By: Coach Delilah
So, you’re a runner now!! Hopefully you have come to this point healthy, without any major injuries. But for many runners, injuries are common, and often part of the game when trying to figure out what type of running regime works for you (i.e. how much, how intense, how often). I’ll share a personal story with you. I have had to change my training completely after being diagnosed a year ago with a bone disorder that leads me prone to fractures (I have had 18!). I was initially told that I could never run again, but after a year off, I have been able to gradually, at the advice of my doctor, include running into my routine again (yay!). BUT, I have had to completely change my approach to training - I can only run about one third of what I did before, and (much to the chagrin of ‘competitive’ Delilah), I am no longer allowed to go “all out” in training nor in races. But what I have learned this year, is that QUALITY of training over QUANTITY can lead to great results! For me, “quality” meant increasing cross-training with spin and barre classes, and focusing on form when I DO run. And low and behold, my running times are not that far off of when I was competing and going “all out”. Take home message - cross-training and focusing on quality can make you a better and more efficient runner in the end!
Here are some key points when talking about injuries and running:
- Getting injuries is easy!
It is so hard to run less when things are feeling good! The endorphin rush, the stress release, the goal setting and sense of accomplishment...but the problem is that with most injuries, you feel good until....poof, you don’t. And you’re injured. Furthermore, if you are someone who is already cardiovascularly fit, starting a running regime can seem ‘easy’ at first, so the inclination is to run more, or harder. But it is important to remember, that even if you are cardiovascularly very fit, your BODY is not used to the POUNDING of running, and it needs time to develop the musculature and strength to withstand that pounding. And that can take some time. In short, a lot of preventative action is needed so that you can continue running healthy for years to come.
2. Preventing injuries can also be easy!
I always tell this to my athletes - taking 2-3 days off for a niggle will yes, be hard, BUT it may prevent you from having to take 2-3 months off if you try to push through something and make it worse, turning it into a serious problem. Make the hard decision to take a few days off upfront, so that you don’t have to be out of commission for weeks later. Also, EASY days are just as (even more?) important than the harder days. Your body needs the easy running days to recover, reap the rewards of the fitness gained on the harder days, and to put less stress on the body. The biggest mistake I see is athletes pushing their easy days. For some, this may mean running your easy days alone, so that you aren’t caught up in someone else’s pace. Or, for some, that may mean running with a much slower friend, so that you can be sure to run at a pace that is “recovery pace” for you. Whatever you need to do to ensure that you stick to your recovery days, do it. It’s important.
3. Get a coach!
Having a plan that you have to stick to, and having someone hold you accountable for your running is the best way to prevent injury. Left to our own devices, we tend to always push ourselves a bit too much. An objective guide to our training makes it so much easier to train safely, and remain healthy.
4. If you are injured...
Remember that all injuries eventually come to an end. But that end will come nearer if you let it heal properly. This may mean full rest from exercise, this may mean modified exercise (i.e. pool running, biking, strength work). Get to know your local physiotherapist well, as they can be an intangible tool to help prevent further injuries by identifying the initial problem that caused the injury.
Hope that helps you towards a lifetime of happy, and healthy running!!