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I ‘m a little worn out. Today was my second run back from injury which knocked me out of schedule for three weeks. Although frustrating and a little depressing at times I think the rest may have done me good and starting back sooner could have left me with longer term injury. I wanted to talk about getting through periods of injury by looking at how I did and then going into the period of easing back in.

The Injury

Anyone who pushes themselves in sport will experience periods of injury but with proper form, knowing your limits and leading a healthy lifestyle around the sport, in my case running, injury will be a lot rarer. Even though I have been injured for over three weeks my injury didn’t come from my running.

I was in Montreal up until just before Thanksgiving and during my time there I rejoined some old friends, I used to live there years ago, for weekly games of non-competitive ball hockey. Although there is no real competition that doesn’t mean the games are not fast and full of running and dramatic moments, it’s a lot of fun. Well it was a lot of fun until during a fast run I stopped suddenly to avoid running into another player and in the process stubbed my toe very badly. I ran it off a little, ignored the throbbing and continued to play, albeit at a much slower and less focused pace. I’m a pretty useless player so I don’t think anyone noticed.

Afterwards whilst enjoying a beer I noticed it was hurting really, really bad and it was too sore to even touch the top of my shoe. Even so, I later cycled home adjusting my foot to hurt less on the pedals. When I took my socks off to get to bed I took a look and noticed it was swollen to about twice the size of normal and half my foot was black. I realised then it wasn’t a normal stub!

I also realised that running was off for at least a few days and got to icing the injury and keeping my foot raised.

The Recovery

Recovery is very important and something no one should take lightly. You shouldn’t get back to any type of training without being sure you are ready, of course I didn’t fully heed that advice!

I was a little depressed and extremely frustrated at the prospect of not running especially due to the fact that in the previous 7 days I had managed to run two 13.1 mile distances on my own Montreal course and a personal best 10km distance.

After day 3 of the swelling going down but not the pain I realised this wasn’t a few days out of my schedule and I got really upset. I couldn’t even do a pushup because bending my toe in any direction was painful. I didn’t visit a doctor, mostly due to the fact that I had forgotten to arrange travel insurance for my Canada trip, but I self diagnosed a bruising of the bone or a hairline fracture. Whatever the diagnoses big toes are hard to treat and I knew more resting and icing was on the cards.

After a couple more days of annoyance and depression and tweeting for advice I had to give myself a pep talk. I am almost certain that recovery is helped along with a positive attitude and it wasn’t something I was exhibiting. I decided that the recovery was going to take as long as it takes and I needed to just enjoy the rest and realise that my Brooks would be waiting for me when I was ready to get back out there.

What I did to keep positive during recovery.

  • Kept up to date with running talk on Twitter via the #RunChat and #6amClub hash tags.
  • Purchased the latest edition of Runners World and read back to front.
  • Read blog posts from fellow runners.
  • Enjoyed being able to get up a few hours later and still get the same amount of work done in a day.
  • Looked forward to Thanksgiving and my pending journey down to Vermont.
  • Looked back at my RunKeeper runs from my Montreal training and just enjoyed the progress I had made.
  • For the most part I kept a healthy eating plan and kept myself hydrated.

Mistakes I made during recovery

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  • A week later I went back to Hockey with the idea of standing in goal. Of course I ran around more than I planned and a lot of swelling came back. Don’t start back too early.
  • I didn’t visit a doctor.
  • I didn’t ice enough in the early stages.
  • I didn’t take the time not running to write here on Regular Runner.

Getting back on the road

About a week ago I came to Vermont to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my girlfriend’s family and friends. I made the decision that even if the toe was recovered enough I would wait it out until after the feast. Of course on the day the idea of a Turkey trot was alluring but I had been put to work preparing food and getting ready for what I like to think of as a Christmas dress rehearsal.

After a few boozy celebratory days Sunday came. Three weeks since injury I decided it might be time to head out and run / walk a simple mile. The swelling was completely down, a small lump on the top of the toe still remained, hopping up and down on the spot and testing angles I realised that it wasn’t fully healed. However normal foot movement felt ok and I decided to take it slow and stop if I encountered any injury problems.

When getting back to exercise after injury you have to listen to your body and not try and run through injury related pain. It’s just not worth the long term problems and treating yourself right will get you back to full strength much sooner.

So out I went for that first mile. It felt great to be back out again, the Vermont weather was ridiculously warm, I even unzipped my light rain jacket and wished it wasn’t with me! My body took me about 2 miles before my toe started to ache slightly so I headed home beaming with excitement that I was back and happy that I had left it look enough to be back relatively pain free.

Two days later, today, I wasn’t aching, I felt pretty good so decided to go out for a midday run. I knew if I ran steady and paid attention to form, I tried to keep my heal striking and back straight, that I could spare the toe too much pounding. I planned to run somewhere between 3-5miles but 6.5 miles was the outcome. Don’t get me wrong though, it was no stroll in the park and I found it very tough.

My lungs actually started gasping a little at 1.5 miles, way too early I though! I couldn’t work out if energy was low because of the break, because I didn’t sleep well the night before or if I had not eaten enough. Anyway I was determined to make the 3 miles at very least. When I got closer to 2.5 the breathing was still heavy and I had a little fatigue in my legs but I decided to keep pushing because I wanted to see the road with it’s mountain range views that you can see in the image below. Along this road I had a incident with a farmhouse German Shepherd that led to me walking for 200m and oddly refreshing my breath enough to cruise a little easier home. In hindsight it was an awesome run!

Even though I was shuffling along like a Zombie this isn't a scene from The Walking Dead! It's a road on my route in Williston, Vermont.

I’m not sure if I am going too hard too soon but my brain just wanted it even though my lungs seemed to disagree. I also found, moving onto uneven ground for passing cars meant my toe did more work and it caused a little pain. The lungs were no problem, I can push through that as I have time and time again. Vermont is beautiful and the scenery helps you through the tough times as you always want to see more. Maybe I did work a little too hard for the injury so i’ll probably ease off on the next run and keep this recovery slow. That being said, I have no pain now and I am on my way back to my pre-injury fitness.

Have you been injured recently or any time? What tips do you have for getting through the injury and back out running? Would you have done anything majorly different to me like coming back sooner or even waiting longer?

When I can be I am a regular runner but I am also nothing special and certainly no elite, so in that respect I am regular too. However I do love talking about running and related things and I do have a lot of experience, over 15 years now.

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