What I’ve Learned Whilst Injured

Monday 28th October 2013

This is the first thing I’ve posted on this site for 2 months. The reason for this is that there’s been nothing to write about. At the end of August I felt pain in my foot towards the end of a session. Since then I’ve taken time off to allow my foot to heal. Whilst I haven’t been doing much running I’ve certainly had plenty of time to think about it. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. I need to stretch more.

Shortly after I first had pain in my foot I went to the physio for advice. It’s fair to say that he was shocked by the stiffness in my calves and my lack of flexibility in general. In the past it has caused me other problems, most notably in my knee and my plantar fascia, and stretching has always been something I’ve done when I get pain or discomfort. I need to think about prevention rather than cure;  hopefully, incorporating proper pre- and post run stretching into my daily routine will prevent serious injuries.

2. You can’t beat running.

You really can’t. I’ve joined the gym recently. It is great for keeping my aerobic fitness up whilst I can’t run and I also like having access to more equipment and space than I have at  home for doing strength and conditioning exercises. But it’s not the same. It’s enough to keep me from going insane but not enough to give me the feeling of total relaxation and calm that running gives me.

3. It’s not just about competition.

I’m often asked why I run. Most people, thinking back to being forced to run against their will as a child, or to punitive weight loss regimes as an adult, would view it as a chore to run and can’t understand why I would do it voluntarily every day. My usual response is that I enjoy competition and that I derive huge satisfaction from the feeling of self-improvement. But I think there’s more to it than this.

Firstly, running can calm me down in a way that I never really appreciated before. I often get home from work feeling anxious and tense and then just go and run it out of my system. As I just mentioned, other forms of exercise just don’t seem to have the same effect. Perhaps I need to readjust my thinking to convince myself that it is not the simple act of running that is satisfying but the feeling of getting my heart rate up, the feeling of being in good physical condition. In other words, feelings that I can get from acts other than running. Maybe this ‘running is everything’ attitude is what gives me my competitive instinct and to lose it would be to lose my desire to improve. I’m probably over thinking this.

Secondly, running is a big part of my social life. Or rather, running is my social life. It’s how I see my friends. Yes, I know I can do normal things with my friends like go to the pub, and I do, but running friendships are based on other things: the sense of working together to achieve your goals, the sense of camaraderie of being part of a training group, being part of a club. I know lots of good people through running and I want to be able to run with them again.

4. Don’t rush the recovery

Just when I thought I was fully healed a couple of weeks ago the pain returned. I think this tells me that I need to build up my training even more slowly than I first thought.

5. I’d do it all again.

There are some things I will change when I’m back to full training again, such as the stretching and the strength work, as well as running on the road as little as possible, but I’m not going to be making any changes to the running I do. It works for me and gets me in good shape. When I got injured I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in and had the injury struck a couple of weeks later I’d also be writing here about the huge chunks I’d taken off my 10k and half marathon times. It works for me. I just need to take slightly better care of myself.

Now with any luck, the next post to appear here will be about my triumphant return to fitness and to competition, and not another introspective injury update.

Fingers crossed.

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