I’ve been running a long time, perhaps 12 years in a ‘sort of regular’ way and perhaps ‘on and off’ for the 14 years preceding that. The ‘off’ periods being more influential than the ‘on’ periods of course, but that’s another story. Along the way, I’ve had all manner of injuries, as happens to all runners, being side-lined with this and that, but recently have been enjoying a long phase without a side-lining injury….so yeah I know I’ve probably just jinxed that now, too late now, but why is that?
Looking back I remember the first really worrying injury. It was 2006, a sore foot after a long run, couldn’t put any weight on it at all for days. This eventually lead to my first ever consultation with a physio and as luck would have it, a marathon runner too, and so understood the desire to be back running quickly. So on this occasion it turned out to be both overtraining related and running in the wrong type of shoes and cost me 4 weeks of running downtime. I was running in basically anything that looked like trainers, as I’d always done, but there comes a point where this is inappropriate for the mileage and something with more structure was required to support my dodgy pronation.
That was the first of many visits for things like ITB pain, shin pain, achilles issues or whatever, all injuries seemingly coming ‘out of the blue’, but over time you start to see certain patterns emerging that lead to the injuries. For example, changing the terrain, from flat roads to very hilly off-road tracks or from plodding about out-of-season, to starting to train for a 10k with a lot of speed work. The big one, the mother of all training patterns was ramping up mileage for a marathon, naturally, but all these seemingly lead to the same place at some point or other – injury.
Over time you start to find ways to deal with injury avoidance that work for you, but it’s a slow learning process, perhaps because we’re so used to thinking ‘it’ll be fine…’ Knowing what shoes work for you, knowing to ramp up slowly on mileage, knowing to stretch regularly even on non-running days, or even something that I’ve found that works for me which is running a bit less, but supplementing exercise cravings with cycling, bootcamp, swimming or long walks. However the thing that I think has worked best at keeping injuries out, has been proactive, preventative visits to a sports therapist, the idea of not actually waiting for an injury, but rather keeping regular appointments in the diary, so that niggles are dealt with early.
Being injured sucks! Its way too frustrating for words but in some, but not all cases it is avoidable if we can learn from how we were injured in the past. It does take time, but its worthwhile thinking about how to injury-proof yourself. Ask yourself what an injury would mean to you…then what you could do to limit the chances of you getting injured. Cross-train a bit instead of always running? Check running gait? Replace over-worn trainers? Stretch more? Whatever works for you is likely not the same combination that will work for someone else of course, but the end result is the same. Its taken me a long time, but I think I’ve found my combination, but having jinxed myself now by saying that, I am fully expecting to get injured sometime soon J