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The Running Injury Trap
Most of us fall into one of two categories of runner. Those recovering from an injury. Or those afraid of suffering another injury.
For much of the past couple of decades, I’ve been both.
That affected the way I viewed running. I thought of injuries as the ‘overuse’ phenomenon that you sometimes read about.
With that way of thinking, the running injury trap is inevitable. You might not be injured now. At some point, though – it might not be today, it might not be tomorrow – at some point you will get injured.
But that was then. Over the past few years, my attitude to running has been transformed.
Let me share why.
The running injury trap
My story begins a few years back. I’d reached breaking point. And something had to give.
If you’ve ever suffered an injury, then you’ll know that it can be a rollercoaster of emotions.
For me, it would always start with denial. I’d deny that I was in pain. And then when it was brutally obvious that I was, I would deny that the pain was a problem.
Eventually, I’d move on and accept that I was injured. But then I’d have to start dealing with the frustration of no longer being a runner.
Not to mention all the unanswered questions. What was the trigger for the injury? And what could I have done to avoid it?
I’d try to pin the blame on one event, on one run, on one person (and not always me!). Ridiculous as all that seems now, looking back.
I’d then gradually emerge from my stupour. I’d get off the couch and start to do what exercise I could. But it rarely felt anything like the real thing. And the frustrations were unavoidable.
At the weekend, I would go out for a gentle cycle. But it was impossible not to notice the enjoyment of all the runners I’d see.
During the week, I’d have to walk past the runners on the gym treadmills – and try not to show how gutted I was as I made my way to the cross-training machines where normally runners wouldn’t be seen dead.
I knew this cycle like the back of my hand. But it didn’t make it any easier.
Nor did the predictability of the injuries themselves. You know the routine:
– Your running’s going well.
– You increase your mileage.
– Injury strikes.
– And you’re back to square one.
Rinse and repeat.
Highly predictable. Highly frustrating.
The turning point
By early 2008, though, I was pretty optimistic.
I’d had a decent period of injury-free running. Training had gone well. And I approached the run-up to the London Marathon with a lot of excitement.
I was in my best shape for years and a personal best looked on the cards.
Then it happened.
Two weeks before race day, injury struck. Plantar fasciitis. Two of most hated words in the English language.
The marathon was now out of the question. From earlier experience of the injury, I knew what was coming. Running in two weeks time wasn’t even a possibility.
Months of hard work and preparation were down the drain.
I’d had enough. I’d reached the point where I just couldn’t bring myself to try again. To go through the same old cycle all over again. To go through the same inevitable frustrations.
This had to be the time to finally hang up the running shoes and move on.
I was ready to give up. And I would have.
But for one – very unexpected – phone call.