? Well now that you can’t even run a step, you crave those hills, your lungs starve for that burn of oxygen deprivation as you try and hit even splits on a workout. But alas! It’s a few week later, you’re still alive, although bored, and you’re slowly getting better! You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you quickly learn how much running really means to you. Don’t worry; you will be out there soon.
Now the much-preferred method of injury recovery is none at all, but sometimes we just cant prepare enough for bad things to happen. So how can an injury be a good thing (relatively)? Well take a look at that running log. Did you do something drastically different from the previous weeks? Did you jump your miles, try a workout you weren’t ready for, eat poorly for a few weeks, or didn’t do your stretching? All factors of common running injuries, now you know where you went wrong! Still can’t figure it out? Look harder. In my experience, I have always been able to look back and find something that I was doing that could have lead to an injury, and the next go round I work to fix it.
3. What do I do for recovery? I don’t want to get out of shape!
Well, depending on the injury you just might not be able to do much. But in most cases, there are many other alternatives to running. Elliptical machines for no impact, underwater treadmills (if you’re lucky), Alter-G running, which is probably the most interesting, biking, or just swimming are usually viable options. Remember though! You are recovering! Don’t go out there and make things worse by swimming, biking, or cross training so much that your body cant handle the load. Eat less, your appetite will probably decrease since you aren’t burning calories like a wildfire anymore. And get that sleep! So many times people think that because you aren’t running due to an injury that sleep isn’t as important. Of course it is. Your body recovers the most when you sleep, especially when you have a consistent sleep schedule every night.
After being a vegetable (in a runners mind) for a few weeks, or months depending on the injury, you will want to get out there and hit the roads again. DONT. take it easy partner, although your injury may be healed, training hard right away will just leave you worse off. Start slowly, and gradually increase your intensity/mileage. Does it hurt? QUIT RUNNING. Little sore after a few days back? Think about a day off, ice what hurts, stretch, and reevaluate your increase in training. Remember, you will be apprehensive when you take those first few steps, but when you realize that you are running pain free, you will want to try and run like you did pre-injury. This is a terrible idea. Take it slow, be smart, and before you know it, you will be back at it twice as strong.