4 risky times for running injuries
Today on the Doc On the Run Podcast, we’re talking about the 4 risky times for running injuries.
All day long I talk to runners about running injuries and I think about running injuries and of course most running injuries are over-raining injuries.
Running injuries are not injuries where you tripped and fell. It’s not when somebody pushed you down. It’s when you pushed yourself way too far and injured and overused and abused one particular piece of tissue that’s caused an over-training injury. Now that can be your Achilles tendon. It could be a metatarsal stress fracture, it could be plantar fasciitis, it could be anything, but there are times when you’re more prone to getting running injuries and there are some indicators of your lifestyle and the way you feel and the things that are happening in your life that can actually really put you at risk of an over-training injury.
If you’re driving a car and you feel like you’re sleep deprived and you feel like you’re at risk of falling asleep, you’d probably do something to adjust for disaster.
You wouldn’t want to run your car off the road and have an accident, so you might turn the radio on. You might roll the window down. You might shift around in your seat or something to try to prevent yourself from falling asleep, but you would be aware at least that you’re heading for trouble in that scenario. And when you’re running and training for a big race, you should understand that there are some certain times in your life when you’re actually a whole lot more risk at developing one of these over-training injuries.
Now, the first thing is pretty obvious. It’s when you’re in your biggest build phase of the season. So you know, most runners are doing periodization of training. You’re basically building up your mileage and you build up your time and your speed and your distance and everything, and then you drop back down, recover a little bit and ramp up again.
And those ramp ups get bigger and bigger and bigger as you approach your key race of the season. So when you’re in your biggest build phase, you have had the maximum amount of abuse to the muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments in your feet and legs. And that’s when you’re at the biggest risk of developing an over-training injury.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your biggest build phase. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do your speed work. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your long runs. It just means during those times and during those workouts and in the the day or so immediately following those workouts, you want to be particularly attuned to paying attention to your body.
Thinking about how things feel, are they just sore and stiff or is it really kind of a little bit more than that? Does it feel a little bit more uncomfortable than just the sort of stiffness and typical soreness you get after hard workouts and if it’s more than that, you got to your coach and do something about it.
You really want to be on guard during your biggest build phase.
A second time that people tend to get injuries is when they’re sleep deprived. So sleep is the most abundant and the most underutilized resource available to runners, and if you have anything going in your life that leads to sleep deprivation, no matter what it is, maybe you have a baby they keeps you up all night, maybe you have stress that’s keeping you up all night.
But whatever it is, if you’re ever in a period where you’re sleep deprived, you need to pay attention and watch out for that additional kind of unique, different, strange soreness cropping up in your muscles or your tendons, your ligaments, your feet, whatever, that could signal the beginning of an over-training injury because the sooner you treat any over-training injury, the faster it will go away and that makes a huge difference in how much you can continue to train as you ramp up for your race.
The third time people get into trouble is when you have massive new work projects, you have some new level of responsibility. You have some sprint phase of producing a new product in your business. You have some new shift where you take on a brand new project that leads to a lot of stress and a lot of angst and maybe even sleep deprivation. Those new massive projects can often add so much stress to your life that you actually wind up with a stress-related injury and all over-training injuries in runners are stress-related. It is too much stress in you and it’s too much stress on the particular structure.
I mean, think about it, stress fractures are called stress fractures.
They’re not called, “you ran too much fractures.”
They’re not called “the bone was too weak fractures.”
They are called “stress fractures.”
So you need to watch out for those work projects that add too much stress to your life because that is when you might wind up with an over-training injury.
And the fourth thing is when you have some kind of family difficulty. Let’s face it, aside from work, we spend most of our time with our families and when you’re with your family and you have anything that’s disruptive and it could be a whole range of thing,s it could be something as obvious as going through a divorce. It could be something as obvious as a death in the family. It could be something like one of your kids get sick and has to have surgery or becomes hospitalized.
All those things are incredibly stressful because we do not want to watch our loved ones suffer. We don’t want to see our kids be uncomfortable. And all of those things cause a lot of stress for parents, for children who have other older family members who gets sick. All those things can be very stressful and if you’re trying to train for your first marathon when you’re going through one of those things, you’re probably at a high risk of developing over-training injuries.
If you are a seasoned marathoner but you’re ramping up for your race and you’re just confident in your routine, sometimes you have a tendency to stick your head in the sand and ignore the little signs of an over-training injury and you just keep training because you think you’re familiar with routine and it’s always worked in the past and you’re not really accounting for this increased level of stress that comes from problems at home. So you have to pay attention to all of these things.
Be on guard in your biggest build phase. Watch out for any period of sleep deprivation. Realize that when you have a massive work project, you have additional stress. And if there’s any kind of craziness going on in your family that’s disruptive, that’s upsetting, that’s when you also have to pay really close attention to your body and listen and look for those clues that you’re heading for an over-training injury.
And if you do that, then just back off, skip a workout, avoid your next speed session, or maybe cut your long run short, but do something and take action so that all that stress doesn’t add up and result in an actual over-training injury.
If you have a question that you would like answered as a future addition of the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me PodcastQuestion@docontherun.com. And then make sure you join me for the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast!