Why You’re Injured

So, I’ve been a runner for going on 22 years. I started off running in 5th grade track and graduated to a full mile in 6th grade during my first cross country season. The next year is was 1.5 miles and by 8th grade, I was running 2 mile races. High school cross country introduced me to the 5K and freshman year of college was my first 10K (Bolder Boulder, baby!).

I was always very active. Not fashionable, mind you, but active. I never did learn how to stop properly in my roller skates. I always just ran into the grass.

It was a very slow progression. From 1-6.2 miles in 8 years. From there I started running LONG distances and ran my first marathon in 2003. I have run 9 marathons in 9 years.

And I’ve only missed one month of running due to an overuse injury.

One month.

It was an overused/underdeveloped left side gluteus medius and one month off of running + 3 months of rehab got me to my fastest marathon to date (3:46).

Post-injury Marine Corps Marathon. PR!

One month.

Why? Because it took me 8 years to get to 6.2 miles and 11 years til I ran my first marathon. That’s why.

If you understand connective tissue, you’ll understand why so many people experience overuse injuries when they decide to just “pick up” marathon running as a hobby in their 20s and 30s. Ladies, you have a huge strike against you. Estrogen contributes to the break down of connective tissue. Yay for being a woman. So, on top of all the repetitive movements that are making your newfound hobby hurt a little more than you expected, your hormones are actually working against you.

Ugh. The “why me?” of being injured is probably the most frustrating thing that I hear from newbie runners. Why you? I’ll tell you why:

  1. Because you did too much too soon.
  2. Because you didn’t rest and recover from your last marathon/half marathon/longest race.
  3. Because you don’t lift weights.
  4. Because you don’t take rest days.
  5. Because you don’t run enough for your body to get used to it.

If you go from 0 to 26.2 in a year, I guarantee you will have an overuse injury by the time that year is out. You may not even make it to your marathon because you will develop ITB syndrome, tendonitis or some other overuse injury. Promise. The odds that you will develop an injury can go up considerably when you look at your weight, diet and gait.

How do you get around this? Easy. Don’t go crazy.

Yes, it would be cool to run the New York City Marathon this year. You will not be ready by November. Try for next year. BETTER YET, try for 2 years from now and build up gradually. Sure, a half marathon in August may not kill you, but it will definitely not make you stronger. Why not shoot for a 10K instead?

Race For the Cure 5Ks are all over the country–and for a good cause! Lots of t-shirts with “boobies” written on them. Pretty sure you’re not gonna see that in Boston.

Don’t drop all of your other fitness habits just because you want to run. I still spin 2-3 days a week during first half of marathon training season. I also lift throughout the entire year to keep my muscles strong and to increase the density of my connective tissue, which is a very slow process.

Don’t go crazy. Take your time. If you do it right, you can start running now and be able to run for the rest of your life. If you do it wrong, this might be the only race you ever run.

Your choice. Run forever or run for now?

Tell me about your injury. When did you finally seek treatment? Share with us so we might learn from you!

Now go out and run.

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6 thoughts on “Why You’re Injured

  1. Wow. I really loved your posting. I am going to reread it often to keep me on track.

    I have been running since my early 20’s (am now 45), have run several half marathons and did my first full in Nov. 2010. I took 2011 off from racing purely because I felt I was getting burned out mentally and physically. I was continually training for the next race and found myself mentally thinking of running as a chore. Physically it was one injury after the next, sore knees, pain in the hip, pirofirmis etc.

    I took a step back and realized I was outrunning my love for running. I decided in 2011 no racing, cut back on mileage and rediscover what I fell in love with in the first place.

    I am now looking forward to racing again in the fall (2012) but can’t decide if I want to do a full or a half. This year was my 3rd rejection for ING NYC so I am a guaranteed entry it 2013. I am going to be SO careful this year so nothing can jeopardize me for 2013 ING NY.

    Thanks for a great blog!

    • Let us know which one you decided! It’s great that you took the time to step back and regroup. Very necessary and underused tool.

  2. Hey there! Thanks for the ride on Saturday- it was my first spin and lots of fun :)

    I agree with a lot of points you make- most injuries come from overtraining, doing too much too soon etc. I have been lax with core/strength work which leads the ITB to do too much work. I am working on it though.

    I do think though that some people are naturally more injury prone than others. You can follow all the the rules and still get injured. Flat feet, one leg shorter than the other, weak joints etc- unfortunately there’s sometimes no way of knowing these things without learning the hard way.

    • Thanks for coming, Josie! Great to meet you, too. You’re right. Fundamental discrepancies in our biomechanics can also be to blame for running injuries. The ones I hear about from people I know are largely overuse since they’ve all been seen by physicians. Just one side of the injury spectrum.

  3. Thanks for posting this, I am still a rookie, trying to learn all I can about running and trying my damn hardest to get better! I still got injured though, despite the rest days, despite the weights and despite the stretching. Now looking at being out for about a month I reckon, and missing a very important race – sympathy please! ;)

  4. Pingback: Marathon Running | Foot Doctor | Training | Haro Podaitry Center | Jersey City NJ

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