As a youngster I combined running, studying at university and a part time job and barely had a second to focus on recovery. From 18 to 28 I spent half of every year either injured or returning from injury (8 stress fractures and a few torn muscles later). As an older athlete I’ve learnt to read my body, understand the different signs prior to an injury and manage my load better. Most importantly I am a lot better at making recovery a priority, even as a time poor mum!
I found that there was a pattern with each injury. I’d get run down, get a cold, have low iron and then get a stress reaction; which I would turn into a fracture by trying to run through it! I’d run while the pain was minor and eventually, I wouldn’t be able to walk on it! You’d think I would’ve learnt after the first few wouldn’t you!
So my first lesson is…find your pattern and break it! Injury prevention is better than enduring one! What has the previous 3 weeks been like before each injury – would you change something in those 3 weeks, if so, write it down and make a conscious effort to do it differently next time.
Check out your training program right now. Do you have built in recovery trots after big races and solid track or road sessions? Do you record how you feel each run and occasionally look through your diary to try to find any patterns where you feel a little flat? If you don’t, it is great to start doing it. Instant feedback on how you are responding to the training program allows you/your coach to tweak things to bring out your best!
If we take a risk with load, run with a virus or when suffering from stressful situations, we do get injured. We may plan everything to the best of our ability and twist awkwardly on a tree root or clip a curb in the dark and we’re out of action through a silly incident. Argh! Injuries are frustrating, rob us from what we love…when all we really want is to be out there with our friends, chasing a PB! I have learned over the years that injuries can be a blessing in disguise!
I got injured at the end of 2013 and in 2014 I had Peter Richard – now that was the biggest blessing of all! I’m not saying we should all get injured and have a baby! Wink Wink! But if I could do one thing differently whilst injured than that of my younger self, it would be to rest while injured. I spent an hour a day in the pool or in a spin class when I was injured year after year and not only was it extremely boring (unless I had my best buddy there). I wasn’t giving my body a chance to heal.
The cross training would make me more tired than my normal training program. I’d have trouble fitting it in as I couldn’t do it from my front door like I can running training and it was just plain boring!
The only way to change the pattern is to know that after 10 years of injury I am my own little physiology experiment and when I cross trained versus when I didn’t, my return to running took the same amount of time!
Tip: If you can access an Anti Gravity Treadmill use that as guided by your physio and doctor when it’s time to load again. It’s the most amazing advancement in technology and something I didn’t have in my teens and early 20s!
When injured now I set myself a goal in my life that is extremely important to me. One which takes approximately the same amount of time as the injury will to heal and focus my energy on that goal. The weeks fly by and I am still feeding that achievement section in the brain – it’s a great distraction. If that fails and you live in Melbourne you are welcome to come play garbage truck and recycling truck games with our 4 year old Pete! He’ll keep you entertained for hours!
Tip: Don’t be afraid to eat well after a long run, your body will thank you!
Always remember, you are more than just a runner. You never know, with the extra time available to you while injured, you may just be good at something you never even knew until you try!
Connect with me on Instagram and I’m happy to answer any questions you have!
Lisa Weightman x