Managing Injury Setbacks

It is perhaps the most frustrating moment in sports: you have trained well for a solid period of time and then suddenly an injury occurs, often when we least expect it.

Your world turns from a place filled with promises of PBs to a dark, foreboding place where your dreams slowly slip away as everyone else gets faster.

First thing’s first: injury is not the end of the world! Now is the time to use your brain rather than your brawn. Stay calm and do the right thing now, and you can minimize the damage. Fail to pay attention, and you risk a recurrent injury that could plague you for years.


Get Perspective

Every injury does not have to spell the end of a season and your planned goals. If you find yourself hurt or even just wondering if you may be hurt, it’s best to stop training immediately until you figure out how bad the injury is. This may require specialist advice. If you’re on the fence with this one, you’re better off safe than sorry. We so often try to train through an injury, and end up making a small tweak much worse!


Make a plan

Once the severity of the injury is determined, sit down and review the impact on your training plan and goals (ideally with your coach if you have one). Consider the following:

  • Length of rehab period
  • Opportunity for cross-training activities such as swimming, elliptical, exercise bike, etc.
  • Future race targets and changing your objectives if necessary

Use the above factors to get an idea of what you’ll need to do to minimize the injury’s impact on your running goals. Often once we have some time to digest our situation, we accept that we have to change our objectives, and the sooner this realization is made, the better!

Ignoring an injury, at best, will result in a sub-optimal performance—at worst, you’ll create a long-term absence from running.


Learn from it!

“A mistake is only a mistake if it is repeated, otherwise it is a lesson”. It is very important to review the training data prior to the injury to identify the root cause, and to prevent this being repeated in the future.

There is normally always a reason for an injury, be it an accident, or trying a new workout or training at a new level of intensity. Make sure you figure out the cause. The goal of all training is to push the body to the boundaries without getting injured or sick, so we all do risk injuries when training, but the key is to know your body and to learn from your training history to get the best fitness improvements without risking injury.

When injury happens, there’s nothing to stop you returning stronger in the long term. Simply take sensible steps in the immediate aftermath and be open to adapting your race plan and training practices. There is no reason you cannot overcome any setback!


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