How to deal with a running injury (part 1)

It sucks. No nice way of putting it. But here are my tips and tricks for the long journey through being injury and recovery from a fairly significant running-induced injury (I’m talking a good 3-6 months out and prevention of other daily activities).

PS DON’T ACTUALLY TAKE MY ADVICE. I’m not a clever person, I have nearly learnt my lessons so please don’t start going off on one about how irresponsible I am being. I know you should rest when you think something is wrong. I am just very very bad at it. Like most runners. Go and see someone about it. Ice it, ibuprofen it, but you know your body. Don’t run through what you shouldn’t blah blah etc etc you probably won’t listen to me anyway….

1. Do a heavy 14 x 400 session, have really sore legs and then realise walking hurts more than normal. Get on with your life, keep trying to run until you literally cannot go anywhere. Take two weeks off.

2. When you start again, think it is all fine and dandy and throw yourself back into training. Come second in a 5k and think you are fabulous. When it starts to niggle, pretend it doesn’t exist. Take copious amounts of ibuprofen (diclofenac if you are feeling really hardcore) and keep doing your long runs until you have to stop and get your mum to pick you up, crying, from a road in the middle of nowhere. Then be unable to walk down stairs for a while.

3. Minimalise what it really is. Similar to Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knight is missing both arms and ‘it’s only a flesh wound’. (I’m sniggering to myself as I write this…)

4. Prepare for an arduous discussion with your doctor about the fact that you should run less and ‘just rest up for a few weeks and see how it goes’

5. Go and see another doctor when you don’t believe the first one. Debate ringing up every doctor you vaguely know.

6. Find a FABULOUS physio (I recommend Six in Fulham) who will cause you lots of pain, stab needles in you at 7.30am (that is one way to wake you up) and spend a long time on a weekly basis with different coloured therabands. Resort to getting the bus everywhere, have an excuse to take the lift at work, stand on the escalator and demand that people wait on you hand and foot because ‘you shouldn’t be putting any weight on your leg’.

7. Wish you had been given an airboot to make it look more injured. Rely instead on K-tape to be a talking point. Purposefully wear outfits out that mean your K-tape can be seen. Hop down stairs. Get sympathy from strangers.

8. (this and #6 come hand in hand) See a sports medicine specialist who has a pretty good idea that if he tells you ‘don’t do anything at all’, you will anyway, so lets you go cycling. Have an MRI scan done and wait patiently, staring at the phone every two minutes for the results.

9. Cry when you can’t go skiing. Tell your doctor you are supposed to be going again in 3 weeks time and can he please make sure you can go then. Go skiing. Get a sore leg. Take frequent hot chocolate breaks to rest. Pretend that vin chaud is excellent for increasing the blood flow to your legs. Likewise that the calcium in chocolate will heal your bone faster.

10. Insist on telling every single person a very long story about your injury and feel secretly proud of it. Just because you’re not wearing crutches, doesn’t mean you’re not hardcore. Use it as an excuse to stop dancing on nights out and wear flat shoes for months. Put it as your facebook status.

11. Attempt to K-tape yourself. Stick it to your hair, trousers and itself before giving up and getting the physio to do it. Have more needles stuck in you whilst you’re at it.

12. Take up bikram yoga because you can’t do anything else. Surprisingly enjoy bikram yoga. Debate taking up swimming. Realise you really hate swimming and that you will never go.

13. See how many physio sessions you can get before your insurance company go mental.

14. Have some running technique lessons. Try and remember to do all your physio exercises. Fail. Realise one of your physios (you now have 3 and are best friends with the receptionist) is one of the Ireland women’s rugby team’s most capped players. Feel in awe. Try harder at doing your physio exercises.

15. When you are finally allowed to start running, make it look really obvious that you are being forced to take walking breaks rather than being bad at running. Talk loudly to your running partner about this so that everyone else knows.

16. Cry when watching your mum and dad race. Get told by your sister that you are being bloody ridiculous. Cry more. Decide your running career is over FOREVER. Defer your London marathon place. Post it on facebook for sympathy likes. Post lots of #tbt about running.

17. Start running again. Get really paranoid about anything that hurts in the slightest. Ice every day and do your physio exercises (finally).

18. Get videoed running on a treadmill and realise you look really flipping weird.

19. START RUNNING AGAIN. Properly. Use a three week holiday to hammer up and down the Pyrenean foothills and be pleasantly surprised when you survive.

20. Tell everyone you meet (especially those that you meet through running) that you had a stress fracture last year. Bathe in their respect. Use as excuse if ever you are doing a hard track session and you want to slow down….use it for many many races to explain why you didn’t do so well.

21. Hope you are now OK. Post on facebook.

Part 2 coming soon. I will focus then on ‘injuring your rotator cuff’ i.e. being unable to put a yoghurt back in the fridge.

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