What can doctors do to relate to injured runners? Well, that’s a great question, and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Today’s episode actually comes from the question-and-answer session at the International Foot and Ankle Foundation meeting in Las Vegas where I was lecturing on medical imaging strategies in runners to avert misdiagnosis. And basically, I was just teaching doctors about all the things I do that are a little bit different than what many doctors do to try to make sure you don’t get the wrong diagnosis.
Part of what I was explaining to the doctors is that it’s really important that they understand your specific goals because the actual methodology that we use is based many times on the condition and not the athlete’s goals. But if you get injured in September and you’re planning to run the New York City Marathon in November this year, you’ve got a very tight timeline. So, it’s really important to get everything right, right away.
If you’re not doing the race until a year later, well maybe you’ve got a lot more cushion and you can be a little more conservative on the way you’re treating things, but it really has to be based on your goal. So what happened was at the end of this talk that I was giving, one of the doctors there, Dr. Brad Hayman actually, asked a great question and he just said, “Hey, look, a lot of us who are not runners have a very difficult time relating to some of these runners because we don’t necessarily get why it’s so important that they’re doing a particular race.” And I was trying to explain to him, I said, “Look, the reality is that I know you guys want to help the runners. You just don’t understand them. I don’t really understand river dancing. I don’t really understand lots of things, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t relate to the athlete’s goals.” And so I said, “Look, if you’re talking to an athlete, you’ve really got to let them know that you are on their team, that you really do want to help them do the race.”
The problem that comes in is that when we as runners go in to see doctors and the doctor is dismissive of our goals and just like, “Oh, it’s just a marathon. You can do another one another time,” they don’t really understand how important it may be to you. They don’t really understand many times how much work you’ve put into it. And so, I was trying to explain to the doctors there about ways that they could actually help you understand that they are interested in helping you achieve your goal.
But what you as a runner have to do, and the most important thing that you can get from this, is that you have to realize that some doctors, they really have no clue about how hard you actually worked to qualify for Boston. They don’t know that you trained for nine years to qualify for Ironman Hawaii. They don’t understand that you may have tried for 10 years to get into Western States 100 or five years to get into the New York City Marathon. They just don’t really get it. But it’s your job to make them get it. So, if you want the doctor to be empathetic and to actually really help you achieve your goals of getting trained and ready for that next race in spite of the injury, you have to lead with your goal, not your injury.
So, remember, I know your foot’s injured. I know you have a stress fracture or tendonitis or whatever, but that’s not really the problem. The problem is that you have a race on the calendar that you want to do and the injury is interfering with that. And you need to frame it in that way when you talk to the doctors so that they can really understand where you’re coming from. And if you do, I promise they will all stop. Like Dr. Hayman, he’s a great guy. I actually had lunch with him that day. Very good guy, very interested in helping you. He just may not understand what’s really necessary for you to get to your particular race unless you explain it to him. But if you have a guy like that who’s your doctor, I promise he’ll listen. So, make sure you explain your goal in great detail and all of the stuff that you think you need to do between now and then to actually make it to your race. And if you do that, it will really help you get back to running a lot faster.
If you want to check it out, there’s something I’ve created for you that you might find useful. It’s the Injured Runner’s Roadmap and it basically is a step-by-step process that shows you everything I teach to physicians and that I teach to runners when they have a specific race they want to do, they have an injury, they need to start working out right away. It’ll show you exactly how to do that. You can get it for free. So come check it out and I’ll see you there.