That dreaded word all athletes hate and try to ignore. Well how can you avoid this?
Your half way through your program and you have felt something odd in your leg but ignore it and it gets worse until it’s a major problem…sound familiar? We runners like to ignore pains and just try to carry on. Of course it is hard to know the difference between a niggle and an injury and this is so important working out what you have.
A niggle is defined as “something that causes a slight but persistent annoyance or discomfort”. Lots of us run with niggles all the time and they go away with easy training or rest.
An injury is defined as “something that can stop you doing your activities and cause you to be in pain”.
The problem is with an injury is that people are stubborn and will not learn from their mistakes. Most of the time an injury occurs because you have over trained and made it worse. I always use three key elements when accessing my injury and how it developed:
Need to look into why this happened which can be tricky. Did I overdo it after a race? Was I feeling tired before training? Did I get enough sleep and rest? Have I trained too hard? These can be some elements that can result into an injury. It is important to find out what has gone wrong and how to prevent it. Last year I got injured in April and my calf went. I looked into why this happened and the main reason is because I had my family and cousins down for the weekend where I had two beers throughout the course of the day. Now that isn’t much and I don’t normally drink; in fact I haven’t since last April, as I don’t like the taste. Although the beers didn’t affect me, the problem I had is that any alcohol keeps me up all night. So that night I didn’t sleep at all and the following morning when I went for a long run, my calf was acting strange at the end and the following day it wasn’t right. I did a speed session a few days later and that’s what triggered the calf injury. So the moral of this story is learn from your body and mistakes.
A lot of injuries occur in new athletes starting their training or have not been training for long. This is because they have over trained and gone out too hard. Just remember you don’t need to go out hard every session, slow running also makes you faster; you can read my previous BLOG HERE. Making sure you are not over training is so important. It is key that you have a structured training plan where you have a set period and then a recovery week. I work off a 6-8 week plan with the 7th or 9th week as an easy recovery week. So by the end of my plan I would be at the highest point of mileage and then my recovery week I will strip that back down by a lot and my speed reps too. This is important as no one can expect to peak too many times in a year.
You must evaluate your training and look at how to prevent the injuries. Learning from mistakes is the key. Most of the time you get injured from doing to much and an error from your part. It is ok to take off a day or a few days to rest. Strength training is important in your training; if you do this correctly, you are more likely to stay injury free and you do get stronger. This is an area where most people go wrong and neglect. I hear it all the time with people, saying things like “I run everyday so my legs are strong”. Well it doesn’t work like that. If you haven’t done any strength training then your body is weak. By strengthening your body, you will be stronger and therefore less likely to get injured, plus the added benefit of going faster.
If you need to rest, rest up, if you are felling tired, don’t train. It is ok to rest – in fact that is where you make all the gains. So a day’s rest a week will do you so much good.
If you have pain then it is likely you have done too much – if it hurts after a day and does not get any better, then you have done too much. Back off a bit and learn from your mistakes to stay injury free.