Are you an injured runner who’s hiding from your injury? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run podcast.
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again? That’s a great quote from John Wooden and it really does apply to running injury recovery because what I see when I get runners who are doing second opinions on webcam is that they’re sort of half doing a lot of things.
They’re not really immobilizing it. They’re not really keeping the weight off of it. They’re not really not running. They’re half doing a whole lot of things and they’re not making any progress. And the concern they always tell me is they say, “Well, but I can’t drop all my running. I can’t stop all my exercise or I’ll lose all my running fitness.”
I got news for you. If you keep getting worse and you keep slowing down your runs, you keep running slower, you keep running shorter. And you’re actually over time, you’re losing your running fitness anyway, and it’s not paying off. You’re actually making it harder to heal your injury because you’re taking more time to heal the injury and the longer it goes before it actually heals, the longer it will take to heal in the end.
The number one concern all injured runners face is time. How long will I have to use the crutches? How long will it take for the surgery to heal? How long will I have to wear a fracture walking boot? How long will I have to stop running? How long is it going to take for me to do all of these things and in the interim, how much of my running fitness will I lose? That’s the question you’ve really got to be asking yourself.
I really do feel like most of the injuries, runners who call me for a second opinion over webcam, well, they’re making a critical mistake. They’re hiding from the injury. Here’s the ways that I can tell. Either you’re not tracking your pain at key times, like during that activity in the evening or the next morning, or you have pain and you don’t record when it happens. So you say, “Well, I know I had some pain.” Well, doing what? “When I was at the gym.” Doing what?
These are the questions I ask runners on these webcam calls and it’s incredible how many runners track everything with their heart rate, their pace, their perceived exertion, all these things, but they don’t track pain when they’re injured and pain is the thing that you really need to keep track of.
You’re also not basing your changes in activity on the trends of those pain levels. So even if you are recording them, if you’re not using those numbers to your benefit to determine how much more you can do so you can get your running fitness back faster, those are critical mistakes that I see runners make.
Now look, hiding from the truth is never going to make you heal faster. So you got to deal with it. If you’re injured, you have to deal with it. Doesn’t mean you have to stop running in all cases. But if you really do need to do some particular treatment, you want to do it just as aggressively as you would your mile repeats or your long runs. This is crucial. Remember, you got to record everything because you can’t hide from the numbers.
You can hide from the sort of emotional pain of being injured, the emotional pain of not getting to work out frequently, but you cannot hide from the numbers. So if you track your pain and you track your activity and you’re putting those things together to formulate a plan on how you’re going to maintain your running fitness, that will help you not hide from your injury and get past that injury much, much faster. So don’t ignore pain, use pain.
Any pain, tenderness, discomfort, stiffness, whatever you want to describe it as, anything that you feel, all of that will help you create a map out of the danger zone and back to running. So use those things to your advantage right now, keep track of it. Don’t hide from your injury and it will help you get back to running as quickly as possible.
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