Like I said a few weeks ago, I feel like this time of year is synonymous with running injuries. Just last week, my plantar fascia tear popped up in my Timehop. That’s really been the last time I’ve been seriously injured… until now, of course.
And this time, I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky. It’s not necessarily an injury that will sideline me, but more of an annoyance that isn’t going to go away unless I do something about it. I’ve still be able to run, but my training has needed to be altered quite a bit to accomodate my injury. I’m SO thankful I can still be running, but it’s still depressing to not run like I used to. I finally feel like I’m on the upswing of things and am hoping to resume my normal training soon. You can check out my post on dealing with a running injury from a few weeks ago to know what you should do if you’re dealing with those minor aches and pains.
However, I know that sometimes, we aren’t so lucky when it comes to injuries and we have to take some legit time off. Talk about depressing. I wish that upon no one. Running might be hard, but NOT running is like the worst thing in the world. For sure.
So, what do you do when you do need to take time off? How much of a setback are you going to experience?
Here are the general guidelines for how to come back to training after an injury…
Minor injury or illness. So, you ended up with a minor cold or the stomach flu. Or, you ended up rolling your ankle because you missed the sidewalk while you were running (not that I know from personal experience or anything). Typically, if you have to take a day or two off from training, you don’t really need to worry too much about what has happened to your training. Some extra rest days really aren’t going to affect your running or your training schedule. You can just hop right back in where you left off, without having to adjust your mileage or intensity.
Longer illnesses and extra aches + pains. As someone with some major (unexplained) allergies, I tend to get frequent sinus infections that make it nearly impossible to actually get a run in because I’m SO exhausted. Or maybe that rolled ankle turned out to be a little more serious than you thought, and ended up with a little more swelling and needed to take more like a week to week and a half off from running instead of just those 1-2 days. If you have to take up to a week off from training, it’s still not going to have a major effect on your training. However, you will need to come back a little slower than if you only needed 1-2 days off. If you need to take a week off from training, do 3-4 easy runs before jumping back into your training. Depending on your training plan, you might want to repeat the previous week’s workouts before picking up on your training where you are supposed to be.
However, if your layoff ends up being a little longer – up to 2 weeks – it might be time to readjust your training goals, especially if you are in the last third of your training program. You simply just will not have enough time to get the same quality of training in as you would had you not had to take time off.
Major illness or injury. Ah, the dreaded injury. Now, you’re in a boot and are FORCED to take time off from running. Or you were advised that you need to take at least 2 weeks or more off from running. At this point, you will begin to lose a significant amount of your running “fitness” (even with cross training). This is when goals are going to need to be adjusted. While you may be able to still run the race, you will definitely need to readjust your time goals. Because of the loss of fitness, your time goal will need to be adjust by 5-10% of what you were originally planning. It may just be better to pick a later race so you do have the opportunity to regain your fitness.
In addition, with a major setback in your training, you are going to need to come back much more conservatively, starting at 25-50% the mileage you were doing when you got injured. One way I’ve found to “make up” for the lost mileage volume is by running 25-50% of my planned mileage and cross training the rest. You can increase your mileage by 10% each week, so be sure to take your time coming back – the last thing you want is another injury setback!
We all want to achieve our racing goals. However, sometimes setbacks happen unexpectedly (believe me). In the Elite Running Academy VIP, I am able to help you determine exactly what you need to do should you be faced with a setback. Plus, I’ll be offering my injury prevention tips and tricks to help you AVOID those depressing injuries!