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Managing an injury

We are delighted to host a guest blog post by our run leader Rose who has shared her honest reflections on being injured.

I am a runner. You’re probably a runner too if you’re reading this. You’re definitely a runner if you’ve been to runtheworldMCR. But what happens when you’re injured? What do you do? How do you recover? What happens if you have a race? Are you still a runner? Do you even have an identity without running? (This last one might just be me…perhaps I need to reconsider my relationship with running).

Earlier this month, I should have been taking part in a race that I’d training for, for six months and it would have been the biggest challenge I’d taken on. In June, I noticed something wasn’t quite right with my knee. I ignored it for a bit, doggedly sticking to my training plan (not to be recommended), eventually reaching a point where it could no longer be ignored and I then sought help from a physio. I did my exercises, KT taped my knee, took a two week break from running, replacing the sessions with other types of exercise (swimming, cycling etc). This helped quite a lot and I was momentarily optimistic but the return to running also brought a return to the pain and ultimately, I had to withdraw from the race.

I was absolutely (ridiculously!) gutted. I felt like all my training had been for nothing and that I’d failed, having not even made it to the start line. I wallowed in some self-pity and melodramatic responses of ‘I’ll never be able to run again’. Running is a big part of my life, it’s where I find some peace, where I see friends, spend time outside and get myself home from work. Not being able to get out felt horrible and it seemed like every time I left the house or went on social media, there was everyone having a great time running!

So far, so maudlin. But I think it’s important to take that time to feel a bit rubbish, to be sad that a race did go ahead and to be annoyed with the injury. But in the longer term, that didn’t seem like a sustainable response! Not wanting to lose all my fitness, I thought I’d better make a new exercise plan. I picked up more strength training, started cycling to work and swimming (in the gym, not a swim commute up the Irwell). Fortunately, I could still run a bit but having cut down so much, I remembered how much I enjoyed the gym and other sports. Not training for anything gave me more freedom than I had had for some time and I set new challenges like lifting heavier weights or trying to cycle to work faster (and just not get run over on Monton Road). Reflecting on my running in recent years made me realise that at times it’s been too much and to the detriment of other things, I’d been so tired, possibly overtraining and hadn’t had a proper break for a long time.

I haven’t given up on the challenge, it’s deferred for now, but the enforced break has given me a chance to think about training differently. So if you’re injured, try to see it as a new opportunity to consider what you do – can you have more balance with other types of exercise? And the added bonus there is that will contribute towards injury prevention in the future. What about races? Races will usually have an option to defer, to transfer to someone else who might want the place or to get credits to enter another race by the same company – check out the deferral policy, get in touch with the race organiser to find out. And what about your identity? An injured runner is still a runner and perhaps there are other ways to define yourself (I’m still working on this one!).

Tips for managing injury:

  • Don’t ignore the injury and get some professional advice with it. There is a lot of advice out there – like everything, it’s mixed and not all of it evidence based. Listen to and look after your body.

  • Speak to other runners – they will allow you to talk about what a terrible thing it is to be injured. And allow yourself a bit of time to feel rubbish. It is rubbish being injured and it’s ok to feel a bit sorry for yourself before moving on.

  • If you are able to – do other types of exercise – swimming, cycling, strength training, yoga (and incorporating these will help with injury prevention too).

  • Take time to do other things – read, see friends and get some things done that get side-lined when you’re following a big training plan.

  • The race is only the victory lap in a training cycle. Even if you don’t complete it, you still will have made plenty of gains from all your training.

  • If you can still run, go to runtheworldMCR. If you can’t run, there is always walktheworld. Being around all the amazing, enthusiastic women is uplifting and motivational.


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