Coming Back from Injury

Coming back from an injury when you had to stop running for a few weeks to several months requires a lot of patience. Rushing back into similar pre-injury distance and intensity can result in another injury. There's a few things to keep in mind that can ensure your comeback is uninterrupted.

  • Don't compare your performance with your pre-injury self, as it will lead to frustration or doing too much too soon.
  • For at least the first couple weeks, keep doing the cross-training or physical therapy you did while injured. Gradually integrating running back into your routine will make for a smoother transition. Some preventative exercises you may need to maintain permanently.
  • Listen to your body and if you feel old or new injury symptoms, back off for as long as it takes to be pain free again. If you are lucky the setback could be only a week or as little as a day or two.
  • The first couple weeks can be hard, where you don't feel like a real runner. The muscle memory should click in after that and you should start to get in the rhythm by the third week, so remain patient!

I just started running again less than two weeks ago after a four week break to heal a tear in my quads. It's been particularly nervewracking because my type of injury often requires surgery. I won't know for sure if I need it until I test things out with some fast running. However I can't run fast until I've given myself at least 6 full weeks of recovery. I started with 1.5 to 2.5 miles every other day at 10 minute pace jog, then 9 minute pace. I've worked up to 5 miles yesterday with one mile at 7:38 pace, which for me still isn't fast enough for a proper test. Sometime after next week the moment of truth will happen when I attempt gradual increases peaking at 6 minute pace. I'm a little tight so I may delay it a while longer as I stretch and gain back my endurance. Wish me luck, and good luck to anyone who are also dealing with injuries.

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: This Week in Runners, Y, YMCA, Running, injury recovery, coming back from injury

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