Unfortunately, no matter how healthy you’ve been throughout the course of your life, the chances you will deal with an injury while running are extremely high. It all depends on the individual, though. Some runners spend years plagued by injuries, while others have dealt with one or two different injuries in a career.
Me? I’m currently dealing with my second injury in the five and a half years since I started running. My first was in the summer of 2008. I had just come off completing my first half-marathon in a stellar debut time for my age, and I felt like I was invincible. Less than a month after the race, I suffered a stress fracture, and wouldn’t be healthy again for four months.
Now, I am dealing with a muscle injury sustained during a speed workout while training for next month’s Los Angeles Marathon. It has been five weeks since I’ve been able to run. Just last night, I was forced to make the tough decision of withdrawing from the race that is just three and a half weeks away. The past five weeks has taught me a valuable lesson in running. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan, and you are forced to adjust.
Luckily in running, just as in life, when one door closes, another opens. My door to the Los Angeles Marathon might have shut when I injured myself, but last night another door opened for me, the door to the Eugene Marathon in April.
After speaking with my family and my coach, we determined that running the Eugene Marathon would be best for my long term goals and health. As a result, the stress of the Los Angeles Marathon creeping up on me is now gone, and I’m able to reset my focus to recovering from this injury, and getting back towards marathon training.
When dealing with an injury, the hardest, yet most important step is to rest. This can be a challenge for many runners dealing with their first injury. Most runners want to get back out on the roads as quickly as possible because they are afraid of losing fitness. The good news is that when you return from injury, it doesn’t take long for your body to remember its’ fitness level. Returning from injury too quickly is risky, as you could re-injure yourself and fall back to square one. Don’t return to running until any pain you’ve been experiencing has completely gone.
When you do get back to running, don’t be worried if you feel sluggish or sore. Today, I ran two miles, and even though just last month I could run 16 miles comfortably, the two miles felt like a challenge. Luckily, like I said above, this is normal, and it will not be long before your body is back to normal. The important part when you return to running is to come back slowly, building up your distance gradually. When you can run a simple distance like a mile comfortably, add another mile to your next run. Before you know it, you’ll be back to your normal groove in no time.