Dealing With Injury

There are some DC Running Coach runners dealing with nagging injuries, but almost no major setbacks.  Certainly, preventive medicine is the best medicine, like strength training and a strong off-season dedicated to correcting problem areas.  If an injury does set in, my goal is to take a conservative approach so that it doesn't linger.  I don't believe in training "tough", I want to train smart.  Taking 1 - 4 weeks off from running is sometimes what is needed. It's a short-term loss for a long-term gain.  In the grand scheme of things, that short time frame of not running is so minimal compared to the great things you'll accomplish once you're back running consistently at 100%.  However, I must say that the mentality of "losing fitness" during a 1-4 week layoff isn't warranted.  The Olympians might "lose fitness" in such a short time frame.  Why?  Because they are the pinnacle of human fitness.  The ceiling effect offers the teaching point here.  We are not Olympians, so you have to abandon the "losing fitness" mentality, it isn't warranted and it will only do harm to your psyche.  

There is much more to write about on this topic, but I'll keep it focused.  

Aqua-running is your best alternative when you're not cleared to run.  The research shows it's better than other modes of cross-training in terms of keeping your run fitness up, but aqua-running has to be done as intervals, or high-intensity, not jogging in the water.  And I'm typically referring to deep-water running, not in the shallow end of the pool, although the latter is permissible depending on the nature of the injury. This is something else the research tells us.  The other main variable that must be considered with pool running is that the mechanics need to resemble running, not a high-knee (up-down) action.  Otherwise, the muscular system isn't trained the same way and the carryover effects are lost. 

Having been coaching with DCRC since 2006, I would say that 25% of injuries are non-running related (bike accidents, softball game, etc), 25% are new injuries stemming from some underlying muscular or neuromuscular issue, and 50% are recurring injuries. Hence, my strong plug for physical therapy, strength training and embracing recovery periods during training, no matter how long they have to be.  If you're in this game for the long haul, then it's easier to embrace this holistic approach to training. Take care of your bodies.  If the problem area "feels better," that is different than it being 100%.  Be sure to respect the difference.  You know your bodies better than I do, but I offer more emotional un-attachment than you regarding your training. So, consistent dialogue between athlete and coach is key in keeping the balance between what you know about yourself and what I know about yourself. :)  I also am empathetic (not just sympathetic) to anyone who has to miss enjoyable run workouts.

Train hard (and smart)!