Today, on the Doc On The Run Podcast, we’re talking about the number one cause of confusion in injured runners.
I was recently doing this presentation that I mentioned, and one of the things I really thought about when I was putting that together is, why the runners always go wrong? How is it that they get injured, they know all of this stuff about training, all of this stuff about running biomechanics and form and nutrition and everything else, and then get injured and have to call me even after they’ve seen doctors?
Really, what it is is that we get things wrong. When you get injured, every single person, every time I’ve worked at a finish line of a marathon, as one of the volunteers who helps people that show up and wind up in the med tent, all the people that I know who get injured who are on a triathlon club or training for some big event, even elite athletes, what they do is more than anything else I say, “I have this pain, what is it?” And they shift their focus in a direction that is completely counterproductive.
Many times, they wonder for days or even weeks, “What is this? Why do I have this pain? What is the pain?” They try to put a name and a label on it instead of really paying attention to what it really means. And when I say that what I mean to you is that, if you’re injured and you’re not sure what the diagnosis is, that’s not the most important answer you need.
The answer you need is how much does it hurt and what can I do right now? And what can I do where it will not hurt at all in terms of activity? Because you have to remember that above all else, when you’re a runner and you’re trying to train, and you put so many months of time into training for an event and building your fitness and building that base of aerobic fitness, it is very easy to lose quickly.
It is very, very difficult to build it back up and it is demoralizing if you go through that process and then get re-injured. What you have to do immediately is start figuring out what can you actually do and how bad does everything hurt with everything that you try? Because these are going to be guiding principles and the things that actually sort of focus and channel your energy so that you can maintain your fitness because you have to have a measure on what to do.
The unfortunate reality is, is that many of these runners who’ve been off for months, they’ve been in a fracture walking boot for four weeks or six weeks or 12 weeks and they get pressed, and they get bummed out and they think their doctor’s doing a terrible job because they’re still in a boot. And then they call me for a second opinion.
The first thing I do is I ask them, “How much did it hurt right afterward?” Most of the time they have no idea. They don’t know. This is sort of like if you go back at your training log and you look at when you first started training what your pace is, you record that, you look at what your heart rate was, you record that.
Then when you’re actually getting in your big building blocks, you have those things to use to compare, to see whether or not you should put more or less effort into your training to make sure that you continue to progress without getting an over-training injury and without getting sick. Those are the things that you need when you’re actually trying to advance your activity level and maintain your running fitness while you’re injured and sometimes it takes a while to get a diagnosis.
It may take you days or weeks to get an appointment with a doctor. It might take you months, if you have to get an MRI in Canada, could take a year, who knows, but you have to go on the information that you have that’s useful for you.
Remember, your number one task as an injured runner is not to get a diagnosis and sit on the couch. Your number one task as an injured runner is to do everything in your power to keep your strength, keep your fitness and make sure that you’re actually ready to return to running when that one injured part actually heals. That’s what you have to really think about.
If you’re injured and confused, start with what you can do right now, and make note of it and keep track. That is the most important thing you can do for sure. If you need additional help, get it, but go through the 12 steps presentation. Go through it, it talks step-by-step what I would actually do, so go through that. And I think that’ll give you a lot of ideas on what you can actually do right now to make sure that you’re moving in the right direction and not just sitting there wasting away. Go check it out. It’s docontherun.com/12steps.
Thanks for listening.