4 Injuries in 7 months: Lessons That I Learned
At 38, I can’t be as reckless with my body as I once was even though right now I’m feeling more confident in my training than ever before. Despite being injured four times this past year, I’ve learned from my mistakes and some fairly common pitfalls that can derail most competitive runners. The silver lining is that I've now put my number one emphasis on staying healthy, not achievement. In the past, I didn't really have to think about staying healthy because I was always fairly durable. With this shift, I've taken a lot a pressure off without losing any motivation. Here’s what happened to me; what I’ve learned; and the simple adjustments that I’ve made to stay healthy.
Injury #1 Severe Ankle Sprain (Torn Ligaments) Fall 2010
What happened: 3 days after dropping out the NYC marathon at mile 17 with knee and hamstring issues, I severely rolled my ankle on a half buried wood chip on the bridle path in Central Park during an easy run. This abruptly put to an end to any ideas of taking advantage of my marathon fitness for a fast indoor track season.
What I learned: My knee and hamstring issues became problematic while trying to fit in too much training the last month going into the marathon. Reason for this was that I started my marathon built up with little foundation and had to play catch up. I believe my ankle rolled as severely as it did because my body was in a weakened physical state recovering for the 17 miles at marathon race pace 3 days earlier.
What I do now: Don’t start marathon training without significant foundational work already in place. Be extra careful when running on ruddy, uneven terrain, after hard workouts and during long runs when the body is in a state of physical distress. Watch foot strikes. Most of all, allow significant recovery time from physically demanding events.
Injury #2 Right Hamstring Strain Winter 2011
What happened: After struggling back into workout shape after the ankle sprain and subsequent rehab, I came up lame doing 150’s working on finishing speed after a 3x 1mile workout. This abruptly put to an end any ideas of getting some speed fitness together to run fast right from the beginning of the outdoor track season.
What I learned: My body doesn’t like mixing speed in after a strength-based workout.
What I do now: Only work one system at a time on a given day’s workout. If it’s a strength workout, I just do strength. If it’s a pure speed day, I just do speed.
Injury #3 Left Quad Strain Spring 2011
What happened: Doing strides after a regular run on cold, rainy April night, I felt a twinge in my left quad. I ignored it and continued. On the ninth stride out of ten, my quad locked up rendering me immobile. This left my hobbled and unable to run very fast for a few days. Gradually it subsided, but it lurks under the skin ready to crop up at any time.
What I learned: If you feel a twinge, that’s the body’s signal to stop what you’re doing or you’ll cause further damage. Your body speaks the language of pain signals, not English.
What I do now: If I start to feel a twinge or hear a bodily signal telling me that my body is in jeopardy, I stop the workout and call it the day.
Injury #4 Left Hamstring Strain Summer 2011
What happened: Away from home, I was doing a 100 meter repetition track workout. On my tenth and last repeat I pulled my left hamstring. On the previous repeat I had felt a twinge. This put an end to my outdoor track season and racing at the USATF Club Nationals Track and Field Championships. To add insult to injury, I had to walk the mile and half back to my girlfriend's parents' house.
What I learned: Listen to your body, stupid.
What I do now: If I start to feel a twinge or hear a bodily signal telling me that my body is in jeopardy, I stop the workout and call it the day