If you ever run into injury many times, your first step is to sit still and wait. Sometimes that’s a problem and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Yesterday I was on a call with an injured runner, and I actually did call him not because he scheduled a consultation, but because he had actually done the Fast Track challenge a while ago. I just wanted to check in with him and see how he was doing.
Well, it turns out he’s doing great. So, he gotten past his injury. He learned a lot of stuff in the challenge that he could actually use to apply to his training, so he wasn’t losing all his running fitness and he’s on track for running in this ultra marathon this year. He’s working with a coach and he’s doing great. He has no limitation from the injury and got him into the Fast Track challenge.
What was really interesting about that conversation, and what sparked the idea for this particular episode is that he said something to me that actually kind of shocked me and got my attention. I said, “Is there anything that you wish you could have done differently if you went back?” and he said, “Yeah, I would have called you sooner for a consultation.”
The reality is I actually said, “Look, don’t be hard on yourself.” I tried to console him, and I said, “You really have to understand that the overwhelming majority of runners who get injuries will get better in just a few days and really don’t need to call me for a consultation. But that few days sometimes drifts into weeks or even months before you take action and does it very gradually. Many times, you don’t even realize it’s happening.”
The way it goes something like this. The first thing that happens is you get an injury, and everybody tells you to sit still and wait. Your coach says take a day off skip that one workout. Maybe your running buddy says okay, just give it a couple of days. And then you read some article online that says that if you have an injury that isn’t better within three days and you have pain for three days, well then you should call a doctor for appointment.
So, you call a doctor, you schedule an appointment, and you wait some more. And then when you get there, you’ve been waiting in the waiting room of all things and maybe you’re even told after you see the doctor, you have to wait for another x ray because they don’t see anything on your initial x ray. And so all of this waiting gradually turns into a longer time.
It’s even worse if you don’t talk to anybody because what you sort of naturally do is you stop and wait because you have an injury. Maybe you take a day off and then get a couple of days off or you just go for a short run, and it hurts but not quite as bad as it did a day or two ago. So, when you do, you run shorter, you run slower. You start dumbing down on your workouts, you’re kind of losing all your fitness. You’re not making progress, but you’re waiting for it to get better and because you’re kind of beating it up initially and you’re not really giving it enough time to fully recover, you’re actually getting worse progressively, although slowly progressively but you’re getting an exponential loss in your running fitness.
That was what he said when he said “Well , I wish I would have called you earlier for a consultation” because he would have saved a lot of his running fitness and he ended up losing while he was trying different things just waiting to see how it goes before he actually got into the Fast Track challenge and we started working together. But if you have an injury, really rested initially, if you have an injury and it’s not getting better quickly, do something either diagnose it yourself, figure out what’s going on, figure out how you can get it better or talk to an expert, but don’t just drift into that gray zone without direction for weeks or certainly not months.
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