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.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve written a lot about running. Why? The answer’s easy; I’ve been embarking on marathons and made jogging a daily practice since I was young. I love the sport, and I enjoy talking about its quirks and joys. But even as an incurable runner, I think that it’s important to think beyond the track or winding path by periodically considering other exercise options. Now, as the weather cools and it becomes a bit more difficult to motivate ourselves to lace up our running sneakers and hit the road, I believe that everyone should take a moment to set their stopwatches down and think about their individual exercise practices. Are they balanced? What should be changed to create a more holistic fitness plan? Below, I’ve listed a few points to consider.
Unfortunately, running for five miles straight once a week won’t cut it. How consistent is your practice? Ideally, every runner should engage in 20-45 minutes of aerobic activity 3-6 days per week, every week. Those interested in building a balanced fitness plan should also schedule in resistance training three days per week, and gradually increase the amount of weight they use as they become accustomed to it.
Think outside of the box! I love running, but I don’t limit myself to it. Consider trying something new by taking up tennis or rowing. Or, if you prefer solitary sports, schedule a morning swim or bike ride! Incorporating new activities into your weekly practice will help you avoid one-sport boredom and help you exercise different muscle groups.
Give Yourself Time to Recover
Theoretically, you could exercise seven days a week – but you probably shouldn’t. Your body needs time to recover from the strain a workout imposes on it, so make sure to schedule in opportunities for rest and recovery. Allowing your body the time it needs to bounce back will boost your performance and physical well-being in the long run.
Remember to Stretch
You only have one body – so don’t mistreat it! Remember to stretch after workouts to loosen any potential knots before they form, and make an effort to concentrate on often-tight areas such as your quads and shoulders. Always make sure that you stretch correctly, as incorrectly-executed stretch may cause you pain. This is particularly important in the chillier seasons, given that winter’s characteristically colder air often causes muscles to stiffen more quickly.
Rainy days bring out the blue in all of us. On some mornings, it can feel as though rolling out of bed takes more emotional energy than you have to spare – that leaving the house and engaging with other people requires far more from you than you can give. On these days, you might feel like curling up under a blanket and staying there until the blueness of the day passes you by. But I have a challenge for the you that prefers to sink under the covers on those days:
Go for a run.
It may seem a lofty goal on days when emotional and physical energy feels in short supply, but exercising might help cheer you up and – counterintuitively – give you back the energy you lack.
Stay with me on this!
Exercise boosts mood.
While few doctors prescribe exercise as a form of treatment for depression and anxiety, a number of studies have shown that engaging in regular exercise can be as effective a treatment as antidepressants for those with major depression. Moreover, findings published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2007 further found that those patients who continued their exercise routines a year after the initial study had similarly high rates of remission when compared to the control group. Understated as it may be, exercise could be an invaluable tool for those struggling with depression.
Exercise Helps Manage Anxiety
Interestingly enough, habitual exercise may help those suffering from anxiety fend off panic attacks. According to Jasper Smits, PhD, Co-Director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the bodily effects of physical exertion align with those of panic attacks enough that becoming used to the former may limit the effect of the latter. As Smits comments in an article for the American Psychological Association: “Exercise in many ways is like exposure treatment […] People learn to associate the symptoms with safety instead of danger.”
Exercise Bolsters the Mind Against Stress
Exercise has a clear benefit for those suffering from stress or depression – and its effects may not be short-term. Some researchers believe that a routine pattern of exercise could help patients build a strong emotional foundation that allows them to cope better with future stressors. This conclusion stems from a study wherein submissive mice, which suffer social stress similarly to humans, were regularly subjected to bullying behaviors by more dominant mice. In one group, the bullied mice were left in spartan cages and given little opportunities for enrichment. In the other, bullied mice were given the chance to explore tubes and run on an exercise wheel. At the end of the study, the former group exhibited hiding and depressive behaviors, while the latter retained their vivacity and curiosity even after being bullied. For humans, these findings may indicate that regular exercise and stimulation can bolster the mind against future stress.
Blue days are unavoidable; however, a short run may help you break free of lethargy and find a bit of cheerfulness in an otherwise rainy day.
About Allen Curreri
Dr. Allen Curreri is a pharmaceutical professional, a researcher in clinical decision making, and a consultant. But first and foremost, Allen is a community member.
Allen Curreri is proud to call Atlanta, Georgia home for the past two decades. He cares deeply about his hometown, and after seeing how much his city gave to him as a young man, Allen is dedicated to giving back tenfold to the community he loves.
Allen considers it a personal responsibility and a privilege to serve his community in every way he can. Plus, Allen knows how to have fun getting his hands dirty for a good cause! As a family man himself, he is particularly drawn to the work of United Way, where he has been a loyal volunteer for over fifteen years, and counting. With United Way, Allen focuses on creating self-sustaining progress and strong communities. The mission? Filling the most vital gaps and providing for the most fundamental unmet needs: health, income, and education.
A long-time running and marathon enthusiast, you can often find Allen on the paths and tracks around Atlanta training for his next challenge. Nothing is more satisfying than taking care of yourself while working for others, and Allen Curreri is a great believer in getting out on the streets and running for a good cause in fundraisers and charity marathons.
Allen’s Current Project
All across America, thousands of students are denied the federal student aid they need to fund their dreams of a college education. Why? A one-time mistake. Few people know that teens with one-time drug offenses on their record are made ineligible for student loans or work study, even if they never re-offend again.
The kids affected the most are often underserved, underprivileged, and lacking support systems — kids who already fought every odd to get a quality education. Kids who’s dreams are crushed without the federal support they need to tackle tuition.
These kids aren’t looking for a handout, just an education. Allen Curreri’s mission is to give them a fighting chance to reach their goals. He is currently working to build an organization that will offer scholarships to youth with one-time drug offenses. Those who pass the rigorous essay and interview process will live out their dreams of attending college, right there at home in Atlanta, GA, where they’ll enrich the local community and economy.
Allen is currently seeking support and partnerships of all kinds to turn his vision — and the vision of hundreds of students — into reality.
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Allen Curreri studied pre-pharmaceutical work as an undergraduate and soon tailored his focus to the business side of the medical industry. In 2003 he entered the College of Business Administration at Georgia Southern University. As he worked toward his Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Allen balanced his studies with an entry position in medical sales. One year later, he joined GE Healthcare as an ultrasound equipment sales professional.
For the next eight years Allen worked with GE Healthcare, spending much of his time inside hospitals and ERs and cultivating the wealth of medical industry experience that guides his work to this day. When he left GE Healthcare in 2012 he sought out a role in pharmaceutical sales. He accepted a position as Director of National Sales at Prestige Medical Solutions Limited, and would eventually work his way up to Chief Operations Officer of Prestige.
Allen’s experience in pharmaceutical sales has allowed him to travel around the world and to network within diverse pools of professionals at industry conferences. A resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Allen has traveled everywhere from parts of the U.S. and Canada to England, France, South Korea, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. He attends conferences to track the expansion of different institutions or pharmaceutical companies; over the years he has observed some of the largest and most influential conferences attended by pharmacists, technicians, and Congressional health care policy writers.