December and January have flown by. Heading back to Canada for the holidays, then returning to Leeds for exams and a quick ski vacation, has left me wondering where the time went. After a long hiatus from running and even longer from blogging it’s time to get back into some sort of routine. I injured by foot over the break. I had a recurring bout of plantar fasciitis, which is a persistent pain on the bottom of the heal and the inside of the foot. It started the week I got home and most likely had to do with the great distances I was running in preparation for my 10 mile race. I let it rest until Race Day, but sure enough the pain came back mid-race. I was proud of myself for completing the final 7 km, but in hindsight I should have stopped running. Afterwards, I decided not to try my luck and to fully let it heal before trying to get back into running. It’s now been about a month and I’m easing myself back into it. So far, so good.
Needless to say, I didn’t get much running in over the holidays. I was, however, left with much to write about regarding injuries. Running injuries can be from trauma or overuse. Traumatic injuries are sudden, and include breaks, sprains, torn ligaments. They require immediate professional treatment if the pain or swelling does not subside within 30-40 minutes. Overuse injuries, on the other hand, are much more common and develop over a long period of time from repeated stress and impact. Achilles Tendonities, Runners Knee, Plantar Fasciitis and stress fractures are all common overuse injuries. The founder of the Running Room, John Stanton has a book called “Running” with a great chapter on injuries that highlights the causes, symptoms and treatments for each of these. Worth checking out if you have more questions or want more information!
I thought I’d focus more on common causes of injury– when you’re ok to run through pain, and when it’s best to sit one out.
- Too much too soon—make sure you increase your mileage gradually
- Worn out or improper shoes
- Skipping “rest” days or running too hard on “easy” days
- forcing a run when you’re tired or not feeling well
- Too much speed or hill training
Again, John Stanton’s running guide (I picked mine up in Indigo for $25) has a great checklist for running through an injury. But here are a few points from the chapter:
- Gage the pain, don’t run if there is swelling or bruising, if the pain is intense and getting worse through the run, OR if you have to alter your form in order to run
- If the pain starts at the beginning but then disappears– continue to run but focus on stretching more in your next warm up and start off slower next time. You could even consider running later in the day once your body is naturally warmed up
- If pain starts part way through your run– continue as long as the pain does not begin to worsen. Also try and stop running before the onset of the pain if it is something that happens frequently.
- If the pain starts after a run—cut distance in half until you fix the problem, make sure you ice after a run even before the pain begins
It’s also really important to remember (and this is something I usually have a very hard time doing) that you have to ease back into it wen starting out after an injury. John Stanton recommends starting at 50% of your usual training volume and increasing 10% a week if its going well. One key point he makes, which I’ll have to keep in mind is “don’t race until you’re ready”.
As I mentioned, the chapter on injuries is very helpful for anyone looking to learn about an injury or injury treatment/prevention in more detail. Personally I have three rules I live by when it comes to running injuries:
- Strength training and stretching are crucial
- Ice is your BEST friend
- Listen to your body—if you’re tired or not feeling up to a run, don’t force it. Similarly, if you are in pain, STOP running or SKIP your run that day. You only have one body and running takes its toll on it.
I wish you all happy and healthy running! If any one has any questions at all I’d be happy to try to answer them or find someone who can!