There is no need to feel helpless if you find yourself sidelined from running injuries. Despite what you may be feeling, there are some things you can do immediately that will be effective in helping bounce back and feel like your sprightly self again.
For any runner who is injured, or may feel like they are flirting with an injury, these are our three recommendations to implement right away:
Sleep is crucial. Sleep is where we heal. Sleep is something we should all look forward to yet most of us are grossly under volume. Sleep is not something that we should treat ourselves to. It shouldn’t be a bonus. It should be the norm!
I won’t bore you with all of the studies and data that show the risk of injuries with fewer hours of sleep. And I certainly won’t tell you about the higher mortality rate with fewer hours of sleep. But I hope I have your attention.
If you find yourself dealing with some sort of physical ailment, a bit of fatigue/overtraining, or even dealing with a full-blown injury then you’re going to want to prioritize sleep. And not just your regular sleep, but more sleep. Improving the overall quality and quantity of rest will greatly accelerate your recovery and improve your physical status. One simple trick is to add 30 extra minutes per night. Ideally, you’d be able to sneak in some more sleep and an hour should be non-negotiable, but given the pushback when talking with people, I find 30 minutes is less of a discussion.
You should also ditch your screens before bed. Don’t scroll through social media or watch videos. If you can avoid any phone, computer, or TV screens then you’ll be more likely to get more deep sleep cycles for the night. This greatly improves the overall quality of rest and that is crucial for recovery.
Nutrition is another pillar of health. We truly love working with individuals who prioritize their physical health. One hurdle for these individuals arises when they are so strict with their intake and energy expenditure. One common trait I’ve noticed over the years is that runners who are injured will consume less. Their rationale is that they are not training and so they need less or don’t want to gain excess. While that line of thinking may be appropriate under normal circumstances, it could be a hindrance when dealing with an injury. Your body needs calories to heal. You want to ensure you are not putting yourself in a caloric deficit when your body would actually benefit from having some extra beneficial calories. And despite what you may read about me, I won’t tell you just to eat pizza. Make good choices!
Lastly, when it comes to dealing with an injury, it’s good practice to be a bit self-reflective. The term “check tape” refers to watching previous game film so coaches or players can analyze and learn. Rarely do injuries happen for no reason. The majority of the time we are able to analyze a runner’s training history or life status to hone in on problem areas. We discuss stress, sleep, nutrition, training plans, and strength programming. Each of these is important in the hierarchy of running health. My suggestion is to have a good objective look at what happened before and during your injury or training struggles to see if it was a life management issue or a load management issue.
We never want our clients to feel as if they’re helpless in the process. There are certainly steps you can take to help while we work our magic on the backend. Ultimately, you want to make sure you have good sources of healthy foods to look over your training plans and complement all of that extra sleep you’re getting.