I have been around the return from injury track a few times now and I think there are some important disclaimers those that are experiencing it for the first time can benefit from. Or even if you have had setbacks and injuries before these are still important reminders and it was beneficial for me to sit down and reflect on it as well. Especially as I embark on the road back to getting my running where I want it to be.
- It is not all sunshine and rainbows
- I think when we anticipate coming back from injury we think the heavens will open and the angels will sing and everything will be right in the world. WRONG! It typically feels awful, it is rarely pain free and it just feels HARD. I just ran 2x 1km this weekend ~5:30/km pace with a 2min walk break for my first run in 6 weeks. And it felt terrible.
- Now caution with this as wellà if your pain is increasing or is >3/10 or is worse the 24hrs post run be sure to consult your health care provider and /or coach as to how to proceed as this may be an indication that what you did was too much.
- Thinking ‘okay work is done’ and I can just run now
- WRONG again. Now is when the work really starts. Now it is important to be continually making improvements to the injured tissue and any of the mechanical issues that may have landed you injured in the first place.
- Being sure to take the time with the running drills and strength/mobility work. Which means there may be some time where there is less cardio work but more specific work to the injury.
- Cross train to make up for the time not spent running
- This is a tough one because while being off for an injury you have likely found a new routine in cross training and it is hard to not continue doing the exact same thing as you will not be running much when you first start back.
- However, it is important to back off the cross training in order to allow your body to adapt back to the running as that is after all the main goal.
- Continuing to address the underlying issues. Just because you have received the green light to run again does not mean the other work stops.
- Unfortunately sometimes this takes a couple of times (cough*ME*cough) but ultimately if you do not fix the underlying issues you will inevitably end up in the same position again sooner rather than later.
- So first things is first make sure you have determined what the true or at least suspected underlying issues are as to why the injury happened in the first place.
- Do not get caught up in the mileage or ‘the plan’
- This is so much easier said than done, I totally get it and am by far guilty of it. Already on my 2k run out I was planning out how I could get back up to ideal mileage. But thinking this way puts you in a position of potentially not listening to your body and again setting yourself up for setbacks.
- Progress is not linear
- As much as we like to believe that things will continue to progress in a linear fashion most times they will not. There will be setbacks along the way. Be ready to adapt as needed and as mentioned above do not be hung up on a plan.
- Be proactive
- Okay so this injury happened what are you doing to prevent it from happening in the future? I write this as I am coming back from my second hamstring tear. Again, as always do your best to learn from my mistakes.
- Accept where you are at
- As most of the above this is much easier said than done. But do your best to meet yourself where you are and be realistic with paces and expectations. Better yet do not have any expectations.
- Be kind to yourself & excited for what you can do!
- This is the position you are in so make the most of it! Celebrate the wins and roll with the setbacks. And ALWAYS look for the silver lining in between.
- Instead of thinking ‘I wish I was doing a 20k long run’ / ‘YAY I am so happy to be able to get out the door and run 2km’
- Trust the process
- It is true you can come back stronger and better but it takes a lot of trust and if this is your first injury it can be hard to believe that. But if you can keep that little bit of trust alive it will pay off in the long run… literally 😉
- Appreciate what you have learned
- Be sure to take some time to reflect on the things the injury has taught you about yourself, your running and what all of that means to you. I always believe if you can learn something from it then it can still be a positive experience!
As always thank you for reading and I hope this was helpful. It was beneficial for me to sit down and remember all of these realities as well.
Now here is to enjoying the process and finding those positive vibes!