Hi friends! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Houston was fun (though hot!) but it’s good to be home again too.
Despite the title I’m not injured… but since my mile repeats last week my shin/calf has been feeling a little “off” and as you know, I am super conservative these days when I have any messages from my body. I have learned the hard way what running through pain can do (lots of time off !!) and I’d like to prevent that.
So even though I had no pain running yesterday, I still “feel” it talking to me throughout the day and I decided to do extra cross training this week in place of my runs for a few more days. This means yes, I’ll likely lose a bit of running fitness but overall it’s a trade off I’m willing to make.
It struck me that this decision came so much easier than it has in the past. I think it’s because running injuries have taught me three things:
1. The earlier you stop running, the better!
This is obvious but most of us try to pretend like we’re fine and power on through our workouts until it’s too late and then we can be sidelined for weeks or more. Ever since dealing with a stress fracture 4 years ago, I’m determined not to run through pain.
Yes, I may lose a bit of fitness in 5 days off but most of the time those few days are enough to heal a small discomfort. If I don’t let the stress from that workout heal, I’m going to keep riding that fine line of injury until boom! I’m out for 8 weeks. And clearly being out for 8 weeks has a much more dramatic impact on fitness than 5 days.
For others who might battle the shin splint/ stress reaction issues that I do, I found this article really interesting. He argues exactly what I’ve found- that many shin issues fall on a spectrum (not you do or do not have a stress reaction) and can often be resolved in 4 days as opposed to needing weeks off IF they are dealt with immediately.
2. Each time I take time off from running, I’m less stressed about it
Let’s be honest, it’s never easy to stop training!
We stress about losing fitness, missing key workouts, missing our race goals after so much hard work and sweat behind us, over eating junk to squelch our misery, etc.
And it’s not like it’s ever an easy decision. But that first time was by far the worst!! I went through all the grief stages- and simultaneously felt guilty for grieving over something so silly as not being able to run.
Now, I still get bummed by the idea but I have perspective. I know that taking time off is and healing will make me stronger.
Because in the recovery process comes healing, and in the healing process, our bones, tendons and ligaments are actually strengthening themselves to be ready for that level of stress next time.
This is why I used to get hurt every time I ran more than 30 miles in a week. But over time, I was able to push that injury line back to 35, 40, 45 and 50. But if I do it too quickly or with too many speed workouts, my physical body let’s me know it needs extra time to catch up to what my cardiovascular system is doing.
3. I know it will be okay
I know that I will run again. I know that I will run hard workouts again. I know that I can come back and still get pr’s and hit new race goals. AND I know that my body will be stronger for taking the time to rest.
It doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch everyone in my Instagram feed nailing their workouts and hitting peak mileage, but I can bring myself back to my reality and be happy for the training success other’s are having.
I’m doing what’s right for my body. It would be awesome if my body would let me run 60 miles with tough tempo and speed workouts without any niggles or aches or pains. But we’re all different!
My body is not bio-mechanically perfect. I will never be an elite runner. My identity is not tied to my running (as much as it can feel that way near race day!)
If I never run again, it will all be okay. But thankfully I know I have many miles and races ahead of me, as soon as my body gives me the green light to keep pushing hard!
Have you had to make the hard decision whether to run through an ache or pain or push through your training?
If you’ve been injured, did you find it got easier going forward to listen to your body and back off when you needed to?