It’s a moment that every runner recognizes – and dreads. A stray foot, a quick tumble, and a sharp pain tells you in no uncertain terms that your formerly peaceful morning run has come to an end. But what about the job you planned for tomorrow, or the weekend marathon you’ve been training months for? Unfortunately, those might just be out of reach, too.
Ambitious and hard-driving runners can seem near-invincible. They take on seemingly endless marathon courses and come out smiling; albeit winded and a little sweaty. Runners are remarkably healthy people; but they, more than many casual runners or other athletes, are prone to painful injuries such as stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, or even joint damage. Without proper recovery, this injuries can be long-lasting or seriously reduce a runner’s capabilities. Here, I outline a few ways injured athletes can makes sure that their recovery goes as smoothly and effectively as possible.
Prevention is Key
The best injuries are the ones that never happen. Prevent potential injuries by incorporating warm-up and cool-down practices into your routine, and remember to always wear running shoes that support your feet. If you feel as though something might be off, check in with your doctor or trainer! Checking in about a seemingly minor injury now could save you a great deal of pain – and lost training time – down the road.
Try not to push yourself beyond your limits while you’re recovering. This self-policing can be frustrating for ambitious runners who want to achieve, but it’s absolutely vital to a short and speedy recovery. When you return to running after an injury, limit yourself to five- to ten-minute running periods spaced between walking interludes. During each walking period, check in with your body. If you feel pain, stop and assess your injury. Otherwise, keep going! Over time, you can add on time as you feel appropriate.
Try Other Forms of Exercise
Running is a high-impact sport that can, unfortunately, exacerbate injuries. Avoid the risk by trying less-stressful activities such as swimming, cycling, walking, or using the elliptical. When planned out correctly, these sports can provide the same cardiovascular workout as running, without the potential for impact damage.
Stop When You Feel Pain
Always, always, always stop if you feel pain. By attempting to push through a painful workout, you might just make your injury worse – and lengthen your overall recovery time.
An inactive recovery can be emotionally draining. Try to stay positive by keeping in touch with your running community, and support your friends at their races! With enough rest, you will be able to recover your strength and join them on the trail.