Running After Injury
Back in the beginning of the summer, I was running pretty fast for old guy. I had just come off a second place overall 5K finish, and had my sights set on edging under 18:00 minutes for the first time in almost 30 years. Things were going really well… except for that nagging pain in my left heel. No time for that BS! I’ve got races to run, and the track isn’t going to light itself on fire.
A few days later, I awkwardly hobbled to my car from the orthopedic surgeon’s office with a heavy heart and a fractured calcaneus. The ‘Summer of Jason’ was not going to happen after all. Instead, I spent my summer nights wearing a velcro boot, and passed the days hopping around on crutches. My running fitness evaporated faster than wet footprints on hot asphalt.
By August I was walking again. My stress fracture had healed. But, I was still plagued with an unforgiving case of plantar fasciitis. It was just something I would have to deal with if I was going to run the 2016 Boston Marathon. I made a plan to walk, jog, and run my way back into shape by December. Along the way, I became very familiar with my red Coleman cooler (perfect for submersing a size 13), and I left a thousand shoe prints on baseboards across New England.
December is here, and I’m up to 40 miles per week. For the next 21 weeks, I’ll be following a Daniel’s marathon training plan that consists of two quality workouts and four ‘easy’ days each week. I’m designing a training plan to get me to the finish in under 3:10:00. That will be a new personal best by just over 10 minutes, but perfectly reasonable if I’m healthy throughout the training cycle.
5 Things To Do When Running After Injury
Now that I’ve been seriously injured, I’m terrified that it will happen again. The phrase “Once Bitten Twice Shy” comes to mind. (And, because I’m a product of the 80’s, that leads directly to the bluesy, hard rock sounds of Great White.) Here are a few simple things runners should do to keep from getting injured (again).
Regular Stretching and Foam Rolling
Dynamic stretching before running, and static stretching after runs, can significantly improve flexibility and range of motion. Yoga is a great way to increase both strength and flexibility. Foam rolling helps to break up the myofascial adhesions that occur in our muscles. Massage therapists do this with their hands, but not all of us can find the time or the money for massage therapy. Instead, we practice what experts call self-myofascial release or SMR.
Warming Up Before Runs
Warming up properly before a run is absolutely critical to staying healthy and running well. Yes, it takes time and patience. But, you’ll run faster and feel better. The first mile is usually the worst because we’re not ready for it. If you’re racing, you’ll want to warm up even longer. Most top runners arrive at the starting line with sweat already trickling down their temples.
Listen to your body and notice the subtleties of your running form. Take some time to consider whether you are favoring one side of your body, or perhaps your stride has a new hitch in it. Sometimes an existing injury can lead to overcompensation, which can then lead to secondary injuries. Everything is connected. If you aren’t healthy enough to run yet, you shouldn’t be running.
Wear Good Shoes
Good shoes are about more than simply wearing some trendy new kicks. Be sure that you are wearing the right kind of shoes for your foot. Do you have high arches or flat feet? Does you foot turn in or out? Do you strike the ground with your heel first. or your toes? These are the kinds of questions you need to answer before you select a shoe style. Do some research before buying your next pair of shoes, so that you can find your perfect fit.
Enjoy Rest Days
Running every day will not make you a faster runner. In fact, running everyday can lead to mental burnout and overuse injuries. If you need your endorphin fix, consider cross-training on a bike, or in the pool. Stay fresh, and healthy by sleeping eight hours a night, eating well, and taking rest days when you feel run down.