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5 Ways to Train After Injury or Illness

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Think of the free time you'll have! - said no runner ever Think of the free time you'll have! - said no runner ever I’ve had a non-existent running season this fall. First I had piriformis issues, which took me out of running for two weeks. Then I developed tonsillitis, which kept me out for another week. Finally (I hope) I incurred two tears in one of my retinas and had emergency eye surgery, which has so far kept me out of running for two weeks. Meanwhile, I’ve watched every race I had looked forward to run past me while I play way to much Candy Crush Saga. I can feel the urge to start running again - and hard - once I’m cleared by the physician. Suspecting that might not be a good idea, I researched training after  injury to make sure I don’t have yet another set back. Here’s what the experts all seem to agree on:
  • Know when your body is ready. You should have no pain when resting or doing normal, every day actions. The injured area should not be tender to the touch.
  • Obey the ‘pain threshold’. Once pain occurs during the first workout, note the time and/or distance. Stop your workout for the day. That length of time/distance is your ‘pain threshold’. Your next workout should be just under that time/distance, and increase from that figure each week.
  • Use the 10% increase rule. Once the starting distance/time is set, increase your distance ten percent each week, assuming the pain is now in check. If you experience pain before the goal distance of a workout, repeat step one above.
  • Stop skimping. Now is the time to start practicing the safety measures you may have been secretly ignoring so far. Get a properly fitted pair of shoes at a specialty running store. Start warming up and cooling down religiously. Invest in foam rollers and compression wear and use them.
  • Practice patience. It’s typical for recovery to take weeks and sometimes months. Professional trainers assume the recovery training will take at a minimum the same number of weeks that you were sidelined. Try not to view your recovery workouts as a penalty, but as an investment in longer and stronger workouts in the future.

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