Several weeks ago, during my last race, I ran past a man who was not running. He was standing off to the side, holding his leg. He clearly looked like he was in pain. I watched the other runners around me glance quickly at him as they passed by. Aside from feeling bad for him, all of us were probably thinking the same thing—we’re glad we’re not THAT guy. The INJURED ONE.
To non-runners, getting an injury—even a short-term one—that prevents them from running might be very inconvenient and worrisome. But if a runner gets an injury that prevents him or her from running, it…well, it feels like the end of the world.
Getting injured means the sport we have devoted so much of our time to must suddenly come to a complete stop. If we’re training for a specific goal, such as a marathon or other type of race, it means all our training must be put aside until we’re better.
I think the worst part of getting an injury for a runner is the unknown. We never know exactly when it will get better. And once it is healed, we have to slowly work back up to the level of fitness we were at prior to the injury. This takes even more time, since we want to prevent re-injury.
According to my running books, here are some ways for runners to avoid getting injured:
1) Build your weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.
2) Never run through pain.
3) Stretch gently, before and after running.
4) Don’t race or do speedwork too often.
5) Invest in and get properly fitted for a good pair of running shoes.
Keep in mind there will be some days when we’re just not feeling our best. On those occasions, it’s okay to slow down our pace a bit and not push too hard. We’re not machines, and we can’t expect the exact same performance from our bodies every single day. Our entire focus should not be about keeping to our running schedule 100%. As Kathy always says, “if we run all the miles laid out in our training plan but wind up injured or sick in the process, we won’t even make it to the starting line and will lose the opportunity to compete.” And what good will this do us then?
So, take a step back for a moment and reflect on the bottom line. Think about your goals and the most efficient way to reach them—while staying healthy and avoiding injury.