Listen to your Body and stay injury-free

This year has been an interesting one.  With my challenge of running the Dopey at Disney, and following that with two more Full Marathons to reach Marathon Maniac status, I have come to a better appreciation of the common wisdom of "listening to your Body".

So what does that really mean?

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For me, it has meant being flexible with my training and smart about the types and levels of workouts in which I engage, as I work to maintain my endurance and fitness between races and avoid any serious injuries in the process.  For someone who still feels relatively new to the sport of running, my goal of completing 3 Full Marathons within 90 days (and kicking that off with the Disney "Dopey"), is a significant undertaking.

Coach Cari was not a fan of my taking on this challenge.  She felt that I needed a larger mileage 'base' and was worried I might suffer an injury.  My other coaches, Meghan and Coach Jenny, were a bit more supportive but also vocal about having a solid training plan that also included massage and stretching, AND, the need to listen to my body and follow its lead.

So I have been following their advice.  I ran for over 1,100 miles in 2012 in preparation for this challenge.  And because I only have 3-4 weeks between marathons, I utilized a recovery plan from Coach Jenny that is designed to maintain my endurance/fitness levels while giving my body as much time to heal/recover in that short period between races.  But most importantly, I am always assessing how my body is feeling on a daily basis in order to avoid issues resulting from over training and/or over use.

I have been relatively successful thus far.  I have experienced the usual soreness in feet, legs, hips, and glutes.  Usually those go away after some stretching, foam rolling, massage, and stints in the Jacuzzi.  To help reduce training stress, I have included swimming into my weekly routine.  Swimming provides a great cardio workout with minimal stress on my legs and feet.  It also helps me exercise my hips and legs in different ways using different muscle patterns to help with blood flow and stretching out those achy muscles.

I am also more flexible about skipping a workout or a run if the body feels really tired or simply not up to the effort on that particular day.  Not to be a slacker, but to be smart about knowing my body's limits.  The last thing I need is to get hurt and not being able to finish my races.  I've come too far.

So last Sunday, I had my first scare.  I had planned a 6M Long Run and decided to do it outdoors.  It was sunny and a perfect run day.  In the midst of my 5-minute warm-up, I slipped on ice and felt on my left hip/glute.  Ouch!  I got up and walked for a few more minutes to test out the hip.  It was sore but nothing acute.  So I continued with my run and finished with 6.6 miles.

Later that evening, the hip and glute were still store, so after icing it and taking some ibuprofen, I called my masseuse.  Luckily, she had an opening at 9AM the next morning.  She spent a good hour working on my hips and legs.  It was painful at certain points but when she was done, I felt much better.  I really dodged a bullet!

Another incident happened just two days ago.  I was in the midst of a 5M run on the Treadmill when I started feeling a sharp pain in my right hip.  So I walked for 90 seconds to see if it would go away.  When it did, I started to pick up the pace.  Then I had another sharp twinge.  Okay, that was my clue to switch to a cool-down walk and end the run.  So instead of 5 miles, I got in 3.75.

Part of me wanted to just 'push through' and finish the 5 miles.  But the smarter part of me decided it was best to just stop, do some stretching, and call it a day.  With 10 days until my next marathon, it wasn't worth the risk of injury.  So that evening, i went to my Chiropractor who worked on the hip flexors, IT Band, and Glutes and things felt a lot better!  And, I skipped my Team Weight Loss cardio program the next day.

This week really was a "listen to my body" experience.  It brought that lesson home to me in many ways.  So on Sunday, I will try for another Long Run if things feel okay.  Then it will be taper time and I will likely just rest until Race Day.

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