I’ve been injured a few times, but I’ve always come back stronger from a running injury. I haven’t PRed the next day, but I have gone on to PR after every injury I’ve had.
It isn’t by luck or by a miracle, but coming back stronger from a running injury means taking the appropriate amount of rest. After you are completely healed, then you can come back slowly. It’s not a short process by any means, but if you don’t take the time to recover, you’ll end up where you started-hurt.
As I’ve come to realize, I’m more susceptible to bone-related injuries, not because of weak bones but because of my running form.
Here is some information I’ve learned about coming back stronger from a running injury:
Don’t Push It:
When coming back stronger from a running injury, it’s important not to push your mileage, pace, or distance. Running for time becomes more relevant. Personally, I also ditch the GPS watch because I can focus on how I feel. It also eliminates the ability to compare yourself to previous fitness levels. When you are coming back stronger from a running injury, you are just happy to run!
Don’t forget; you aren’t a hero for going zero to full mileage. In fact, you’ll end up reinjuring yourself or coming back with a new injury.
Calories In>Calories Out
My orthopedist is a strong believer in making sure you flood your body with the appropriate nutrition. I’m currently taking a vitamin for calcium and vitamin D, but I’m also not skimping on meals just because I’m not running as much.
I would rather come back into running, knowing I have the appropriate nutrients to keep me running versus getting injured because of a vitamin deficiency. You won’t come back stronger from a running injury by not fueling appropriately and getting proper nutrients. If you are looking for a nutrient blood test, I suggest Inside Tracker.
Don’t Worry Fall into the Comparison Trap:
It’s human nature to compare yourself in any situation, but it’s not smart, especially coming back from a running injury. With social media, it’s easy to compare someone else’s training and comeback. Heck, it’s easy to compare yourself to other versions of yourself. When you are coming back stronger from a running injury, the only person you should focus on is you at your current state.
Comparison will only result in frustration. It isn’t going to affect your training. We are all different, and we all respond to injuries differently. Even if you have the same injury twice, your body will respond differently.
Finding the Right Shoe:
When you are healthy, looking for the right shoe is hard enough. When you are injured, looking for the right shoe is ten times as hard. Having appropriate running shoes for you is arguably the most important thing you need for the sport of running.
So why does shoe choice matter?
It’s important to determine whether you need a different shoe or even shoe size after any injury. Broken bones can alter your gait or form. You might need a different shoe altogether. While working in run specialty, I’ve fit customers whose foot has swollen an entire size or whose form has completely changed. If you’ve had an issue in your foot that has kept you sidelined, it’s important to get your gait looked at again.
Don’t be afraid to get fitted again for a new shoe because shoes are going to play a huge role in you coming back stronger from a running injury.
Coming back stronger from a running injury doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent weeks and not pushing the pace. The rest and recovery will help you PR in future races; it just takes time.
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Questions for you:
What have you learned from being injured (or hopefully, you’ve just never had a running injury)?
How do you avoid comparing yourself to others (in anything)?
whenever i’m injured i tend to search the hashtags on instagram with my injury (#itbandinjury #runnersknee etc) and I look for support that way instead of falling down the comparison hole.
I do exactly the same- #injuredrunner is my favourite. Chatting with other injured runners definitely makes you feel less alone!
Such a good reminder when you are in the thick of an injury. It stinks so much at the time, but knowing you can make the best of it really helps.
this is exactly what I needed to read right now. I’m just coming off my injury for real and I want to make sure I’m being smart about it. I’ve been working on increasing my strength while I’ve been sidelined, so I’m hoping that pays off haha.
I think a lot of these points apply to those who take a break from running too. It’s easy to think you can pick back up right where you left off, but that’s not realistic. I dealt with a bout of runner’s knee last year and quickly realized that I needed to do more to prevent it from happening again. Setbacks can teach you so much!
I absolutely love how smart you are being about this. For me, every time I have been injured, it is always about remembering that I want to do this forever and making sure I take the time I need to heal.
I run in very cushioned shoes: I really like the HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 4 and Clayton, because they’re wide enough for me. But the Stinson and the Clifton are narrower and might work. They look a little silly with all the cushion, but they’re way easy on my knees and ankles.
I always recommend getting re-fitted for shoes after an injury. I did, and found out that my old shoes may have contributed to my injury (not that you ever know “for sure”, a lot of injuries are mysteries like that). Either way, it never hurts to get refitted and buy new shoes for when you start running again after any layoff because our feet change.
I have had two injuries (well, one injury and one major bout of severe anemia that forced me to take an extended break). Both were tough, but I did some cross training and eventually PRed in everything after. I took 7 weeks off in 2014 for a stress reaction, but 6 months after returning to running, I had new PRs in every distance I raced. It took 7-8 weeks for me to fully get back to running my usual mileage, though, and I avoided speed workouts for awhile.
When injured, none of us are alone. It’s amazing to read the stories of the Olympic Trials Competitors and how many injuries they have had. They can come back strong and we can too!
from my injury i actually learned about my feet and the kind of shoes they need. the mizunos i was wearing were too inflexible for me so i switched to something more springy and flexible. my feet seems to be happy for now but i have noticed my shoe preference changes over time. funny how that all works.
I try to remember that if I’m planning on running for the rest of my life, taking a few weeks off isn’t going to kill me and it’s better to come back from an injury fully recovered instead of re-injuring immediately. Easier said than done though….
I try to limit the social media intake during these times and catch up on reading actual running books/articles. It helps keep me motivated for the comeback and not sucked into comparison.
“I could write a lengthy post about the importance of eating enough to train” <– you definitely should! I feel like a lot of people don't realize just how much and what you're supposed to eat when you're putting your body through a lot of training. Adequate rest is definitely something I've learned the importance of through my injuries. That and making sure I don't jump back into it too fast.
It’s amazing how strong you come back after each injury!! You are right, that extra rest can be very beneficial. I think the biggest thing I learned from injuries is that the world doesn’t end if I can’t go on training! If I make running my life, it’s much more devastating- but I’ve found ways to balance it so that I can enjoy other things when I’m not running and appreciate the break. But those first few times I had forced time off were hard!!
I have been wanting to try the Wave Enigmas for years but no local stores carried them! I’m glad to know they are in stock now and that you like them. The Wave Rider doesn’t have enough cushion for me to train in them daily at higher mileage, and the Enigma seems like a nice step up. I hope we can run a 5K together when you’re ready to jump back into racing!
How did you like the Cliftons? I am considering those or the Altra Paradigms. Interestingly enough, the Saucony iso’s have been my favorite too, but I am fairly injury prone as well due to form. I’ve had knee trouble off and on for several months and def need extra cushion… Let us know what you think!
I actually tried Altra a whole ago and they weren’t my favorite. The new Clifton seems to work well for my foot. It’s much wider and right now I’m enjoying it.
So right on with all of this! It will take time but, your body (and mind) always seem to come back stronger after an injury. Go get it!!!…slowly 🙂
I had a month off my running training due to an ankle injury, I started back this week so this was just the post i needed to read! Thank you!
Hollie, you are amazing. I really needed this post right now. Even though I am ill and not injured, much of this applies. Particularly with nutrition. I didn’t know you worked at a running store. Where do you have time for all that you do!?! Excitedly awaiting your shoe reviews.
I’d like to second what Amanda said: will you write “a lengthy post about the importance of eating enough to train”? It would be super helpful to see what/how much to eat both during intense training and during rest/tapering times!
AH! Perfect! I’m taking a week (or two? we’ll see) off due to some nasty PF in my left heel. These are some great tips I’m looking forward to following through with when I throw on my running shoes again. Thanks!
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