A running related injury is like the dementors in Harry Potter for me, it completely drains and sucks the happiness and soul out of me. All of a sudden, I don’t know what to do and a very big part of my life comes to a standstill. There is nothing for me to share on FB (the addict that I’m) and all running related updates make me irritable.
In the month of March, post my first full marathon, my left foot was swollen and I was in extreme pain. I still went ahead and did an obstacle race a week post that. I still don’t know if it was a stress fracture or tendon sheath inflammation alone. Despite feeling miserable, I refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the injury. I started living in denial and continued working out (squats, lunges, burpees etc), running and standing for long hours (baking). I made myself believe that I’m over thinking a minor pain. To further make a point that all is well, I went out dancing wearing heels several times. Big mistake.
At that time, I was looking for answers, reasons for my existence, and the one thing that kept me going was my long runs. I couldn’t fathom letting go of it. But what is worse than an injury is running with an injury. I was being plain foolish.
I reached a point where the physiotherapist threatened to make me immobile by putting a cast on my leg. That’s when I decided if I have to run in the, well, long run, then I need to do things right. I followed RICE to the T and got my physiotherapy done regularly. RICE is Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate – Since I’m from a non-athletic background, I didn’t understand how that can help, but it does work wonders.
Here are couple of things I learned the hard way-
– Stretch, Stretch, Stretch – pre run and post run. Even if it means running half or one km less than your targeted distance.
– Listen to your body and know your body. Give it rest if you are not feeling completely up and about. Don’t confuse it with “I’m just being lazy, I should be out running”. It’s not about being a hero.
– Dip your feet in ice cold water after every long run within 24 hours.
– Vary the pace to avoid injuries. I can run at the same pace for hours and that’s what I had been doing. I don’t do tempo, hill or interval training as I find it too technical. But Fartleks, not only sounds funny, it is fun to do as well. It’s basically “speed play” involving unstructured and alternate moderate-to-hard efforts with easy throughout. You can read more about it in the link provided below.
– Don’t shy away from Orthopedics and physiotherapists. Knowing good ones is critical.
– It’s good to have crazy goals but running too much too soon is just plain foolish.