Now that i’m back running again, I think it’s more than due time to bring back the My First Time series, in which I embrace my noob status and share what I’ve learnt on my running journey. I took a break from the series due to an injury stint; as this was my very first, it seems only fitting to share what I’ve learnt.
For some context, you may want to check out my previous injury post. TLDR: had severe foot pain, ignored for 6 weeks, woke up one morning unable to walk, admitted defeat.
I was off with injury for nine weeks, which to be honest seemed like the longest nine weeks of my life to date. The first two weeks were particularly horrific as I wasn’t allowed to do any form of cross-training except gentle yoga, and even had to keep walking to a minimum. I was climbing the walls by the end of this period and overjoyed when I was finally given the go-ahead to use the stationary bike and elliptical, two machines I’d hated previously. (Funny how that happens!) Finally, after many a plea from my Sports Massage Therapist, I gave swimming a go. At first I sucked, but gradually I got better. I may even make a triathlete one day.
Seven weeks into my injury I saw a physiotherapist, who was my knight in shining armour. He gave me a thorough once over, prescribed two weeks worth of squatting and stretching, and had me back running after that. When he told me I could run again I swear I could have kissed him- I didn’t even know my face could grin so hard.
And then, after a few day’s worth of nervous procrastination (largely motivated by fear of doing more damage), I got out there for a short, sweet and very slow twenty minute run around the local park. My god. I was so happy! And the rest (we hope) is history…
What I learned from my first serious injury; what I wish I’d known:
- Be honest with yourself and listen to your body. I wish I’d admitted earlier on that there was something wrong, and gotten help immediately- I’m sure I could have drastically reduced my recovery time.
- This is always going to suck. 100 percent. If you’re a runner, even if you’re not a serious one, you’ll miss running. And if you’re like me, and use running as a way to blow off steam, injury will be even trickier. I don’t really have any advice for this really- just moan at anyone who’ll listen!
- Knowledge is power. Know the enemy, as they say. Whatever it is that’s hurting, find out everything you can about it. I never went to a doctor for a formal diagnosis as my symptoms were textbook PF, but I spent a good 3-4 hours researching the condition. I now consider myself a walking encyclopaedia!
- Seek professional advice. Despite what I literally just said, there comes a time when you need to see a professional. You can’t trust everything you read on the internet, plus there are often conflicting schools of thought on the treatment of specific injury.
- Find what works for you. The conventional wisdom on PF is ice, ice and more ice. Whilst cold therapies did seem to have a small positive effect on me, I found my muscles actually responded far better to (very) hot baths, and so these became my go-to pain relief. If it feels good, don’t question it!
- Find an alternative. For me, giving up exercise altogether was out of the question. In those first few weeks I lived and breathed hot yoga. But then as I got over the worst of it, swimming and cycling were both great options for me. Now I incorporate at least one bike and swim session each into a week’s training- I think they’ve made me a much more rounded athlete.
- Find a positive. For me that was not only swim and bike training (I helped found a Triathlete Group at my Athletics Club), but strength training. Whilst I have long adored female bodybuilders and powerlifters such as Josie Mai, Chelsea Karabin and Jazmine Garcia, it seemed my progress in lifting came at the expense of running, and vice versa. However with no running in the picture I had the opportunity to make the strength gains I’ve been after for a while now. #bootygainz
- One last thing: running’s gonna suck at first. My first post-injury run was kind of a struggle. For the first ten minutes I was thinking Is this really something I enjoy!? -and even when that passed, my miles haven’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s okay! I’m just glad to be back out there.
Have you ever been sidelined by an injury? What would be your top tip for recovery?
Lots of love,