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Cross Training Through Running Injury


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Joining up with Friday Five and Fitness Friday!

Welcome to the final installment of Marathon Training Prep Week!

Monday, the festivities kicked off with the announcement that I am going to be a Marathon Coach with Chicago Endurance Sports this summer as well as the launch of the Summer Shape Up Blog Hop Giveaway where I am focusing on Healthy Snacks on the Go.

Tuesday’s topic was about How to Avoid Burnout during Marathon Training.

Wednesday (National Running Day) looked at Balance in Your Marathon Training Diet.

Thursday offered some of my favorite Running Takeaways and Inspiration for Marathon Training.

Today’s topic?

Cross Training through Running Injuries.

Injury during marathon training is, rather unfortunately, rather probable, regardless of how careful you are. Sometimes, these are just “take the next 24 hours off” blips in the radar; sometimes, you are dealing with a season-ending gash in your plans. Either way, injuries can lead to a lot of frustration, planning, fretting, anxiety, even anger. I’m not saying that I haven’t been there.

I spoke last Thursday about my pendulum like undulations in feelings with regards to my progress. Last year, I wrote a post about feeling “snake bit” with regards to my injury proclivities. I have had to completely adjust my training schedule before, and I’ve missed races (but still met friends!). So what did I do mid-April when I found myself in an injury-pickle? I made a new plan, this time one that would help me keep my sanity as well as (and even improve) my fitness.

For some people, injury means a chance to take time off–and they very much need that. I want to be very clear and say that there is nothing wrong with taking time off. You are not weak. BUT there is also nothing wrong with training while you are recovering. You are not being stupid, if you are very careful about what you are doing and (preferably) have permission to do so!

PLEASE note that I had the permission of my Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist to proceed with my cross training. This is my situation, NOT YOURS. I am not giving you permission! Get your own!

Cross Training During Injury Recovery: Why?

I have some alternative circumstances at play that prompted me not to opt to take the time completely off of exercise, beyond my desire to maintain my fitness lifestyle:

  • The fact that this wasn’t a typical all-out stress injury–yes, it was a stress injury, but not because I was running a ridiculous amount, I was actually running far less!
  • I see myself as only having a about a year left of unabashed, self-involved running before I have to make some really big changes that are most likely going to keep me from the Lake Front Path.
  • My team for Ragnar Chicago was willing to make certain accommodations for me to be able to attempt at least part of the race and be part of the team (THANK YOU GUYS)
  • My body didn’t feel broken down or in need of a break; rather, I felt like I needed some restructuring of my training. 
  • I had permission and options for other training that would not hamper my recovery.
  • I know how to read my body and respond appropriately (ie the difference between pain and discomfort).

Cross Training Through Running Injury: How?

1) Accept the Injury

Seriously, stop trying to fight it! And give your mind a break–fretting about it will just keep you up at night, and isn’t it always better to be happily surprised by getting better way more quickly than to be disappointed every time that you go out?

dealing with injury why im not mad at my body

Don’t Be Mad at Your Body or Yourself

Phase 2 of acceptance is to Reconceptualize the injury. No, you can’t run, but what CAN you do? I couldn’t do anything that would cause impact on my tibia, so ellipicals, even spinning out of the saddle, any sort of high impact moves, they were all out. But I could swim, spin (in the saddle) and walk (in my boot). 

Phase 3 is DO WHAT THE DOCTOR TELLS YOU. I wore a boot for 2 weeks. #DasBootSuz was a way of life. 

2) Invest in your Cross Training

You know how you feel with new shoes, or when you make a date with someone to meet somewhere, or you sign up to do something. So make your cross training mean something. Spend the time, spend the $$, learn about it, and ENJOY it. I took advantage of a Class Pass opportunity and went to Flywheel (did you see my tips for making it work for you?), pilates, even barre. I wasn’t ready to get back to yoga in case of jump backs.

flywheel nevercoast suzlyfe

sidebar: spinning is excellent cross training for runners!

I recommend a combination of both new and old activities: old, familiar, “safe” activities where you know what to expect, and that you know won’t aggravate things. But maybe try some new venues, new types of those activities. But be sure to let the instructor know about your injury.

Even just the simple investment of a Aqua Jogger belt, a good suit, goggles, and cap will promote your swimming!

3) Listen to your Body

Yes, invest in those activities, but don’t jeopardize your recovery. If you wake up the morning before a class, and things don’t feel right, STOP. Swallow the fee (if there is one)–it is likely less than what you would pay the doc to get “fixed.”

Soulcycle with my ladies!

Soulcycle with my ladies!

Learn the difference between pain and discomfort, the aches of a body in the middle of healing and the pains of your good work breaking down. And when in doubt, chill and rest it out.

4) Devise a Schedule like you would your Typical Training

Have a plan! But this is when being flexible is imperative, like I talked about on Tuesday as well as in this post on training with chronic illness. But I like to get back to a real body split strength training cycle (back day, biceps and shoulders day, chest day, triceps day, legs interspersed), “tempo” days (often at Flywheel), and long endurance days. Rest days are still crucial! Have your light and heavy days planned out. 

This time shown just to show you the aqua jogger belt, I promise!

This time shown just to show you the aqua jogger belt, I promise!

You will find comfort in the structure, as well as the ability to improvise (like choosing a different activity for your light day). But always be careful to mind your condition.

5) Gauge your Improvement

This doesn’t just mean to gauge your injury improvement (remember, this improvement will likely NOT be linear!) but your improvement and GAINZ in your new cross training activities! I realized that I was improving in Flywheel significantly, I’m getting stronger, and in the pool, my mind is much more steady and my ability to push is vastly better. 

Starting to see some improvement!

Starting to see some improvement!

Celebrate that you are still able to remain active. Celebrate that you are still able. Don’t wallow. Move onward and upward! 

what doesn t kill you bears

And when it is time to come back? Be careful, cognizant, and remember that it isn’t likely to be perfect. Take your time. And keep cross training!

My last word of advice concerns the larger picture: recalibrate your goals–I am no longer anticipating 8:00-8:30 legs at Ragnar; I will be happy if I am able to do my legs period!

How to Successfully Cross Train through Injury #runchat #marathontraining #fitfluential via @suzlyfe Click To Tweet

Have you ever had to cross train through injury? What was your last major training set back?


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