I feel like the entire 2015 season was about injuries. I’ve been thinking a lot about the effect these injures have so it seems like a good time to talk about what I have discovered and the effects they may have on a person’s life.
Injuries can be placed into two categories; chronic and acute. Chronic injuries are probably the most common for runners or endurance athletes. We like to go hard and go hard often. Chronic injuries are caused by a repetitive strain to an area of the body (tendonitis (itis= inflation), stress fractures/reactions, IT band tightness, patellofemeral syndrome – to name a few). Some of these can be caused by muscular imbalances, some can be caused by tension in another area of the body resulting in overuse of a weaker muscle or tendon, and some can just be a result of poor biomechanics. But, all of these are chronic injuries. The other type of injury is the acute kind. These are injuries that are caused by a single event, such as rolling your ankle or slipping on a patch of ice and breaking a bone.
These are all problems and probably will result in time off of our favourite thing to do, running. With a 100% chance of you getting injured in one form or another during your running career, preparation, both mentally and physically, is important. This is why I thought I would share what I’ve learned in case they may help you
One of the issues that a runner may find difficult is the breakup of the daily norms. When a healthy runner is training without any issues to their body, life can be so blissful. Things can just fall in sync – get up, do the first training session, go to work or do the daily activities, recover, do the evening session and repeat. But, when you have an injury this glorious pattern falls out of order or even completely changed. Often you’ll be tacking on more time travelling because you are not just stepping out your front door. You are going to and from training facilities (pool, gym, personal trainers, spin classes, etc.), spending your lunch hour with different specialists (physiotherapy, cryotherapy, massage, doctors, etc.). What does this all equate to? Time. It takes a lot more time to travel to these places, therefore adding more time on to your training. The legendary coach Dr. Jack Daniels said that as good as an elliptical is it will never be as good as actually doing the real thing, running. I believe you get about 2/3rds of the benefit from an elliptical as you would from running on a road. Say your morning run is 30 minutes. You should be on the elliptical for 40 minutes to get the same benefit.
Then, while you are working away on the elliptical, you may question if all of this extra stuff will really improve your chances of bringing the body back to its original fitness pre-injury? Then the mind starts to question how long this process will take? The nature of running means that improvement and success are measured in terms of hours, minutes and seconds. It’s no wonder we all think the same way when coming back from an injury—When am I going to be able to get back to it?
Often these injuries happen at the worst times. Just when we are hitting our stride, or pushing the limits in our training to utilize the noticed improvement, an injury happens. Sometimes it’s our need for excellence, or, sometimes it’s our constant feeling of never being content with our abilities, that leads us to injury. It can be difficult to avoid overuse injuries, but that’s another blog in itself.
If you are injured, getting through it may simply come down to the way we think about the process. We have a choice: we can make it a positive (relatively speaking) or a negative. If we keep the faith in the body and its ability to recover, it will make the whole process easier. If we can prepare ourselves that these injuries might pop up, and be prepared for the mental/physical readjustments that go along with healing, it will make the process a little more tolerable. Like a healthy body, an injured body won’t always stay in that state. The body will regenerate and, if you do the process correctly, you will be able to come back fit and frisky to break personal bests!
Natasha (my housemate referred to in an earlier blog) has had to go through the recovery grind because of an injury to her foot. She has approached the rehab with good spirits and a positive outlook. Seeing her up early to go to the pool, then hitting weights before I am up for my first run, is very inspiring. This was a new thing to me, having never lived with a runner. She has approached her injury and the recovery plan with such a mature outlook. I asked her to give one tip to an injured athlete and here is what she had to say, “Stay positive.”
The major message is that, like most things, the way we view things in life will hinder or help us. It’s sometimes easy to be a pessimist but being an optimist can make the difficult parts of recovery seem a little shorter. Accepting that injury is a part of the process helps to put the disappointment in perspective. This might be the time to try new activities such as swimming, strength training, pool running, spin classes, yoga, going for hikes etc. These are great ways to experience new challenges when the body isn’t able to do its #1 passion: running those killer splits in those short split shorts. Haha!! When I’m injured, I often think about some works from a Frank Turner song: “Yeah, ‘cause broken people can get better if they really want to. Or at least that’s what I have to tell myself if I am hoping to survive!”
As we are about to celebrate the apostle of Ireland’s life in a couple of weeks, I am gearing up to run the St. Patrick’s 5km race in Vancouver (http://www.stpatricks5k.com). I am hoping to improve on my personal best and maybe take a little bit of that peanut butter money (fastest first mile)! Training has been going well. Also, I had a great time at the Running Room photo shoot. Folks, I never realized that so much work goes into the production of those shoots. Being the method actor that I am, I took my role seriously. I made sure that I was running my miles before and after the photo shoot. After a few days the legs came around to the level of where my optimism is!
Hope everyone’s training has been going well and the spring dreams are in clear view!