Listen To Your Body

young fitness woman runner stretching legs before run

Injuries often have a prodromal period.  That means a part (or parts) of your body will send you signals that things aren’t quite right.  Your sore foot, Achilles, hamstrings, or shins may not necessarily become quickly evident at first. 

You may notice it in the morning when you arise or in the beginning of your run, but then it fades and disappears as you continue.  Granted there are ‘good pains’ and ‘bad pains.  For instance, delayed onset muscle soreness is a good type of pain that is proportional to the intensity of training.  The deep muscle pain appears within a day or two of your long run and wanes with light exercise and anti-inflammatories. 

Bad types of pain present differently.  They are almost always there whether running or not and should not be run through.  This type of pain may be accompanied by certain visual changes such as swelling, redness or painful lumps, auditory changes such as pops, grinding or snapping, or sudden weakness of the ankle or foot.  These acute signals may need the evaluation of the sports physician.  Heed the warning signals carefully as a failure to do so may cause a benign problem to develop into a frank injury, ultimately ruining your chances of enjoying healthy workouts or even racing. 

Such attempts by athletes to push the envelope in an effort to prepare for a certain race often results in futility, oftentimes resulting in an injury that ruins the entire racing season.  I have seen too many runners suffering from torn fascia, tendons, and fractures because of exuberant training techniques. Much of this is brought on by enthusiastic coaches and parents.

Attend early signals (prodromes) by adjusting year speed and mileage accordingly, alter your running form as in the case of a sore Achilles or hamstring by shortening your stride, staying away from the hills and learn to roll over the ankle rather than emphasizing the push-off, especially during the early part of the run. 

Warm-up by walking at least 1/4 mile before stretching. Check to make sure your running gear is appropriate for you.  Your running shoe should be appropriate for the distance, and type of foot you have. They should be discarded after 400 miles of running, especially in Florida where the EVA of the shoe collapses quickly in the heat. 

Ice after running and use anti-inflammatories judiciously.  When feeling the prodrome skip a day or two of running and cross-train instead. You’ll find that with sports specific cross-training your technique will actually improve. Avoid training with back-to-back hard days, especially if you are over forty. When resuming your runs after injury return to running cautiously.  Be patient, don’t let feelings of guilt send you back to the war zone before you’ve recovered.  Remember that training and recovery are Siamese twins who cannot exist without each other.