One thing we can all agree on is that injuries suck. In a sport like running they are bound to happen even when we do all the little things right.
When an Elite gets injured…
They immediately seek medical attention. The faster they find out what wrong and begin a treatment plan, the faster they return to the roads or the track.
When an amateur or “Average Joe” runner gets injured…
Stage 1: Denial
“Let’s just push through and finish this run.”
“Something’s not right. I guess should take a day off.”
Stage 4: Google
Next you turn to you’re good friend, Google.
Stage 5: Self-Pity
“Oh em gee I can’t run! Where's the ice cream?”
Stage 6: Defeat
You give in and seek a medical professional.
Stage 7: Motivation
When you realize it’s not the end of the world and all you need is a little kick in the butt to get on that foam roll and work on those PT exercises… Let’s go!
So why are these scenarios so different?
For an Elite, running is their job. Sure, some have part or even full time jobs and sponsors to support their career but racing is a big part of how they make their money. Elites are very in tuned to their bodies and know when something just isn’t right. They also know if they get injured and/or start to under-perform, contracts may be at stake and the less opportunities to get invited to races.
For the non-Elite, running may not be their source of income but it’s a big part of who they are. One thing I’ve learned through coaching is that runners are pretty hard core! Most runners have Type A personalities and always want to run MORE miles and run FASTER every workout. When they are injured, they tend to ignore it and push through, looking for every little tip or suggestion that might help them out when they really should be calling their doctor.
So if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t! There is a big difference between pain and a discomfort. When adding on mileage and speed work, you are bound to feel a little soreness and discomfort due to the demands placed on your body. (What’s up, DOMS?) On the other hand, you should always see a doctor if your pain lingers more than a day or two and if it’s affecting other activities of daily living.
Does your pain wake you up at night? Are you limping or compensating by changing your stride? Is there swelling or other red flags like numbness or tingling sensations?
Recovering from an injury takes time and patience is a hard trait to master. All the time spent looking for quick solutions, an injured runner could have been resting and receiving treatment. Instead they are just prolonging the healing process.
So why do we, the non-Elites, feel it’s ok to self-diagnose our injuries and continue to push to run even when we are hurt?
You tell me!