Sunday, October 20, 2013

Being A Responsible Injury Owner

Eventually, we hope to get off this depressing injury loop but for the moment…

Hello, and welcome back to two little runners injuries!! This post brought to you by

Left Ankle Sprain


So you’re injured…you’ve been through the five stages of runner’s grief…and you’ve accepted your injury fate. Now, no matter if the injury:

(a) was the result of stupid training decisions,
(b) was a freak accident,
(c) was inherited from a prior life/sport, or
(d) wasn’t your fault because your training was perfect and you shouldn’t have gotten injured (we all fall into this category, right?)

…it’s your injury now. And you have to deal with it! You are in charge of your recovery.

Here’s some advice on how to be a responsible injury owner. We want you back in your running shoes, stat!

First, get a diagnosis.

Not only will a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional give you a timetable as to when you might be recovered, it will give you an idea about what cross training, if any, you can safely do. Having a diagnosis will also help you to determine when to back off during your cross training so that you do not re-injure or further injure yourself.

For my ankle sprain, this meant learning the difference between a sharp—but mild—pain versus generalized stiffness. Sharp pain, even if minor on the pain scale (1 or 2 out of 10) meant to stop. With stiffness/achiness, it was okay to press forward on.

Second, check your priorities.

When we are training, our priority is to improve our speed and/or distance. When we are taking a break from formal training, our priority is to maintain an acceptable amount of fitness. When we are injured, our priority is to rehab our injury; we can try to maintain our fitness too, but it is secondary to rehabbing that injury. One thing that helps here is break up workouts into segments for rehab and fitness.

For me, that means doing balancing, stability, and flexibility exercises for the ankle in first part of my workout, sort of a warmup. This warmup reminds me that I am injured. And then I do my general workouts—elliptical, weights, etc.—all while keeping in mind that I am not at 100%. (And stopping if I feel any pain, see above.)

It also helps to do something new or fun as part of your cross training. In my time away from running, I’ve done spinning classes, kayaking, paddle board surfing, and tons of yoga. All things I’ve really enjoyed but probably wouldn’t have had the time for if I was running 50 miles per week.

Third, be extra conservative when you build back your running.

It seems urgent to get back to our former running form. But actually, it isn’t. Really. We have years and years and years of running ahead of us. So a couple of extra weeks building back slowly won’t matter in the scheme of our running careers. But it could set you back further.

This is what I’m working on now. I’ve run 12 miles per week for the last 3 weeks, all at very easy paces, and all on treadmill. Now I’m adding one outdoor run per week, and adding no more than 10% to my mileage on a weekly basis.

A big thank you to our sponsors…

two little runners ~Kristen


  1. Haha, like your attitude! And smart tips.

    1. Thanks, re the attitude - some days are better than others, as you know from your own experience. ;)