Running injuries are never welcomed, and are certainly never embraced. When runners come up against any form of ache, pain, strain, break, or tear, they know the next steps are rest, rehab, and healing. It’s no one’s idea of a good time.
As someone who tries to find the silver lining, running injuries can also bring some valuable lessons. While my biggest injury to date (broken tibia and fibula) wasn’t a running injury, I have been privy to plantar fasciitis, a tweaked hip flexor, and tendonitis. All of these have sidelined me, made me take a hard look at flaws in my training, and adjust my plans.
Resting Isn’t Failing
It’s as simple as that. Resting is necessary to the process, and rest helps us grow stronger. It makes no sense, but it’s true. When you rest, you give your muscles, joints, and mind a chance to regroup and heal, which leads to better results down the line. Before injury puts you out of commission, find a way to work rest days into your training plan.
You May Be Overtraining
While not always true, so many running injuries are the result of overtraining. It’s hard to pull back once you’re in the habit of pushing hard, but when you’re injured, it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate and see how you can make your training more efficient and more productive. Cut back the number of days you run. Lower your efforts and take your easy runs at an easy pace. Little adjustments like this can help keep your training tight and reduce your chance for injury.
You May Not Be Well-Rounded
Sometimes, running injuries are a clue that while you are strong with your miles, you have allowed other things to fall by the wayside. It’s ok. It happens to the best of us. But when you’re recovering from an injury is a great time to assess your cross training and see where you may be falling short. Build strength in other parts of you’re body while you’re healing, and come back stronger than ever.
You May Need To Pay Better Attention To Your Body
If you’re like me, you may have a tendency to “run through” discomfort, aches, or even pain. Sometimes, that gamble pays off, but sometimes, we are ignoring a larger problem. There is no valor in abusing your body. Pay attention to the things that feel off or painful and make the corrections you need to stay healthy.
Slow + Steady Always Wins The Race
It’s tempting to rush back to running, but the answer is honestly slow and steady. Injuries can help teach us all the patience we never knew we needed. And patience is never a bad thing. Take your time coming back. Check in with yourself often to make sure you’re ready and don’t rush things. It’s better to be slow than risk aggravating something and doing more damage.
Running Will Be There For You
No matter how long your are sidelined by injury, running will be waiting to take you back. It might look or feel different, or it might fill a different need, but it will never forget you. While you’re recovering, keep the long game in mind, and just focus on the goal.
What lessons have you learned from your running injuries?
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