Even if you did everything you could to prevent a running injury, that ping in your knee or tweak in your foot may still happen. Running is hard because you don't see the results over night, it takes time, commitment and consistency so one of the things that running teaches you is patience.
But what happens when you put all that hard work into your training, with the goal race looming up in the distance, getting nearer and nearer but you end up having a setback through injury?
You probably don’t want to hear this but you have to be extra patient and being injured forces patience upon you. You have to create a plan B (or even plan Z) if you experience setbacks and that can be hard...especially if it seems that everyone else is doing so well. A week can seem like a lifetime...
If you have experienced a setback don't be too hard on yourself, the professional name for it is Runner's Withdrawal Syndrome and it is very real and can have a huge psychological effect on your state of mind. Fortunately running injuries are rarely permanent and runners come back stronger if they have a comeback plan, listen to advice and be patient.
Unfortunately, no one is injury-proof and if you are feeling a niggle before you panic and convince yourself that you are never going to run again, wait to see if the pain resolves itself within 24 to 36 hours. If it does, and you feel OK after your next run, that probably means you’re good to go.
However if you limp or notice a change in your running style, you need to stop and address the issue immediately. Not dealing with it can lead to long term damage that may mean you have to stop running permanently. WHAT? Sounds scary doesn’t it? And it is.
Feeling sore but still able to make it through a run without too much misery? Just back off your distance for a week or two and stick to easy runs. One strategy when you’re feeling pain is to practice a shorter stride, particularly for Achilles, knee and hip pangs. Working toward small, quicker steps takes pressure off your joints, reducing further injury risk. Icing after a workout is also helpful for acute injuries when inflammation is evident, like swelling, redness, tenderness or pain; use the cold compress for about 10 minutes at a time,
If you are in so much agony that you can’t leave the settee head to a sports therapist to get it checked out.
Here are my top tips for helping you have a comeback plan
Don't deny that you are injured, you have to deal with it and accept your injury, you may
also experience some anger and depression and refuse to stop running, however you will
reach a point where the pain forces you to stop. You will be able to return to your training
plan if you allow the healing process the time that it needs.
Stick to a routine, walk when you would have run, by sticking to your normal training routines you will still gain the psychological benefits of regular exercise.
Keep up running friendships and support others in races, supporting is a great way to experience the race without the stress and it is appreciated by runners so much.
Cross train so that you don't end up feeling lethargic, go swimming, do yoga or Pilates, strength training to build up muscle strength, go biking, it will really help fill the void.
Most importantly return to running with realistic expectations, start slowly and build gradually, set goals and don't do too much, too soon with too little recovery.
Is there such a thing as injury free running?
Running and how to stay injury free is one of the most pressing questions on every runner's mind and as you start to increase your distance and time on your feet here are a few of my golden rules for staying as injury free as possible.
Avoid the terrible too's, I say this time and time again, don't do too much, too soon, too quickly
Increase your weekly mileage by 10% only and listen to your body, this may even be too much after a few weeks so cut back if you are feeling tired. You need to rest, this is part of the process
Let your body be the boss, injuries don't tend to happen overnight, so if you have a niggle, have a couple of days off and rest. If a couple of days’ rest doesn't help, then seek advice from a sports specialist.
Get good shoes and if they don't feel right, take them back and keep exchanging them until they do!
Keep a diary of your runs, just make notes on the time of day, the weather, how you were feeling and the miles and pace. Try not to be too obsessive about it, just make a record of your runs. It's good to see your progress and you will be able to see patterns emerging, maybe stress at work, your diet, sleep patterns, these can all have an effect on how you feel when running.
Cross train, I know we are all really busy but a bit of cross training will really help your running, Pilates or Yoga, a Spin class or lifting weights will all help your overall fitness
Respect the miles.