David Manthey, coach of Runner’s Edge of the Rockies, shared this amazing training tip with me today. I thought it applicable to many different types of athletes (including my yogis) and thus decided to share it on the blog. If you are a runner, however his training method is the best! Contact him if you are thinking about training for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, or even ultra (he’s completely many). Just because it is an individual sport doesn’t mean you have to train alone….
If you’ve been running for a long enough time, then you’re probably no stranger to injuries. Whether it’s something severe enough to require surgery, or something small and nagging, they can all be highly annoying especially when they are tough to solve or may be holding you back from doing your best. Sometimes injuries are sudden, but oftentimes they start as a faint whisper due to overtraining or pushing through a small tweak. Pushing through pain or an injury may be OK at the end of a race (i.e., like pushing through ITB at Mile 20), but if it’s during training that’s different… The key is making sure that you are listening to your body when it’s whispering before it becomes a roar! I’ll share with you my own injury issues that I’ve been dealing with this winter and hopefully you can use it as an example/reminder for your own training:
Like most runners, I tend to have a bit of a “tough guy ego” and think that I can push through just about anything. Small tweaks, pains, etc… Well, that’s all part of running, right? Especially for an ultrarunner! Well… Unfortunately, there is a big difference between “normal” pan and those all-important whispers that I’m talking about. Fatigue, muscle soreness and minor tweaks that don’t hang around for very long are all very normal as a part of the training process when we apply the stress of training miles to our bodies that will make us stronger for race day. And sometimes you’ll have runs where you feel 100% great, and others where you’re a bit more tired/sore. BUT, if it’s something that is nagging beyond that and sticking around for a week, two weeks, three, a month… Then you’re beyond that “normal” range and are definitely dealing with something else. And the key is to listen closely for those whispers that are beyond “normal”, because if you ignore what your body is trying to tell you (and run through it), it can have a severe/negative impact on your training and races, and will probably extend your injury much longer and possibly jeopardize your races. And remember… You can’t set a new PR or achieve your goals if you can’t even make it to the start line!
And that applies 100% to me too, as I pretty much ignored those whispers back in October and early November during some of my runs. Did I hear the whisper? Yes. Did I actually listen to it though? Not much – I hoped they would just go away! Over the last few months as Julie and I have been prepping to run the Goofy Challenge next week in Florida, I’ve been dealing what I thought was “normal” tweaks/issues that were part of a.) not running much since the Leadville 100 in August b.) piss-poor/inconsistent training, and c.) running on icy/snowy conditions where I’ve had a few slips/falls. The pain I’ve been dealing with has pretty much been right in line with Plantar Fasciitis and Posterior Tibial Tendonitis, and is something that I’m familiar with throughout my running career. (Basically a lot of pain/soreness in the bottom of the heel and up the inside of the calf.) I’ve had PF/Post-Tib on/off throughout my running career, but this time it’s been in my right foot, when in the past year it would reside more in my left foot – That’s not entirely uncommon, as “Compensatory Injuries” can spring up as the body subconsciously attempts to protect the injured/weaker side of the body.
So, the whispers got a little louder and a little louder, and I just dealt with it and tried to battle through my runs, and got used to the post-run limping that was becoming a pretty common part of my routine this winter. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain so sometimes for me actually hearing/understanding those whispers is a little tough. But they finally got the point where they were a dull roar and loud enough that I was finally having to skip short runs and cut planned long runs shorter than I would have liked. Running was becoming very “un-fun” for me, and I even reached the point of frustration where I said to myself, “I ran 2 100-milers in 2011, and here I am barely able to get through a 4-mile recovery run. What the hell!” I also realized at that point that Goofy was not just going to be an easy cruise for me, and that finishing the race(s) could be in jeopardy. And best-case scenario I figured I would probably wind up slowly limping it in, well behind Julie. (Take that, ego!) And, had I properly addressed all of this back in early November when I started hearing the whispers, I would probably be in a much different place with my training. So again, the lesson here is to listen to those whispers early on so that they can be addressed quickly – The earlier the better, because the more you wait the longer you extend your recovery time.
BUT… The old adage “it’s never too late to start” applies here as well, and I’ve become hyper-sensitive to my body in the last several weeks, doing hourly checks of my pain levels, stretching, icing, etc., (no pain meds though, especially NDSAID’s like Advil, ibuprofen, etc., that wreak havoc on the body), and I also got in quickly to see Dr. Michelle Clark and Mike Allen for some chiropractic/ART/acupuncture care. I’ve gone in the last few weeks to see them and really work on the issue, have backed off my mileage some to give my body a little break to heal (because being 10% undertrained is still better than 1% overtrained), and hopefully I’ll be better by race day next weekend. But that brings up another issue with injuries and that’s how quickly your body adapts. Some people are “faster adapters” than others, and so the length of time it takes to recover from an injury varies from person to person and it’s important to CONTINUE to keep listening to those whispers a.) during your recovery and b.) when you resume your normal training routines.
While Mike Allen was sticking me full of needles yesterday (seriously, the best treatment ever and I wish I could do it daily) at their new Accelerate Healthcare offices, we talked about Mike’s quote that they had up on their Facebook page, which is so apropos for this training tip. He said, “YOU, the patient, are always in control of your treatments. WE, the healers, are but guides…” So true! So while people like Michelle & Mike, or Dr. Wolcott & Dr. Hill at the CU Sports Med Center, Karen Kalbach, etc. are all incredible healers, they also are not us, and cannot hear the whispers that our bodies are trying to deliver. So having a good network of healthcare providers is good to help us get through our injuries, it’s still up to us to decide “should I run today or skip? Should I opt for low-impact cross-training instead of a run? Should I bag that scheduled speed workout or long run and just do a short recovery run? Should I just lose today’s workout and focus on recovery activities like stretching/icing?” Starting the PT/treatment is important, but it’s also important to keep high levels of communication with your providers and to constantly continue to listen for those whispers and adjust the treatment and training as necessary so that you can get through your injury.
Hopefully that tip and my examples (albeit a little lengthy) will help you all the next time you start to hear those whispers… Because if you run enough, it’s not a question of “if” but WHEN you’ll start to hear them. But if you’re a good listener, then you’ll get through them quickly! (Kind of like school, eh?) And hopefully I’ve listened enough and it’s not too late, so that my race(s) next week at Disney isn’t too much of a suffer-fest, and I’ll be able to have a good start to 2012!Tweet