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Coming Back From Injury

Posted May 08 2011 7:00am

Hi everybody! My name is Katy and I blog at The Singing Runner !

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I am so excited that Matt has allowed me to be a guest blogger today! I love Matt’s blog so when he sent out a request for guest bloggers, I of course offered to write something, since he so graciously wrote a post for me not too long ago!

When I asked what he wanted me to write about, he said “Something about YOU!” My first thought was “crap” followed by panic. I don’t like talking about myself (too much ;) ), so I had to come up with something interesting and informative, but that I could relate to.

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I am currently training for the Chicago Marathon, which will be my very first marathon! I’m excited, but I am taking the training process VERY slowly.

A few weeks after I ran my first half-marathon back in January, I started to develop pain in my left shin and tightness in my calf. The pain was not too bad at first, so I continued to run on it for close to three weeks. However, as I continued to run, the pain grew worse and the calf tightness was unbearable. After an awful two mile training run, I broke down and decided to go to the doctor to get it looked at. I feared the worse (a stress fracture) but after a series of X-Rays and tests, I was told that I had a severe shin splint and was referred to a physical therapist. I was also told that I would have to stop running immediately and stop any training I was doing (I was training for two more half-marathons in the spring).

This crushed me. All of the hard work I had put into running and training was going to be put to waste.

In the weeks that followed, I was in physical therapy twice a week for an hour each session and I cross-trained like a crazy person!

I also cried. I was angry and frustrated. And I said far too many profanities for my liking. But I got through those six weeks of essentially no running…and lo and behold… I actually learned something. I learned my mistakes and I learned how to prevent future injuries.

1) If it hurts. STOP!

It took me a long time to finally come to this realization. I’ve always been told, “no pain, no gain” or to “tough it out.” However, there is a difference between pushing yourself through a difficult part of a workout and pushing yourself through an injury. You will know the difference.

2) Build up mileage gradually.

I had always heard of the 10% rule, but I never followed it. I thought that since I was young, I could increase my mileage quicker than 10%. However, when I did, injuries started popping up left and right. Also, have a “fall back” week about every three weeks.

3) It is ok to take a little time off from running.

If you do have some sort of pain pop up, it is ok to take a little time off. You are not going to immediately lose your cardiovascular stamina in a week. Yes, the first run back may be a little rough, but you will be right back at it in no time. After not running for six weeks, I was afraid that I would not be able to make it through a mile without stopping. This was not the case- yes I was a little slower than my normal pace (and still am due to my current lack of speed work), but I was not ridiculously out of shape. Trust your body- it’s an amazing thing!

4) If you are coming back from an injury… be patient! Embrace other forms of exercise!

I know not running is difficult and frustrating, but take this time to find other forms of exercise. I started spinning and doing light weight work during my injury time and learned to love it. I have continued to spin on my cross-training days and I am getting ready to start weight work again!

When you start running again- take it easy! If you do too much too soon, your risk of re-injuring yourself is much greater!

5) Figure out WHY or HOW you got injured in the first place.

Did you injury yourself because you over-trained? Or was it because a muscle is weak? If you figure out why or how you got injured, you can take steps to prevent future injuries. Ease back on training a little or do exercises/ stretches to strength up.

Personally, my shin injury was from over-training. I was running five times a week with two days of cross training and no rest. For some people, this works but for me personally, it did not. I NEED a day of rest. So when I was putting together my training schedule for Chicago I went with a 4 days running (no more than 3 days consecutively), 2 days of cross training, and one day of rest. If I absolutely want to work out on that rest day, then I MUST take a rest day the following week- no exceptions.

I also ice after every workout and wear compression sleeves during runs and to bed (I have two different pairs). Some may think I am being a little too cautious, but I don’t want another injury to sideline me from my marathon goal!

If you have been injured, what did you learn from it?

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