Things are going great. You feel on top of the world. You’re hitting some hard sessions, times are improving, what could possibly go wrong…go wrong….go wro….
Famous last words. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re having to deal with an injury.
There’s always a pattern in the way we deal with injuries, at least there is for me. First comes the denial stage. “This is just a niggle, I’m sure if I run through it it’ll go.” Then comes the admittance stage, “damit! I’m injured.” Next is the fall apart stage, “there goes my race” or “there goes running career, wow is me!” Eventually, hopefully, we move onto the “where to from here?” stage and this is a very important stage.
I maintain that injuries are not part of, or at least don’t have to be part of running. In other words there are very few instances where we get injured because of running. 99% of the time we get injured because of things making up the other 23 hours of our day and the 1 hour spent running just has an incredible knack of exploiting those imbalances, weaknesses or tightness’s we’ve picked up.
There is one exception to what I’ve just said, as we get closer and closer to our genetic potential we get less bang for our buck. In other words, we get less return on the hours and effort we pour into our training. When we reach this point, sadly most runners never will, we start to push our boundaries and as a result we start to train on the edge of the cliff where the risk of injury is very high.
Either way, when we end up injured we almost always feel like our worlds are crashing in around us. But, getting injured can have a positive impact on our running.
When we do end up injured, the first and most important question to ask is always, “why did I get injured?” If you cannot answer this question then there is every likelihood that it will reoccur down the line. The answer to this question is not always obvious and requires significant thought and tracing through logbook entries to try and find a clue as to what got it started in the first place.
If we are unable to find the cause then we’re only ever treating the symptoms and that means we’re never really addressing the problem. Once we know the cause we can follow the correct treatment plan and prevent the injury from side-lining us again in the future.
In most cases we end up injured due to a biomechanical or muscular imbalance. Let’s face it, sitting behind a desk for 8 or 9 hours a day is hardly what the human body was designed for. Not only that but we get into motor vehicles and drive wherever we go. All this “inactivity” has major consequences when it comes to hitting the road for an hour or so each day. Running is particularly good at exploiting any imbalances that we may be carrying around.
Prevention is always better than cure so here are a few habits to make part of your training routine:
- Always keep a training diary and note as much detail as possible for each session
- Flag any and every niggle you may feel during a run. This may simply be a niggle or a “growing pain”, but flag it anyway. If it’s an injury beginning to rear its ugly head than you’ll start to see a pattern and can take steps to nip it in the bud before it becomes a major issue
- Never push through a training session when the body is shouting “REST!!!!”
- Keep strength work as part of your training week. Focus on the major areas: core, glutes, calfs, hamstrings and quads
- If a niggle does turn to an injury get it treated immediately. Don’t waste time trying to wait it out, get it looked at and treated ASAP
I hope some of this helps you firstly prevent injury and secondly keep you sane during injury. Remember, regardless of how you feel, injury is not an act of God. God is not trying to punish you. There is however a very good reason for it, take the time to think back and identify the problem and then get your mind set on recovery.