All runners have little complaints that may flare up now and then, or areas that may ache for a few minutes on a run every now and then, but most injuries are to a greater or lesser extent, avoidable. If you have a recurring injury, here what you should do.
Accept that there’s an issue to resolve. Forget treating just the symptom of pain, and focus on finding the root cause and fixing it (I’ve addressed the symptoms focussed approach in a previous blog post). Find a physiotherapist or osteopath who can help diagnose and begin treatment on the reason behind the pain.
Don’t make the same mistakes
If you’re someone who trains inconsistently, and it may be hard to admit if you do, then you’re far more likely to sustain injuries. It isn’t bad luck, it’s bad training. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s true. Going from 1-2 runs per week to running 3 days in a row straight away is something you can’t expect your body to just handle. Adaptation is part of the longer-term process but build it up steadily.
The same applies to marathon runners. If you’ve been training less consistently between races, take a few weeks ahead of the 3-4 month marathon training block to build a few extra miles into your week. I’ve coached several people who have typically dropped mileage significantly after previous marathons. You need the recovery probably which is fine, but if you let your training load drop too low for the next 3 months before training for your next marathon, you’ll have lost a lot of what you gained.
Widen the scope of your training
If you currently don’t do much or any strength training, foam rolling, flexibility/mobility work, balance or technique drills, or look at your nutrition and sleep, these are areas to delve into. You don’t have to overhaul your entire lifestyle but adding an extra dimension to the training you do can prove pivotal in preventing injury. Here, the help of a professional (physio, osteo, personal trainer or running coach) will help to guide you most appropriately.
Give in or choose not to
Ultimately you have two choices. Don’t change anything and stop wondering why injuries keep coming back or commit to changing something and measuring how it influences your results.
Either is absolutely fine and nobody can tell you which you SHOULD do, but don’t be the person on Facebook or Strava who complains about the same old injury coming back if you’re not willing to do something about it. If you work on fixing it properly and it still comes back, you can absolutely be frustrated and want to throw in the towel. Give it a go first though. I did back in 2016. I applied what I’d learnt, committed to working on the problems that had caused all the knee and hip issues that plagued me during my late teens and early twenties. Back then it meant I couldn’t string together more than 2 weeks of training before I was in pain, and 6 weeks before needing to stop. Now I run around 3 times as many miles per week with no issues. If I can do it then you can too.
Now… let’s get those injuries gone.
Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk