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So You’re Injured…Now What?

As most people know, I spent the last few months injured and recovering from a fractured ankle.  While it wasn’t the end of the world, it definitely put a damper on my spring, summer and even fall plans.

I recently talked about “how to come back from an injury” but I haven’t talked much about to do while injured or what not to do…

Injured from running

Thinking out loud, Injuries are tough because they take a toll on you mentally and physically.

Most runners can relate to this mindset: As soon as you get injured, your motivation to workout stops.  If you can’t run, why trying to do anything else?

You spend a few weeks moping around, and no one understands your pain.  I’ve been there emotionally and spent days and weeks, just feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve also been on the opposite end of the spectrum of maybe cross training too much.  What is the balance?  

I’m not recommending to cross train 2 hours a day or even workout every single day.  It’s important, however, to stay motivated and look at the big picture.  I’ve said this multiple times, but fitness is a collection of workouts.  It’s not one day, week or month but what you consistently do.

So while you might not be running this month, you will get back to running again.

Before this particular injury, I had PRed in everything from the 5k to the half marathon.  I spent a year building a base and fitness.  I saw results that I had been dreaming of for years.

When I was diagnosed with a serious injury, I didn’t know where to turn.  I knew I didn’t want to let my fitness go to waste, but I also knew I didn’t want to overdo it with cross training.

During this particular injury, I took the time to look at the big picture and do the smaller things to keep me healthy.

Here are a few tips for maintaining some (not all) fitness when injured:

Rest is Best:
But you shouldn’t sit on your couch for two months.  You should follow your doctor’s orders.  If you’re in a boot, you shouldn’t take it off to sneak in workouts.  If you push yourself with cross training, it’s going to make the injury worse.  Since there is no Elliptical Olympics, it’s not beneficial to spend mindless hours crosstraining.

Make a Plan:
If you don’t have a recovery timeline and plan, then it will take a lot longer to recover.  Work with your doctor, PT and any specialists you see to create a plan.

One of the most important issues to address is the why of the injury:

  • Be honest to yourself of why did you get the running injury.
  • Are you overtraining? Malnourished?
  • Is your gait or form creating injuries?
  • There are thousands of different answers to your injury and it’s important, to be honest with yourself and your doctor.  Otherwise, it will reoccur!

So what did I learn during my two months of recovery?

I’m injury prone because of my gait and form.  Since I run so far on my toes, I put a lot of pressure on my metatarsals.  This means I’m more susceptible to fractures in my feet and bone issues versus muscle issues.  Working with professionals is one way to fix this, but it will take time.

Questions for you:
How do you “deal” with injuries?
What was your last running or workout injury? 

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Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

It feels like I picked the hottest and most miserable weather to get back into shape.  Even though I only took two months off due to injury, I lost a lot of fitness.  Honestly, that’s fine.  We can’t be in peak fitness forever, and a break doesn’t hurt anyone.

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Coming back from running injury can be tough, and getting back into shape isn’t always the most pleasant experience.  Getting back into shape when it’s scorching, can be even more miserable. A few people asked if I would include tips for coming back from running injury. In the past, I’ve been injured several times.

I’ve “come back from running injury” many times. Many were overuse injuries or trying to run through pain. Due to my form, I’m prone to stress fractures in my feet. Now, at the risk of injury, I take days off or do cross-training activities to avoid injury.

I’m not a coach, expert, or anything close.  I’m just a female who likes to run and blog through the journey.

Here are a Few Tips for Coming Back from Running Injury:  

  1. Track Everything: When returning to running after an injury, this is especially important. I began tracking when I felt any residual soreness and how I felt during the run.  Slowly, the residual pain started at 1 mile.  Then later it was 2.  Then even later it was 3, and finally, after I finished a 5-mile run, I realized I was completely pain-free.  Tracking things allows you to see physical progress.
  2. Set Achievable Goals: You aren’t going to be 100% pain-free or set a PR within the first week of running. Setting realistic and achievable goals is essential.  Maybe it’s to work up to racing again, or perhaps it’s run consistently every day.  Making a goal keeps you focused.
  3. Easy Running: When you start running again, you’ll want to do everything fast. You are ready to start running faster and improve your fitness level. When returning to running after an injury, I recommend finding a training plan or training schedule to follow. There will be days, you feel like you can conquer the world, but that’s the day not too. If you run too fast or too much, too soon, you’ll end up with another injury (I’ve been there). After each stress fracture, I’ve found a plan that includes walk breaks, seeing a physical therapist, and strength training.
  4. Stay Positive: This is easier said than done.  I try and focus on the positives on each run.  Even if the positive if just “I ran injury-free.” Any healthy run post-injury, is a good run. Short runs, or 30 minutes are better than being injured (a philosophy I still use today).
  5. Continually Reassess: Injuries are tricky that way. Some injuries, you come back and feel on top of the world.  Other injuries, you feel as though it will take months or even years to go back to where you left.  To be honest, this is an injury that is taking longer than anticipated. I reassess my foot daily to see where I’m at and how I feel.
Finally, remember your fitness is a collection of workouts. A day, week, month, or event a year isn’t going to make or break your journey.
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:
Do you have any tips for coming back from a running injury? 
What is your favorite type of weather to run in?

Workouts: Racing and Taking a Step Back

Like most of the Northeast, it was scorching last week.  If I weren’t motivated to get back out there, I would have struggled with most runners. Luckily I was driven by the pure fact I’m able to run again.  Plus I don’t have certain paces or workouts I need to hit in the heat, so that makes it a little bit easier too.

All of my runs have been easy.  They are boring, and I’ve been running for about any hour 4 days a week and two longer runs.  This time, period makes for several uneventful training logs.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: Midweek Long Run 85 minutes
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 50 minutes
Saturday: Healthy Kids 6k (20:01)
Sunday: Long Run 90 minutes
Total: Roughly 50 miles

My race on Saturday went better than expected. Despite the heat, I was able to run a 20:01.  It was about 20 seconds faster than the week before.  I ran the race last year in cooler conditions and ran a 20:13. So I’m happy with the time for now.

running 12

The main question: So how’s my ankle feeling?

I do still have a little bit of achiness.  It’s not painful, but it is noticeable. I’ve had three weeks of solid base building, so I’m taking a step back next week and taking a few days off.  While I do believe it’s residual pain but, I would rather be safe than sorry.  There is no need to push it now.

Thus another short and relatively boring training log complete.  I wish I had something exciting to share, but the boring parts of training have their place as well.

Questions for you:

How long after an injury do you normally feel “good’?

Is it hot where you are?

Workout Log: (99% Injury Free?)

Training log:

As demotivating last week was, this week was much better.  In fact, this was the best week I’ve had while returning after my injury.  Along with my running feeling good, I decided to get my butt in gear and actually do the little things.

Me running

Monday: 40-minute easy run
Tuesday: 40-minute easy run
Wednesday: 60-minute easy run Core
Thursday: 3000-meter swim Core
Friday: 30-minute easy run Core
Saturday: 30-minute easy run
Sunday: 65-minute easy run
Total: Roughly 30 miles

Thoughts:

To be honest, this was the first week of running I didn’t feel “injured.”  It’s been eight weeks, but I finally feel, “normal.”  I’m nervous to type that out. My ankle doesn’t ache during the before, during or after which motivates me.

However, I’m still monitoring my ankle.  While this week felt good, that doesn’t mean every run will.  I’m at the point that I miss running and training consistently.  I’ve been out for most of the summer, and I miss it.  Hopefully, I’ve made it through the initial hardest part of recovery, and now it’s back to increasing mileage.

I was happy to get to the pool once and do a few core workouts throughout the week too.

My plan for the next month is to continue to slowly increase mileage and possibly add a few races too. I know I’ve lost fitness, but it will be nice to get a good baseline.  I don’t have any major goal races picked out because no injury recovers the same. I don’t know where my fitness is or how fast I’ll be able to return to running.  Honestly, I don’t even know what I want to train for.

Questions for you:
How was your week of workouts?
Is it scorching hot where you are? 

Training Last Week: Unmotivation Station

To be honest, last week didn’t go as planned.  I was able to get 30 minute runs in, but that is a half hour of my day.  I didn’t make time for core, strength or any extra stuff.

running me

Workouts:

Monday: 3-mile group run
Tuesday: 30-minute run
Wednesday: 35-minute run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 30-minute run
Saturday: 40-minute run
Sunday 30 minute run
Total: Between 20-25 miles

My favorite run was the Saucony “Run Pops” Group Run.  Saucony has come out with a line of limited edition bold colored shoes called “run pops” (think popsicles).  It was not only great to run with people but it was my favorite run too.  Lemon is my favorite popsicle flavor and the Saucony Triumph is my favorite shoe…I should probably purchase these when I’m back to running 100%.

saucony run pops group run

So what happened?

I fell off the cross training planet last week.  I could make a lot of excuses, but I was busy and honestly the heat just unmotivated me. In 95 degrees, I feel like the pool should have been welcoming.  But I chose to stay inside and didn’t get out there.  I’ve also taken on another project, so that has kept me busier than normal too.

How does my foot feel?

Last week, my foot felt achier than it has in previous weeks.  Whenever I come back from any injury, I’m always achy for about a month afterwords.  Each time, my doctors tell me it’s soft tissue damage, but I get nervous.

Right now I’m in the phase of thinking: is my bone not healing? Is it just soft tissue and residual gunk? I would rather have answers and not question things. Also, I have struggled the last two weeks of missing running normally and not worrying about it.  I miss the ability to go out for a healthy run and not be plagued with worrying if I have completely healed.

My running last week was going through the motion of getting back into shape.  It’s been nearly two months since I’ve run much, so everything is sore.  I know I haven’t lost all of my fitness, but I do know I’ve lost some.

So combined with the unknown of my foot, wondering if I’m healing and the heat I lost most of my motivation last week.  It wasn’t a week I’m particularly proud of but not every week can be perfect. Next week I plan to get back into my routine with core and cross training.

Questions for you:

How was your week last week?  Was it hot?

How do you stay motivated in the heat?   

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