Tuning out injury, tuning in for recovery and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc on the Run podcast.
Overtraining injuries only happen when you ignore a problem, and that’s what I’m talking about by tuning out the problem is that you get an overtraining injury because you did feel something, but you ignored it. You’re used to tuning out pain, and that’s good. You couldn’t become an accomplished runner, you couldn’t become a marathon, you certainly couldn’t become fast if you weren’t capable of tuning out discomfort and putting in the work to become a strong runner. But that works against you when you get injured.
You get a little tightness, a little stiffness, a little odd sensation here or there that may turn into an Achilles tendon problem or a metatarsal stress fracture or peroneal tendonitis or a partial rupture of the plantar fascia. But it didn’t happen one day. It happened over many days of ignoring that problem and disregarding that little discomfort that was in one spot, which you know is not normal. But the process that we use to help injured runners get back to running really does focus on tuning in to that discomfort more than anything else.
Today in the runner’s aid station, I was actually talking with someone, and we were talking about how everyone ignores trouble. I’ve done it myself. So I actually, incredibly, ignored what I knew was an issue where I was getting sick. I was ramping up and I was getting sicker and I ignored it. Why? Because I thought, “Well, it’s just a cold. I’ll just ignore it.”
I was getting ready to do Ironman Hawaii. Well, it took me a long time to get a slot for Ironman Hawaii. So I did what I thought I needed to do. I needed to train, and I needed to go do this really long 10-mile run in pouring rain on a cold day because I needed to. At least I thought so. Well, what that did was it made me get pneumonia. Then the day before I was leaving for Ironman Hawaii, I was in the hospital getting a chest X-ray. My doctor’s talking to me going, “Chris, Ironman Hawaii is a terrible idea.” Well, that was a terrible idea, but I did it and I survived. I’m sure that you’ve survived your running injury to this point too, but you have to make sure you get it behind you.
The process of tracking your pain with a pain journal is tedious. I will acknowledge that it is not fun, it is not exciting, it’s not as fun as looking at your perceived exertion going down while your run distance is going up, it’s not as fun as looking at your mile repeat seeing how much faster you’re getting, but it’s essential. The process of regaining strength and balance as you heal is also essential. It does not feel like a big workout. It’s not gratifying. You’re not sweaty. It doesn’t feel like you put in a huge effort when you’re doing some wobble board training to get your re-balance back.
But you have to get balance. You have to get it under you again. You have to get your feet sort of established, and you have to get your position in a way that will actually give you better form because that’s basically free speed. It’s actually free distance when you’re injured. That’s the way I think about it is that when you do these things like focal strength training to support and protect that one injured part, when you do balance training to make sure that you don’t wobble and load things at such high levels asymmetrically, that’s free distance. That means you can run farther before you fatigue and you’re at risk of re-injuring that part.
The process of ramping up and analyzing the feedback that you get from that healing tissue forces you to tune in closely, but tuning in will injury-proof your body. If you’ve been injured and you’re trying to get back to running, that’s the big key.
If you haven’t seen it yet, go check out the 12 steps presentation. This is a deep dive I do into the exact steps I would go through if I was sitting in your living room or if you booked a one-hour webcam call with me to help you figure out whether or not you can actually run with your injury and what you should do to make sure that you get back to running as quickly as possible.
You can get it for free. Go check it out. It’s at docontherun.com/12steps. If you found this episode useful, please like it, share it, give it to somebody who’s a runner who might be struggling with an injury so that they can get back to running as quickly as possible. I’ll see you in the training.