Training when injured

Injury is more likely during a training cycle so it’s important to have a plan that’s not too aggressive to limit the possibility of getting injured

Of course, there’s never a fail-safe way to avoid getting injured, and it may be something not directly related to your running that causes it.

My own “injuries” in the past (I use quotation marks as I’m not sure they count) have been minor and have barely stopped me from running. Invariably they were caused by tight muscles and usually originate in the calf. The first time it happened was relatively minor and I was soon able to determine what was pulling on my knee and massage it out myself. The second time was more uncomfortable and more widespread, but finding a massage therapist sorted that one out (and I’ve had monthly massages since).

Right now I’m in the middle of a marathon training cycle (a marathon I’ve already declared to be my last for many years, but which I am running for charity with no time goals) and just over 2 weeks ago I felt the pull on my knee that indicated to me that I had another muscle issue.

Given the timing, the fact that this was worse than anything I’ve had before, and that I have good insurance, I booked an appointment with a Physical Therapist. By that time I had pretty much decided that what caused this was an overenthusiastic Bodycombat session a couple of days earlier (the pain happened during my first run after that class and I had been giving the kicks everything I had).

So what did I do to keep myself active in the hope that I wouldn’t lose too much?

  1. Rowing machine – my morning routine includes going to the gym near my office, so rather than getting on the treadmill I used the rowing machine (at first the bike was also pulling on my knee but the rowing machine caused no issues)
  2. Strengthening exercises as indicated by the PT
  3. Occasional attempts at running – at first my knee would hurt half a mile into a run, so I would run half a mile, or extend it out to see how I coped. I wanted to see how quickly it recovered. As things seemed to be working themselves out through PT sessions, regular stretching and the strengthening work, recovery was better, and the distance I felt I could safely run got longer.
  4. This final exercise was the unusual one. Just a couple of months ago I had received a Halfbike which was the outcome of a Kickstarter campaign. I will write a full review of the Halfbike in my next post, but I have to say that, whether it helped or not overall, it was mentally the best thing for me. It kept me out with the running club and I was surprised at how much distance I was able to cover on it.

Clearly the type of injury and advice from doctors or PTs will make a difference to what you are able to do. I was able to isolate my injury to primarily one muscle and that helped determine what I could do. I’m happy to say that after 2 weeks I have now managed to run 4 miles pain free so hopefully I can build on that safely.

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