Injuries: some say that they can be avoided while others say that they’re a part of running. Some in the minimalist and barefoot movement will say that running injury free is possible if we run how are bodies were designed to run while ChiRunners will say that, if we can just rediscover the stride of our youth, we’ll all be well on our way to making injuries a thing of the past. While I can’t say for certain if any of the above is true, I can say that injuries are frustrating, irritating and sometimes make me wonder why I do this thing called running.
As many years as I’ve run, I’ve come to realize that injuries are a part of running and, as many claim to have one size fits all solutions to any injuries, it’s been my experience that they simply don’t exist. Take the recent experiences with Lauren Fleshman for example: an Olympic hopeful who has been sidelined by an IT band gone bad. And, as many resources as she has at her disposal, the opinions of exactly why she’s injured seem to vary quite a bit, which doesn’t give me a whole lot of hope since I’ve recently begun a battle with ITBS.
My only other “major” injury was shin splints -- I call it major because it kept me off the roads for darn near sixteen years. Like many, I too hit the interwebs looking for that single thing that would cure what ailed me (adding a bit of hair on my head while it’s at it?) but, time after time, that sure-fire cure didn’t work. Instead, it took a lot of trial and effort on my part to bring myself to a point at which I was running regularly. And, for almost two years, I was a happy runner. Sigh.
So, as I stare down the face of ITBS, or more commonly referred to as runner’s knee, I’m left wondering what the cure will be and how long I’ll be off the roads this time. And, in the same sentence, I’m left wondering how to avoid this in the future. After all, I tried to be careful, listening to my body to the best of my ability as I built up my miles. I also followed the 10% per week max increase by increasing roughly 5% week over week. And, I had a few weeks of lower mileage mixed in. I did everything right, so why do I hurt?
I remember a conversation that I had years ago with a fairly successful motorcycle racer. At the time, I was pretty into going fast on bikes so I had a ton of questions for him about his mental approach to getting through corners quickly. One thing that he said stuck with me: “If you’re going to ride fast, you’re going to go down.” I think, to a certain extent, this applies to running as well: if you’re going to run, you’re going to go down to injury at some point. It’s a necessary evil, and one that can test our dedication to the sport. As much as I want to complain about pain and being off the roads, I still maintain that I’m darn glad that I’m a runner and, especially now that Spring’s right around the corner, I can’t wait to be running once again, uninjured and for the pure joy of it – until I’m injured again.