Take It In Stride: Dealing with Injuries

This feels odd. Nope, check that. This hurts! Time to stop.

I first felt the pull in my knee on my Saturday run and thought it was just minor muscle fatigue.

Then about 3km into my Sunday run, a sharp pain told me my run was over. I walked from there and it only got worse so I stopped completely and called my partner for a ride.

Every long-term runner deals with an inevitable injury. So far in my four years I’ve luckily dodged anything major. Had a few aches and pains that made me take a week off, but nothing like this.

My knee had me gasping just walking up the stairs. This one was going to take some time to heal.

In the interest of full disclosure, I think I inadvertently caused this injury by attempting to learn how to long board. My 34-year-old exterior doesn’t always match my 16-year-old brain.

Mention an injury like this to other runners and walkers and their stories start to come out as they give words of encouragement, support and advice.

They, too, have had injuries that have required rest, physio or, even worse, surgery. They know what it means not to be able to do what you love and to face a long recovery.

A couple of weeks into my layoff, one of my good running friends asked me, “Have you reached the miserable/grumpy/cantankerous stage where you are craving that run that the knee just says no freaking way to?”

He himself went through a knee injury that hobbled him for a year. He advised my partner that it would be a good idea to find a room that she can send me to when I get too cantankerous (to the man cave!).

My kids would have to start giving me time outs rather than the other way around.

Many experienced runners/athletes give the sage advice not to rush back into it or try to “play through the pain”, because if you don’t deal with an injury properly, it’ll nag you for much longer than it could or should.

I visited the doctor and physio—key partners in making you well—and both said the knee is structurally sound (phew!) and it shouldn’t take long to get back to running.

That was five weeks ago. It is coming along, but much more slowly than I had hoped.

Another friend’s partner put it in perspective. She’s currently pregnant with twins and has been through labour twice before.

Her other half, a hardcore tri-athlete/runner has gone through similar injuries in the past and she knows what it is like to have a grumpy-guts in the house.

Her reality check was something to the effect of: “You try carrying these kids for nine months and then going through labour. Want to talk about not being able to train? Pain? You guys need to suck it up!”

Point taken.

There are many ways to put it into perspective. I was back to walking relatively pain free after a couple of weeks. That’s a gift, as was the ability to run in the first place.

An injury like this allows for cross training and other low-impact training. It could be much, much worse.

After three weeks of rest (aka moping) I started riding the bicycle, pool running and circuit training—basically any activity that wouldn’t bother my knee.

I’ve read about other athletes who have gone through similar recoveries and learned to appreciate the importance of cross training for overall better fitness. They usually make the cross training part of their routine from there out.

Admittedly, I’ve become so enamored with running, I haven’t done much else. There are other muscles that need to be worked and cross training needs to be done. This is a great reminder.

Running is a long game. Mileage is built up over years, as is speed. Setbacks happen. I accepted this week that the next race that I’ve signed up for isn’t going to happen.

The good news is that there is a multitude of races to shoot for down the road, including a 10K run with my partner (her first!) to celebrate our anniversary later in the summer.

I just need to get my knee back to good health again by leaving my whiny pants in the drawer and focusing on the goal—getting stronger and back out on the run.

If you are currently dealing with an injury, here’s wishing you a speedy recovery from your ailment(s).

Don’t forget the Yukon River Trail Marathon is on Sunday, August 5 in Whitehorse and lots of other events are coming up in August and September. Check out athleticsyukon.ca for more info.

Until next time, keep putting one foot in front of the other towards a happier and healthier life.

Ben Yu Schott lives in Whitehorse with his family. He writes a monthly running column, Take It in Stride, for What’s Up Yukon.

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