I am afraid this is going to be my second injury related blog is a row (it is now nearly three months since I went for a run…) I will get better and I will get back to running but, predictably, the length of time out is very frustrating! I therefore decided it would be worthwhile to write a blog about why I think I got injured and why my injury has gone on so long. If my thoughts help someone else avoid a long and frustrating injury then great!
First, and I have to admit I was silly here, it is important to take note of niggles. Every runner gets niggles and aches while training, however when you begin to get precisely the same pain every time you run and it persists after running it is probably worth looking at. In my case I began to get a pain in my leg but just ignored it and assumed it would go away. Even when I was limping slightly after runs I assumed it was just tight muscles and if I stretched more it would be OK. It turns out it was tight muscles but that they had begun to ‘stick’ to the bone and that was what was producing the pain. I am now stretching, foam rolling and massaging every day in an attempt to loosen of my muscles which remain very tight three months in. Even once a physio told me it might be stress fracture (this still hasn’t been totally ruled out) I continued to run. I was in a slightly exceptional situation given Varsity cross country was only a couple of weeks away (and if I had my time again I would still chose to race Varsity) but in a normal situation it had become clear I should take a break. In reality I should have stopped running about a month before I did and I am sure that keeping on running on an injury was a factor that led to this prolonged break.
In fact, I think the failure to stop earlier may have deeper roots within my injury. Everyone needs a week or two off at some point to recharge and recover. My idea of a summer break was to climb Kilimanjaro and when I got back from my ‘break’ I went straight back into training. To be frank this was just stupid! Furthermore, once I finally allowed my injury to force me to stop running my idea of a rest was to substitute a 60 minute run with a 60 minute walk. This did put less pressure on my leg but was still not the rest I am sure the physio had in mind. As you can probably tell, I love exercise and fresh air but, over the past three months, I have gradually scaled down my activity levels to the lowest level I can remember them being. I am probably still doing more than is advisable but since I replaced lengthy walks and cross training in the gym with a bit of swimming and aqua jogging I think my leg has started to recover.
Other factors in my injury have been suggested as being a weak core and weak gluts. This is probably accurate given, until three months ago, I had never done a proper core workout in my life. I am now doing them twice a week in the hope that this will help prevent a recurrence of injury once I am running again. My injury also came soon after I switched to wearing flats for intervals in training. Clearly this is something many people do but up until that point I have done all of my runs in trainers and I was now doing about 40% of my running in flats which give less support. I feel that has to have been a contributing factor. Furthermore, various blood tests have also shown I am deficient in calcium, which helps explain why my bones feel so sore, vitamin D and iron. While I general try and avoid medicating or supplementing away a problem I have started taking some multi-vitamins in an attempt to sort out these deficiencies.
While I will never say I am glad to have been injured, having such a long break from running has taught me many valuable things. Primarily it has reinforced within me how much I love running – I don’t care at the moment how fast I am going, I just want to run! When I am back running (I pray this will be soon!) I will be a wiser runner and hopefully more able to avoid serious injuries like this in the future.
I hope to get back to you with better news next time!