Keep Going Through Injury

If you’re an injured runner, don’t throw in the towel. Here’s how to stay in the game


Posted: 20 October 2010
by Ruth Emmett

injured_man

You've invested hours in training and denied yourself hundreds of treats - so what happens if disaster strikes? "Having your ambitions frustrated by injury can be really stressful, but the important thing is to stay active in the sport in whatever way you can," says sports psychologist Victor Thompson (sportspsychologist.co.uk). The good news is that even when you've been put out of the running, there are ways to keep training and remain part of the race-day action.

Get back to class

After having had a thorough and accurate diagnosis, an injured runner's biggest stumbling block is uncertainty. "You need a clear, step-by-step plan for getting back into training," says Thompson. Try to get a race place deferred to next year, giving you something solid to work towards. Then join either a running-specific rehab group or a yoga class and track your progress. "Note every time you hold a stretch a little longer, jog a little faster or manage a few more sessions a week," says Thompson. "Nothing motivates people like success."
Get stuck in: Attending aqua-jogging group classes is one of the best routes to recovery. Doing just a 15-minute session twice weekly keeps fitness levels up without putting strain on your joints.

Marshal art 

If you crave a little more responsibility, consider signing up to marshal a local race. After three years of normal club running, Janet Burnage of Romsey Road Runners took the plunge. "In some ways, being a marshal is as tactical as racing," she says. "You are not legally allowed to direct or stop traffic, so keeping both runners and motorists happy is a big challenge." Thompson adds, "If you do something like this instead of sitting at home feeling more and more despondent, you're likely to double your efforts with rehab because you'll have realised how much you miss it."
Get stuck in: Scout around the Runner's World race listings to find small events that are put on by local clubs - they rely on volunteers to keep things running. UK Athletics has contact details for every running club in the country (runtrackdir.com).

Sweet charity 

Don't assume that you can only do good by running. When Stephen Fothergill fractured his ankle falling down the stairs, he was devastated to miss his chance at running London 2010 for the RNIB. Hampered by "excruciating pain" but not wanting to "feel like an outsider", he contacted the charity and volunteered to cheer other runners on. "It was really fulfilling to support teams and get the runners going," says Fothergill. "It also gave me a really good insight into what to expect next year."
Get stuck in: Ring a few charities to find out what's on offer, and at which races. Depending on your skills and their contacts, you could work anywhere from the water stations to the medical tents.

Join the crowd 

Don't neglect your running buddies on race day: "You risk suffering not only a loss of routine but also a social loss," says Thompson. Take a tip from veteran race supporter Elisabeth Davie, who has cheered on her family members every London Marathon since the first one back in 1981. She treats race day like a military operation: "First, you need to study a route map and their projected time-splits, then choose your goal," she explains. "Is it to see your friends through their start line nerves, cheer them on during the race, or be with them at the finish?"
Get stuck in: As you recover, get your running buddies to return the favour while you tackle shorter races with a run/walk combination. Or try one of the Just Walk races, which range from 10K to 60K (acrossthedivide.com).


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