Unless you’re Wolverine from the X-Men, injury is something you’ll have to deal with at some point. Whether it’s shin splints, sprained ankles, a break or something even more serious, running is an impact sport and your body can’t always take it.
Ten years ago, two heavily padded young men smashed the crap out of me during an American football match. A knee operation followed, but it was promptly forgotten about as university flew past in a whirlwind of booze and good times.
Complete neglect of any rehab meant that this autumn, in the build-up to the European 24hr Champs, something went wrong. My training could continue but, in-between sessions, walking was getting more and more difficult. Complete rest ensued for the 10 days before the race in the hope it was a muscle injury, but around four or five hours in, my race was over.
Keyhole surgery to clean the meniscus was successful and six weeks of no running prescribed. So how do you come back from an injury that completely stops you in your tracks?
Firstly, set goals – short-term rehab goals and long-term race goals. The World 24hr Champs in July 2017 is my ultimate aim, the thing that will keep me going during simple but time-consuming physio exercises. These may seem pointless one at a time, but they’re gradually building a protective wall against injury.
Work with good people; people who know what it is like to run for the love of it. And, this is the key bit, LISTEN TO THEM. Working with great specialists is pointless if you ignore their advice.
Focus on aspects of your running that you would usually ignore, be it your core strength, race research or nutrition.
And, finally, don’t try to rush things. Instead, focus on the small daily victories. If your head goes down, store that moment for when you’re back training, digging deep in a race or just feeling low. It’s all ammunition for dedicated running in the future.