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Taboo Topic- Running Injuries

Are you superstitious? I am.

One of my superstitions is this fear of jinxing myself when it comes to discussing certain topics out loud.

You may have noticed that I shy away from a certain topic in particular….

Running Injuries

 

Ahhh!  I said it out loud! Time to knock on wood…

Aside from my random-out-of-nowhere-still-can’t-explain-how-or -why shoulder injury which occurred back in April 2013, I am able to run happy 99.9% of the time without any issues or discomfort to report.

And because I have no discomfort to report, I have no injuries to discuss. And because I have none to discuss, I live in fear of discussing that I have none to discuss.

From time to time I do receive emails from readers asking for advice regarding running injuries as well as tips on to how to stay injury free. They want to know what it is I do or don’t do to keep running without being sidelined.

At first thought, I haven’t a clue. I just do my thing.

But that’s not a great answer to help anyone so I gave it some more thought and decided it was time to face my fear of discussing the topic by approaching it with you this morning.

Just remember, I am no expert. Not even when it comes to myself. And really, do the experts truly know what will 100% work or not work every time?

How I Think I Run Injury Free

*The Right Running Shoes*

I know we have spoken a lot about finding the right running shoes for your feet and when to replace them but it is worth mentioning again.

When you are running in the right shoes for your feet, the world is a happier place.

Sometimes that nagging knee pain, odd hip feeling, shin splints, hamstring tightness and sore heels aren’t really injuries waiting to explode but discomfort caused by the wrong running shoes.

But yes, it is absolutely possible to end up with a true injury if you continue to run in the wrong model or a burned out pair of sneakers.

adidas energy boost

My feet on occasion may talk about needing a change of shoe scenery but at the end of the day, the Adidas Energy Boosts are their true love.

I am on my fourth pair and our time together has been just about seamless.

I used to experience pain on the tops of my feet after my runs which would linger into the next run as well as cause pain in other places because I would run a certain way to compensate for the discomfort.

I was always trying to readjust the laces to relieve the pressure or whatever the heck was going on but it never worked.

adidas energy boost

Once I switched to Adidas, the sock-like fit eliminated my top of foot pain for good. Not once since owning these shoes have I experienced that pain again.

 *I Don’t Push It*

Let’s start with pace:

I do use MapMyRun for every run and I have an idea of where my average/usual pace hangs out but I don’t force it upon myself and never really think about it much when I am finished.

I have weeks where I’m flying in the 8:00 min/mile range, days on the treadmill where I am in the 7:00 min/mile range and feel great dropping under 7:00 min/mile along with PLENTY of days where my best of abilities is averaging around 9:30 min/mile.

I do know for myself that if I clock in too often at a ten minute mile, my body is tired and shouldn’t be running. However, there are days where I feel like running at that pace so sometimes, it’s a judgment call that only you can make.

Sometimes I run knowing that I can push myself a bit more but I don’t even bother.

I am not seriously training for anything and if you asked me to run a half marathon this weekend, I know that I could easily do it and even consider a PR.

Would I like to run a half marathon just under 1:45 which would be a new PR for me? Sure. But I don’t run all of the time thinking about it.

While I do talk often about pushing yourself in terms of motivation to get out there, I don’t think it is smart to overpush your pace.

There’s a difference between running hard, running comfortably hard and overdoing it.

I try to avoid the overdoing it.

Let’s talk mileage:

There’s that 10% rule for a reason. Suddenly going from ten miles a week to thirty miles a week is a guaranteed way to get injured.

You should never increase your mileage more than 10% any given week.

I didn’t wake up running forty miles a week. I didn’t read someone’s blog, take note of their weekly mileage and strive to exceed it.

I slowly went from three miles a day to four miles a day to one day having six miles a day as a routine daily run.

My long run started at three miles. It slowly progressed over months, if not years, to where I am now.

Running too fast and running too many miles too quickly has been known to injure people and I don’t want to be one of those people. If that means I only run forty miles a week with an average pace in the nine minute mile range, I can certainly live with that.

*I Eat*

It’s no secret that I honor my sweet tooth and never deny a craving. However, I also pack my diet with the nutrient dense stuff that my muscles really enjoy for endurance and recovery.

I also make it a point to eat within 30-60 minutes following a run. This window is crucial.

oatmeal and yogurt in a jar

On the extremely random occasion that I miss this window, I feel the difference. I get a headache, my muscles are stiffer and my recovery later in the day and even into the next morning absolutely suffers.

Refueling with a mix of protein, complex carbs and fat is key to restoring your glycogen and blood sugar levels as well as giving your muscles what to work with in order to rebuild stronger for the next day.

You can certainly try to limit your carbs and caloric intake while simultaneously trying to build up your mileage and pace but I cannot see how doing all of that will give you much success, let alone keep you injury free for long.

Your muscles need fuel. Your body does lots of stuff on top of your running and survives on the food you give it.

And you need water. Are you drinking enough water? Add a glass to that answer.

*I Get My Period*

How many times do I need to say that a healthy menstrual cycle is a good sign of a healthy body?

Did you know that not having a regular menstrual cycle leaves you more susceptible to injuries, stress fractures and guess what else – osteoporosis.

Trust me. I understand that life seems easier when your calendar doesn’t run by a 28 day cycle but when your hormones aren’t circulating, rising, falling and giving you a need for tampons, your body is basically telling you things are not okay.

I have dealt with amenorrhea which we have talked about a lot already so I will just give one more point on the subject:

I didn’t need to stop exercising. I didn’t need to decrease my intensity or consider less mileage (not that I ran as much as now when I didn’t get a normal cycle but just go with this for a minute).

The problem came about because I was not giving my body the amount of energy (calories) it required to expend the amount of energy (exercise) I desired.

Even if you think you are fine and it doesn’t matter because you don’t want to have a baby right now, it’s not fine.

Just because you don’t see the effects of not having a regular cycle on the outside does not mean your insides aren’t screaming all out of whack about to snap or twist or fracture or sprain.

I got real lucky back in the day to not hurt myself. It’s not something I would want to toy with again.

I hate being so brutal about this topic but sometimes, until you read it in black and white, you don’t see the severity of the issue.

*Rest & Recover*

Not only do I make sure to lay down for a bit after a hard run, I always recover with my Pro Compression Calf Sleeves.

pro compression calf sleeves

Some products are just gimics and then some products really work. There’s a major difference in how my legs feel after recovering in my Pro Compression calf sleeves compared to the days before I started using them.

I also make sure to sleep a good seven to eight hours a night. Of course some nights are less but plenty are more.

*Ignorance Is Not Bliss*

Sometimes I am all for keeping my head in the sand but not when it comes to my running.

If I feel something…anything…a twinge, a tightness…the start of a soreness….I attempt to find the root of the issue.

Is it my shoe? Is it time for a new pair? Did I run too many days in a row? Did I sleep funny? Did I forget to eat a sweet potato? Do I need pineapple?

I can usually figure out the issue and nip it in the bud fairly quickly.

I guess the point I am trying to make here is that I don’t push through pain or discomfort.

I know the difference in me when it’s simply a matter of loosening up and when it’s a matter of STOP.

Other random runner tidbits about me:

I don’t foam roll. Maybe I should but I don’t.

I do stretch but nothing crazy.

I do crosstrain but probably not enough.

Does Pure Barre help to keep my muscles working and injuries at bay? Maybe. I like to think so.

Protein bars are not a regular part of my diet; I like Skoop but don’t drink shakes and smoothies as my recovery meals.

I rarely eat pasta.

I don’t get sick often at all (knock on wood again!) but on the rare occasion that I do, if it’s more than a slight cold, I don’t push myself to run. If I don’t feel well, how the heck could I possibly run?!

I am not a big drinker. A glass or two of wine on occasion but it’s not on my regular menu.

I fuel with jelly beans or raisins during my long runs but truly wonder if they help or just taste nice.

Could it be genetics?

I don’t really know.

I mean, my dad was a runner. A three-time New York City Marathoner along with a crazy amount of random Long Island races and half marathons.

He also has terrible-horrendous-awful-need-to-be replaced knees and a runner’s toe (we still don’t know what that means but we let him say he has one) and did the absolute opposite of everything I have listed above.

I really don’t know if there is a tried and true way to stay injury free.

I think it’s more of a routine to follow for yourself. To know your limits. To know what is healthy and probably what’s not such a good idea. To not look to be some hero and not care so much about hitting a pace before you are capable or hitting it too often that you are overdoing it.

And then maybe walk around with a rabbit’s foot or a crystal in your pocket to bring you some extra luck.

If you ever have a question, please feel free to email me, I may not have the answer but I do love to ramble on and chat anyway!

*****************

Are you superstitious?

Favorite post-run recovery meal?

Do you do anything in particular to help prevent injuries?

 

 

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  • Susie @ SuzLyfe September 30, 2014, 6:37 am

    My body is incredibly sensitive (as we all know) and would love to just fritz out on me at a second’s notice, so I have to be pretty careful when it comes to preventing injuries. At this point, I financially can’t afford not to! I used to be super susperstititious, but I think I have found a balance now. That said, you better know I knock on wood just in case!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Marathon Mindset: What The Marathon Means for MeMy Profile

  • Tina Muir September 30, 2014, 7:27 am

    Each and every one of these are important Meri, and I definitely make sure to keep track of all of these…..although we have talked about my menstrual cycle, and my dizziness the last few days has made me think that it is trying to come back! Only time will tell. I think these reasons are a big part of why you do not get injured, especially as you listen to your body. I don’t like talking about it either as I feel like I will jinx myself too!
    Tina Muir recently posted…Meatless Monday: Kale, Butternut Squash and Feta SaladMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 30, 2014, 12:35 pm

      It’s quite possible you are right. The other night I was feeling a bit dizzy and off for me and I realized that I was due any second. Sure enough I woke up the next morning with the answer. I don’t enjoy it while I run but I am glad when it arrives like clockwork.

      • Lindsay September 30, 2014, 10:04 pm

        And I’m hoping the same!! Come on hormones haha. But In all seriousness, yes to the period!! So important for bone health too

        • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 1, 2014, 10:40 am

          So important. People don’t realize how important it is to have the hormones, like estrogen, circulating around because without it, our bone density suffers.

  • Ashley @ Kickashmom September 30, 2014, 7:42 am

    A guy I work with runs all the time, marathons, trains others for marathons, never turns down a run. He said the reason he doesn’t get hurt is one you hit, pace. He runs at so many different paces with people that it helps his body. Idk why but I think you got something there!
    Ashley @ Kickashmom recently posted…One Sentence Per PictureMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 30, 2014, 12:34 pm

      And I think you are right! Running easy is still running yet it is so much easier on the body and mind than constantly running speed intervals or race pace day after day.

  • Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate September 30, 2014, 8:00 am

    I can always tell when I need new running shoes based on how my knees feel, its crazy! I am really bad at the whole mileage thing and need to get better at building and gaining miles slowly :/

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 30, 2014, 12:33 pm

      Isn’t it funny how we know when it’s time for new sneakers? I can sense the burn out almost immediately from one day to the next.

  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine September 30, 2014, 9:58 am

    I always get so nervous to ever post anything saying how grateful I am to be feeling good/uninjured! It sounds so silly but I feel like every time I turn around I am dealing with something. But I am finally learning the formula to keep myself running healthy. For me I find that when somethings feels off I can usually find a tight spot with the foam roller and work it out pretty well with that. But I also know when my eating gets out of control (meaning not enough good food/vegetables) my body starts to feel it.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…How Do You Measure Progress?My Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 30, 2014, 12:33 pm

      My body totally knows when I have had more cake than sweet potatoes. I can run pretty well on cake and ice cream but I really need the healthy stuff to keep going.

  • Lish September 30, 2014, 1:25 pm

    You are definitely lucky to be injury free. As you know I have had constant problems with injuries and I feel like I “do all the right things”. So frustrating. I definitely think genetics plays into it a bit too. keep up everything you are/are not doing, it seems to work for you!

  • GiGi Eats October 1, 2014, 12:07 am

    I am SO BAD when it comes to PAIN because I IGNORE IT and keep at it!!! Ugh. I know at some point I am going to pay for it, but for right now, I am just going to be thankful that I am not hurt right now and knock on wood!LOL!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Joan Rivers: A Toast To You!My Profile

  • jill conyers October 3, 2014, 5:56 pm

    This is one of the most thorough running tips post ever! Great tips that I wish I would have known when I started running.

    For the record, even the experts don’t 100%. I wish they did!
    jill conyers recently posted…Almost AnorexicMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 5, 2014, 8:40 am

      Thank you, it means a lot to me that you appreciated my thoughts on how to avoid injury. I am no expert but as we say, they don’t know everything anyway.

  • Charlotte October 5, 2014, 10:00 am

    Just found your blog and love it!
    I am a runner too – I run internationally for Great Britain.

    I always have a spoon of peanut or almond butter post run! I carry my jar around with me in my bag. I can’t usually eat a big meal for about an hour after a hard session so a spoon of nut butter and then usually some electolite drink works for me 🙂

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 6, 2014, 12:32 pm

      Aw thanks – I am so glad you found me! I am all for carrying jars of peanut butter with me, it’s best to never be without it!

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets October 5, 2014, 8:20 pm

    These are great tips. My dad runs every single day and has for over twenty years, injury free. He doesn’t run for distance or time, he just puts in a couple of miles every day and it works for him. He also goes through three to four pairs of sneakers a year. He’s kind of my running idol.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 6, 2014, 12:31 pm

      I bet I go through the same amount of sneakers. It’s crazy getting new pairs every two or three months but it’s key to staying injury free and I bet part of why your dad is able to run as much and as often as he does. So terrific.