A question I am asked a lot as a running coach is What do I do when I am injured? Usually, runners are on two completely opposite sides of the spectrum: Run through the pain to stop all together. As someone with a minor injury at the moment, you’ll be happy to know that there is an in between!
I am at the very beginning of my half marathon training for Pittsburgh 2017. Recently, I started experiencing very bad pains in my shin along with random bruises. After about three days of rest without any improvement, I decied to get it checked out. For the second time now, I’ve caught a stress fracture before it came one. I have a bone bruise which means I have rubbed the periosteum off of my shin. The next stop, according to the doctor, would be a stress fracture. Glad I got that checked out!
Look, some pains are simply known as “soreness” and some are more serious. Below is how I handle some of those pains that end up being minor injuries.
1. When in doubt, rest and consider getting it checked out. As runners, we are wired to “push through the pain.” Sore legs are different than bones that are about to crack or muscles that are about to tear! After a tough workout or long run, it’s normal to experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). However, if you experience a pain that gets worse with every step or stride, it’s best to stop early and rest.
How long your rest depends on your body and what you’re experiencing. A good benchmark for me has always been 72 hours. If the pain isn’t gone, or singificantly better, in three days…I take the plunge and get it checked out. Doing so has saved stopped me on my tracks on the way to two stress fractures: one in my knee and one in my tibia.
The benefit of resting early and getting things checked out early is that you can usually get back out there sooner rather than later.
2. When you’re told to stay away from running, it’s still important to maintain your training schedule. The words no runner wants to hear: “You can’t run for a week” or however long it is. It’s very easy to get into a slump because we can’t do what we absolutely love (I’m there now!). However, to maintain a positive attitude and keep yourself in shape, you should consider sticking to your schedule and trying some new workouts. Still not convinced? Allow me to explain…
- A good sweat, regardless of how it happens, releases endorphins. It may not be your favorite way to workout, but you can still feel a little bit of the almighty runners’ high from working out.
- Trying new workouts is a great mental and physical refresher! I love using Fitness Blender on YouTube. They’re free, and there’s quite a variety.
- Alternative workouts strengthen muscles that might be weak. Ever notice that you can run miles and miles per week, but squats still make you sore? My point. Work on other muscle groups as you heal up.
- Keeping your schedule will help you get right back into the swing of running when it’s time to start back up again.
3) When it’s time to start running again, EASE back into it. Maintaining your physical health will help you get right back into running, but it’s important to remember that many injuries are the result, either directly or indirectly, of over training. You don’t want to end up right back where you started!
And, believe it or not, “easing in” doesn’t necessarily mean you gradually increase miles starting at 1. Depending on your history, injury, and skill level, easing in could be any of the following:
- A couple of days of walking followed by running
- Decreasing your mileage to what it was two weeks before your injury and starting over
- Utilizing Jeff Galloway’s run/walk/run intervals
- Running all of your miles at conversational pace (no speed training or hills or tempo runs) for 1-2 weeks
It all depends on you and what you are comfortable with. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor or health professional before getting into (or back into) any physical fitness routine, especially one that is high impact!
Having suffered two bone bruises, a torn hamstring, and ITBS in both legs more than once…I’ve learned a thing or two about self care during injuries. I hope these tips help you out! And while you’re resting, don’t forget to checkout all the deals and discounts on the new GOODIES page of my site! From gear to race registrations, I’ve got you covered #seecourtrun style.