How to Deal with Illness and Injury as a Runner
Sep 26, 2017
My relationship with running, for the past few months has been difficult, to say the least. Frustration has ruled the day, and, as with other relationships, frustration usually calls for some patience and listening. So, that's what I have done. It hasn't been easy and sometimes it's been downright hard, BUT this is not a relationship I am willing to give up.
My frustrations began when I did not recover as quickly from my last marathon as I wanted. They continued when a persistent ache and pain wanted to hang on, rather than quiet down or move on to someone else. After the pain finally started to decrease significantly, and I felt like I was on my way back, sickness reared its ugly head. I recovered from that one, only to be slapped with those pesky allergy/sinus symptoms. Ugh! What's a girl to do?
What do you do when you meet obstacle after obstacle and are not able to train properly?
I'll tell you what NOT to do. What you DON'T do is quit!
The key is to just keep going. Continue to move forward. Just remember, moving forward does not necessarily mean you should continue to run. You might need to take a break. You might need to cross train. Either way, as you do, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. If you are sidelined or slowed down by an ache or pain (or you are feeling an ache/pain and are still running), pay attention to it! Take a couple of days to RICE (rest, ice compress, elevate). See your doctor or your physical therapist if the pain persists, is a 7 or above on a scale of 1 - 10 or if it has been nagging you for a while. If you are feeling some aches and pains and don't know whether to sit it out or push through, it's time to do some investigating.
2. If you are sick, again, pay attention! Depending on the ailment, you might need rest or medical attention. Not taking proper care of yourself can prolong your absence from running. Also, if you are sick and are taking medication, be sure to check on the side effects of the medications. Some antibiotics can have unpleasant side effects when mixed with running.
3. Train SMARTER. not harder. Be sure that you are balanced in your training and that your goals are realistic. Find a plan that works for you at your level. Be consistent and do all of those things we are all encouraged to do to remain healthy - stretch, cross train, eat well, hydrate and rest. Strive for balance.
4. Relax and rest when you need to, so that you live to run another day. It is difficult to scale back or sit out, but sometimes it is the best thing we can do to increase our running longevity. Think long term, not short.
Life happens to everyone. None of the things that have happened these past few months are unique to me. These things happen to all of us at one time or another. When they do, it is all too easy to become discouraged. Don't give in to the negativity, just see it as a season to rest or do something else that will compliment your running, like yoga. Give your body time to heal and get back out there when it's time - not before.
Because I plan to run for as long as I possibly can, I have taken some time off, concentrated on stretching and strengthening through yoga and revised my race plans for this fall. Next stop, Cottonland 1/2 Marathon in November! (I hope.)
Keeping it real,
Turning couch potatoes into marathoners since 2004.