This post originally appeared on health and fitness blog, Eat, Drink and Be Skinny.
As a runner with 10+ years of experience on tracks, trails and roads, I have inevitably become familiar with injuries – a twisted ankle here, runner’s knee there…and always some muscle strain and shin splints.
These issues sidelined me for only a week or two at a time, so when my doctor diagnosed me with a hip fracture and sidelined me for six months, I wasn’t sure what to do.
After four (very long) months on crutches, when I was given the green light to walk and try to run, I was both scared and excited. I had to figure out how to safely use my legs again – I had to return back to Point A.
Well, after plenty of trial and error, here are my secrets all in one Guide to Post-Injury Training.
1. Get comfortable with walking before running & only increase running by 2 minutes as your body feels comfortable.
Walk for 30 minutes without pain before any running to recondition your muscles. When you feel comfortable, start with a 10-minute jog. Gradually increase by 2 minutes (or the distance by 10%) weekly as comfortable.Note: if you feel any pain at the site of injury, stop and rest!
2. Don’t overmedicate.
Don’t mask any pain that can be your body’s warning that you aren’t ready to go further or faster yet. If the pain is too bad to run through, rest – don’t overmedicate simply to finish a run.
3. Lean on your friends to keep you accountable.
I was incredibly nervous to begin running again, and it helped to have friends physically at my side to both calm my nerves and share in my excitement…and then promptly tell me if I was training too hard too soon. I needed that outside voice of reason when I became too excited and overzealous with my distance too soon.
4. Cross train and continue your strength training and stretching that you did while injured.
Cross training helps rebuild your aerobic system and endurance. Try something new with less impact in the area of your injury. I started swimming. More than that, continue any strength training and stretching you picked up while injured. It will help your transition back to running.
5. Practice patience and embrace the good days.
The hardest part of training post-injury? Mentally comparing your speed and distance post-injury to pre-injury. Acknowledge that your body is recovering and that your aerobic level decreases even after just a week off. Understand that there will be painful, exhausting workouts, but embrace the good days in between where you feel fit, fast and strong. Lean into those days and be patient – eventually good workouts will exceed the tough ones!