Written by Lee Grantham
How To Deal With A Running Injury
Injuries can be a runner’s nightmare, there is nothing worse than having planned all your training leading up to a race and then be forced to switch to ‘Plan B’ because of an injury. Runners can be very stubborn and half the time, if it hurts a little bit we’ll just run through it and hope the pain goes away this is often not the best approach.
That pain you’re feeling is your body trying to tell you something. The pain obviously means something is not right, and you know this – but a part of you wants to keep running. It is always better to have a couple of easy days, sort out what is causing the slight discomfort, then to make it worse and all of a sudden you’re facing 3 weeks off. I don’t know too many runners that feel 100% all the time, but this is just tiredness from training, it is not an injury problem. Training is going to be hard, if it wasn’t then there isn’t much point doing it! So it’s important not to perceive tired legs as an injury – that is just the training effect, and you’ll be fine with a couple of days easy running/rest.
The most common injury I have had is a tight calf turning into a torn calf. Sure, the tightness was bearable and I could run, but was it a good idea? Probably not. A simple solution would have been to get a massage, lots of stretching, and then it probably wouldn’t have torn. The tightness comes from racing or training on a track in lightweight shoes that do not have the same cushioning in the heel area. This means when I’m running my calf is stretching more than it usually would. Being able to recognise why this is happening and taking measures to prevent it means that I reduce the number of times I get injured. This is the reason I do a lot of work in the gym now to prevent injuries like that from occurring.
In the gym I am not there to get massive, sure I do weights, but these weights are for injury prevention. Making sure I am strong enough to put my body through the 100s of miles I am running each month. Given the high mileage and intensity of training for the marathon this is very important.
If you know you are weak in a certain area, consult a physio or a strength & conditioning professional and get a second opinion. There are services available that will do a full body analysis and provide you with very detailed information on any imbalances and weaknesses you might have. A lot of the time you’ll find simple exercises at home using just bodyweight, without the need for a gym will keep those nagging injuries away. Something as simple as a slight imbalance in your hip might then cause issues down the chain and cause pain in the knee, calf and foot.
If you find you do a lot of running (especially in the winter) on the roads be mindful that this is going to put a greater strain and impact through the legs. Having a decent pair of running shoes can really make a difference, the number of times I have seen people out running with completely worn out shoes is unbelievable. These shoes are not going to give you the protection you need from pounding the streets! When you can, find some softer surfaces to run on even if it’s for part of your run, your legs will thank you for it.
The best piece of advice I can give is to stop as soon as you feel pain, and don’t run again until you have seen a physio to diagnose what the issue is. Simple things like rolling your muscles out on a foam roller, and making sure you’re hydrated before doing hard training sessions will also increase your chances of not getting injured.