How to deal with injury constructively

recoverySo, you’re training for a big event… a run, big walk or triathlon… 6 weeks into your 12 week training plan… and ‘PING’ something goes.

You’re injured and you need to reassess your training and goals.  I used to get upset when things like this happened to me, but now I don’t seem to care as much.  There are more important things in life.  😀

The usual advice for injury is RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation… and here is some information about the top 12 running injuries... but how can you deal with an injury constructively? 

recovery1Straight away I reassess my goals and rethink what’s important.  I’ve entered lots of events and pulled out of one due to injury and one because I thought it was the best thing to do at the time. (See wrecked my knee and my plans and change in direction for me)

In my case, I’m planning to run a Glasgow Marathon on 30th March.  6 weeks into my 12 week training plan, I get an injury in my hip flexor which might put me out for 1-2 weeks off running (maybe more if I’m very sensible about it). 

glasgow-marathonLucky for me the marathon I’m planning is not an event that I’ve paid lots to enter, and I can, if I want, move the date of it. But if I still want to run the marathon on the 30th March or if I wasn’t able to change the date… how might I suggest dealing with injury when training for an event like a marathon?

1.       Reassess your goals

Is the marathon / event really that important in the grand scheme of things?  Can you move your goals to another event later in the year, or can you amend your training in the next 6 weeks to allow you to complete it on the date you wanted to?  Your goal  may be a sub 3:30 hour marathon…and you might have needed the full 12 weeks training to get there.  What if you can take some time out and then aim for a sub 4 hour marathon?  Or simply to just get around and enjoy yourself / the event? 


Could you amend your training to include 1-3 weeks of rest (or cross training which doesn’t affect the injury) and restart your training with less long runs than you had originally planned?  Can you focus on something other than exercise for a bit whilst you let your body recover?  Healthy eating?  Yoga?  Walking?  Drinking more water?

recoveryAnother thing to consider is, are you maybe taking on a marathon too soon in your running career?  I’d recommend you get at least 4-5 half marathon events /  distances under your belt before you progress to a marathon.  Each to their own, but halfs are great ways to build endurance and gain experience in running. I know I’m ok in this area, but perhaps I am increasing my mileage too much too soon, time will tell.

I’m planning on 1-2 weeks of rest (swimming, walking and the odd strength session), and after that I’ll see how my hip flexor is.

Then the following long run training:

Wk8 – 18/02/13 – rest week (see how hip flexor is)
Wk9 – 25/02/13 – Long run Sat 2nd (between 8-13 miles in Inverness)
Wk10 – 04/03/13 – 16 miles (route specific)
Wk11 – 11/03/13 – 20 miles
Wk12 – 18/03/13 – 18 miles
Wk13 – 25/03/12  – 26.2 miles!

The increase in long runs might be too much, so I might move the date I’m doing the marathon, or reconsider what I’m doing after two weeks.  The main thing is to keep reassessing your training and goals based on how you feel and how your body is coping.  Nothing is set in stone and I don’t need to do anything my body doesn’t want me to do!

2.       Look on the bright side

I’m known for being positive, optimistic and looking on the bright side of life. 😀

excuses nike

I find the best way to deal with an injury is not to get upset or worried about it.  Be sensible and listen to your body.  Change things so that you don’t aggravate your injury and let your body recover.  When I went over my ankle before playing basketball, or when I wrecked my IT Band, I just stopped running.  It was a horrible thought, as I love running, but I needed to give it up for a while (6 weeks at one point!).  I used to see runners going past and think, ‘I wish that was me! It’s unfair I can’t run’, now I look at them and think, ‘I’m resting from running and I’ll be back out enjoying runs soon’. 

runI still wanted to remain active, so went swimming, did strength training and did spinfit or interval training on the bike.  I looked at my training in cardio terms: I just replaced my run sessions with bike or swim sessions.  I changed my focus from running, to other goals, which made me feel less upset about not being able to run.  Running isn’t the be all and end all… there are plenty of things you can do to remain active and keep fit.  

Look at how far you have come and consider your life as a whole, or in your running career.  You might have come a really long way since you first started our running.

You might have let running take over and maybe neglecting another part of your life.  Make sure you have a balance between everything: work, life, relationships, play. 

3.       Listen to your body and recover before you start training again

barra run 7 tomListen to your body and don’t let the pressure of an event push you back into training too soon.  Ensure you get enough rest and recovery (1-3 weeks) and don’t start up your training again until you are sure your body / injury is ready for it.  Do other things like go out and catch up with friends and family or volunteer at local races.  Take some time out to do that task that’s been hanging over your head for ages because you’ve been too busy with your training (decorating, DIY, ironing or housework for example).

If you have a training plan and it’s becoming to hard on you, take another look at your training plan.  Get advice from personal trainers or gym class instructors.  Take rest days after your long runs and hard runs… and don’t run too many consecutive days.  Alternate training days as cardio / strength / cardio / strength / cardio / rest.  Give your body enough time to recover.  Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with sticking to a training plan when you should be listening to your body and taking well earned rest.

4.       Look at your training



Look into why you got injured.  Was it too much too soon?  Did you increase your mileage by too much, too soon?  Were you not taking enough rest days?  Are you running too many days in the week?  Do you feel well?  Be realistic and listen to your body. 

I like to just run 3 times a week:  easy, hard (or easy) and long.  When I increased my run frequency to 4 days a week, I started hitting problems: Injuries and getting fed up of running.  Stick to what feels right for you and make sure you get enough rest.  If you’re knackered and need rest, forget the guilt, and take rest.  Rest and sleep is as important as training so make sure you get plenty of it.

5.       Learn from your injuries

Find out about your injury from online resources, personal trainers and physios.  Find out how you can recover, and how you can prevent it from happening in the future.  I know that with me coaching Kaizen Run Club on a Tuesday and Sunday, I need to change my long run day to a Wednesday instead of a Saturday.  And I need to take a rest day on a Thursday after my long run day.  Learn when to pull back from your training, and when to pull out of events.  Don’t run with pain, learn to do ‘everything in moderation’ and know when enough is enough.

photo2If you take time out, your body will have time to recover.  And when you’re back running you’ll really appreciate running injury free and your body will thank you for the time off you gave it. 

The most important thing is to remain positive and not be down about being out.  You might need to change your goals or priorities, but if you remain positive and focused you can do whatever you put your mind to.

More info:

Injries and how to prevent and deal with them
Top 10 ways to avoid overtraining
IT Band Syndrome
IT Band Injury workout
12 running injuries
Thinking about running an ultra marathon
Overtraining Syndrome
Rest & Recovery links / tips

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1 Response to How to deal with injury constructively

  1. Pingback: January revised plan | Lorn Pearson Trains…

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