Get ready dear readers, for a truly scary story....
It was All Hallows Eve and Tom was just putting on the last piece of reflective gear so he could head out for a short run. The big race was coming up. He had been training for four months already. He was reaching peak week: sleeping less, eating more, and running longer. It would be well worth it though, once he strode across that finish line. 20 minutes into his run he felt an old familiar twinge. The twinge turned into a dense thobbing, the dense throbbing into a sharp pain. Soon he was walking, hobbling home. Passing trick-or-treaters shouted compliments on his well done zombie runner costume. Alas, it was no costume. For Tom was being haunted. An old injury had returned!!!!
I told you guys. Spooky, scary stuff. I have chills.
Seriously though, if you are a runner, getting injured is probably in your top five fears (along with maybe accidently crapping your pants mid-run or bonking in a race). Injuries suck. Plain and simple. They take a toll on your body and your mind. Suddenly you question what you might be doing wrong and how you can fix it. Today I want to talk not just about injuries in general, but old injuries.
Confession: I am being haunted...by an old injury.
Last October I started to have some pain in my left calf. I kept running on it and then ended up taking about 8 days completely off running and it went away.
Fast forward to the end of January. The pain reappeared. I kept running longer, faster, harder. I ended up having to take six full weeks off (talk about a nightmare!). I started going to PT. I crosstrained. I rested. After six weeks I ran my first mile and built my mileage slowly from the ground up again.
Fast forward to today. I'm putting in 50-70 miles per week. Most of the time they are comfortable and enjoyable. Then all of a sudden I feel throbbing or stubborn pain in my shin. I slow down. I ice, I compress, and stretch. It disappears for days. Randomly it comes back. It never appears in full force as it did six months ago, but its there, waiting, bidding its time, ready to freak me out again at the most opportune moment.
Do old injuries ever really go away?
Truth - I don't know. Shortly after I first started running, I had some knee pain and had to stop running for 3 or so days (and I thought that was bad). I switched to minimalist shoes and haven't had any knee pain since. I don't even worry about it. Its just gone. The shin thing hasn't seemed to fully go away, however, and I'm starting to doubt it ever will. It makes me think that I will deal with this for the rest of my running career.
Am I actually in pain or am I just going crazy?
Speaking for myself on this one - most definetly both. Sometimes its hard to tell whether the pain is in my mind because I'm mentally focused on that area of my body or if it actually hurts.
How can you prevent old injuries from returning?
(Just a note - I am not a doctor, so I can't really tell you what works and what doesn't. I can only share my personal experience)
This training cycle has taught me a lot about listening to my body. If there was ever a day when something wasn't feeling right I lowered my mileage or went extra slow. I've foam rolled every single night and iced every single day whether I'm in pain or not. I wear compression gear on a daily basis (you know all the super cool people are wearing Zensah sleeves under they work pants) and take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement. And I still do my PT exercises every other night that I learned seven months ago.
Running is hard work and sometimes I don't feel like taking extra time out of my day to do strength training or foam roll, but its always worth it!
So tell me, are you being haunted? Have you ever had a running injury that has really completely gone away?