Coping with a Running Injury

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The mountains in Vermont are beautiful – but they hurt your calves 🙂

Around the middle of December I pulled my calf muscle. I didn’t really realize how bad it was at first, so I started a cycle of waiting a few days until the pain stopped, going out for a 5k and ending up in pain again. I finally realized at the end of December that it was a serious injury, of course I had already signed up for the Resolution Run on January 1st, so because runners are slightly crazy, I ran it – although I did take it easy.

I found out from my research that with this type of injury, you need to take a couple of weeks off from running.  When you start back up again, you have to ease slowly back into it. My first run on January 16th will have to be only 10 minutes long, gradually building up to 20 minutes, then 30 minutes etc.  I’m finding it particularly difficult to deal with this since I have a 30k race planned for the end of March. Going out for a 10 minute run when your running schedule says you should be doing a 20k will be hard to stick to.

When you’re recovering from a running injury you really notice how large a part of your life running is. Dealing with the pain of the injury is often not as difficult as coping with the frustration of having to put your running plans on hold. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from fellow runners on how to cope with a running injury:

  1. Use time off from running as an opportunity to work on core strength. This is something that many runners (like me) fail to work on. Along with the plank challenge, I found a really good video on ab exercises for runners, 5 minutes a day will do a lot of good. I’ve also found a Yoga for Runners video and a (not so) Beginners Yoga video that I’m finding quite challenging. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to touch my toes someday. 🙂
  2. Talk to other runners. I’ve been checking out some online runners forums and talking with my running friends. It’s good to know that a lot of people have been there and feel the same way. I’ve also got some great advice on what to do when I’m not running and how to get back into it.
  3. Keep active. Biking and swimming are good suggestions to keep active when you’re not running, however since I live in Southern Ontario, biking in the snow isn’t an option and I can only swim far enough to get myself out of a pool I’ve fallen into. Through my research I have found out that Kettle Bell workouts can be a great form of cardio so I’m going to incorporate those into my workouts at least until I’m back up to my normal mileage.
  4. Find other stress relieving activities. Running is definitely a great form of stress relief. Going out for coffee with friends, enjoying a crossword puzzle or getting a relaxing (or therapeutic) massage can help you deal with your stress and fill the running void.
  5. A sense of accomplishment. Start and finish a project that you’ve been wanting to do for some time. Getting something done around the house or finally finishing that knitting project will give you a sense of accomplishment that we often get from races.

Although this injury has set me back a bit, I’m hoping to make the best of it and come out ahead with a stronger core, more flexibility and feeling refreshed.

Have you ever been sidelined with a running injury? What have you found helps you cope?

– Jackie – Jackie

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8 thoughts on “Coping with a Running Injury

  1. I have been forced to stop running for a while too. And I too am itching to go out and run way longer than I should when I start back. Running is a crazy, addicting workout!
    I love to do yoga and strength training while recovering. I like your points 4 and 5. I find that when I get stressed out I want to run even though I shouldn’t yet and have a difficult time finding an outlet. And the sense of accomplishment is missing for me too. Great things to think about! Hopefully I can find some things to meet these needs soon!
    Best of luck on your recovery!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Today is a beautiful mild day for Ontario and I so wish I could get out and run. Hope you find your outlet and hope you can get back to running soon. 🙂

  2. My injury was with my IT band. Suggestions by my doctor for recovery were to gradually get back to running through proper stretching & use of a foam roller to break down scar tissue & help circulation in your leg muscles for better healing. Also strength training which I did at the gym for my legs by seated squats, leg extensions & individual leg curls. This kept my legs moving & prevented inflaming the injury from the impact of running until I had recovered fully . Made the transition easier & helped me not to get depressed from feeling like I was falling behind from an injury, instead it taught me a great lesson in better care of my body & limits. All the best, looks like you will back at it soon and in even better shape than you thought.
    Cheers!

  3. I really like the comment about your sence of accomplishment when finishing a race, that it’s like finishing a knitting project. I understand running a tiny bit more now!

  4. Have you thought about water running? You don’t need to be able to swim well, just use a life belt around your waist to keep you buoyant and “run” in the deep-end of a pool. It’s a good workout keeping the running muscles moving without the pressure of pounding the pavement.

  5. […] My final training run had 220m of elevation throughout and I pushed my pace, so I’m hoping that will make it okay race day. If all goes well, I may just match my time from last year even though I missed all that training time with an injury. […]

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