Running injuries stink. Plain and simple. You trained hard, worked hard and BOOM. Your out and those race plans are in jeopardy.
You curse yourself for not doing this and that. You tell yourself that “If I had only not done this” or “If I had only done more core work”. You go through all the stages of sadness. You try to reconcile with yourself.
In the end, you start planning a running comeback in your head. You start researching what went wrong. What you can do better and what you did wrong. We have all been there. The endless hours looking at forums, trying to relate to others in the injury and figure out what they did.
If you are looking for the ultimate running comeback list – I have compiled one below. Bookmark it. You never know when it could come in handy for you or someone else.
Let us begin.
You got the green light to start running. Now what? Go out for a 6 mile run? Of course not. Unless you want to be injured again. Do not rush the process because patience will pay off. You do not want to re-injure yourself and be back to the beginning.
Gradually increase running time, preferably on soft ground, while supplementing with cross-training exercises such as cycling, swimming and pool running.
Run At Your Own Pace
Sometimes when we come back we are anxious to keep up with our running buddies. Don’t fall for this trap. If your running buddies are going faster than you are comfortable, don’t feel pressured. You will get there. If you have to drop back take your time…be patient.
Embrace Physical Therapy Before, During and After Comeback
Physical therapy is crucial in the running comeback process. You need to correct the underlying problem and PT can help with that. Plus, it does amazing benefits for an athlete’s mind because it makes them feel like they are being proactive in injury prevention and recovery.
Don’t slack on doing those PT exercises after your comeback either. Keep it up!
A great book that I reference all the time, as does my husband, when it comes to doing strength work is: Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention
Avoid Hills and Speed Work
At the beginning of a comeback – you want to pick up where you left off. But, avoid this trap. Engage in just easy running while avoiding speed work and hills as these two activities put a great deal of extra strain and force on the body. This goes for up and down hills. Try to stay on soft ground during this time.
Don’t Compare Your New Self to Your Old Self
During your running comeback, try to avoid self-doubt thinking by comparing yourself to what you were before your lay-off from running. This will lead to frustration and annoyance which can possibly hinder your comeback.
Think happy thoughts and enjoy the moment.
Embrace Cross Training During Your Comeback
I know, I know – nothing replaces running. You don’t get that same feeling as when you go out for a run. But, trust me. You will kick yourself later if you don’t do the cross-training…as will your lungs and body.
Find which cross-training method you are able to do and can manage – embrace it. Look up workouts and do them. These will only serve to maintain fitness and keep you sane. If you are looking for a TON of different cross training methods then check out Sweet Life Erica’s 12 Ideas for Runners or Hungry Runner Girl’s A Review of Every Type of Crosstraining She Has Done
Plus, one extra benefit to cross-training during a comeback is that it can speed up healing by increasing blood flow. Blood flow is essential in many running related injuries such as stress fractures and soft-tissue injuries.
Track Your Running Comeback and Set Goals
Seeing a physical layout of your comeback can help you visualize where you came from and what you are able to do now. It is easy to compare yourself to before an injury but being able to see that you were only running 2 miles last week but 10-15 miles this week…that is progress.
Set goals for yourself. It can serve as mini-rewards for your mind by accomplishing these mini goals during your comeback. Will serve as positive motivation for you. A great tracking log is actually put out by Runner’s World: The Complete Runner’s Day-By-Day Log 2014 Calendar OR if you like to track stuff online then give TrainingPeaks a try.
Prioritize Your Running
Life has a way of throwing barriers in the way. Schedule your running times and stick to it. If a scheduling change has to be made – make it but try to avoid making excuses. Resist that temptation to skip a run.
I will repeat…patience. Some injuries are finicky and can come and go. Just be patient and don’t push your body through something it does not want to do. You know your body. Trust it.
Trust and believe you will come back.
Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements + Nutrition
Nutrition and all the other supplementary things matter. Believe me. I have seen it work miracles in regards to healing times…especially on my husband. My husband is the king of supplements and I have seen him heal his various injuries in unbelievable times.
I won’t lecture you on the proper nutrition but we all know the basics. Get enough protein and don’t forget healthy fats. A great book not only on nutrition but also racing weight in regards to peak performance comes from Matt Fitzgerald…a super fast runner as well himself! If you want to check out his book – Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance (The Racing Weight Series)
Consider Alternative Methods and Supplements
Everyone wants a leg up when it comes to injury recovery and their own comeback. Consider the alternative therapies such as acupuncture, prolotherapy, TENS units, ultrasound and cold laser therapy to name a few. These are all ‘extra’ things you can be doing to optimize your running comeback.
While sometimes supplements don’t have the finite research behind their healing powers – many do have small research studies or anecdotal stories. If you are looking for alternative ways – look into supplements that can help with your injury recovery process.
Be Hyperaware of Your Injury
It is import to be aware of your injury ‘area’. This allows you to have a continual reminder of what happened and will caution you when you try to push the envelope. Plus, you want to notice any sign of the injury returning. It is OK to be hyperaware of your injury area.
“Ghost” Pains WILL Happen During Your Running Comeback
Accept it. Recognize it and be able to tell the difference between a “Ghost Pain” (also called “phantom pains”) in your injury area. These pains are not true pains but rather a combination of inactivity, scar tissue, and nerve irritations typically.
Ghost pains are annoying but they make you pay attention. Accept that they are there and make sure you pay attention to the difference between these “false” pains and real pain.
Keep Stress Levels Down
I know its hard. Stresses are everywhere in life but trying to minimize your stress level during your comeback will help you maintain positivity and also decrease cortisol levels! Increased cortisol levels has been shown to delay healing.
Check Out This Article on The Effects of Stress and Cortisol on Healing.
The Amazingness of Muscle Memory
Your muscle memory from all that pounding it out on the roads and millions upon millions of steps is still there. You may feel like someone beat your legs with a club at the end of those first few runs but be confident…it will come back. Stick it out and you will be blazin’ up the track in no time.
Be Positive and Stay Upbeat
Positivity is important in your comeback. I know you want to bang your head against the wall somedays having to ride a bike or pool run when all you want to do is just run. But, keeping a positive perspective will have you excited for each positive step you make in your running comeback journey.
The key to your running comeback is you…your choices, your perspective and how you handle it. Everybody is different. But, your in the driver’s seat to whether your comeback is a positive and progressive comeback or one filled with frustration. How will you handle your own running comeback?
Have you ever had to come back from injury?
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