I’M INJURED, NOW WHAT?
In the course of training for events such as marathons and triathlons, injuries of various natures are bound to occur. The question often asked is, “Should I continue my training?” The answer is not simple.
Step 1: Self Evaluation
Perform a self-evaluation to determine the cause of the injury. Was it an overuse injury (training too hard and/or too much)? Was it an impact or fall causing a sprain or strain? A pulled muscle?
Once you have determined the source of the injury, determine the severity. Does it hurt all the time? Or, does it slowly manifest itself during training (possible overuse injury)? Is it limited to a particular limb or joint, or is it something more debilitating (resulting from a fall)?
Step 2: Seek Professional Help
If it is an overuse injury, visit a masseuse, neuromuscular therapist, or chiropractor. Additionally, seek the advice of a coach or trainer who has experience in the field. If it is a sprain or break, what does your doctor advise?
Step 3: Develop a Recovery Plan
Most injuries heal themselves with time and rest. Often times, you can speed the process with stretching and ice or heat, aided with over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.
How close is the event for which you are training? Often we can get frenzied about this timeline, but in most cases taking 1-2 weeks off from training will not affect your current fitness level. You can take time off and still be OK for your big day.
As you re-introduce training, remind yourself that you were just injured. A conservative approach of slowly adding in workouts will go much farther than jumping back in as if nothing happened, regardless of how good you feel. Rule of thumb: The amount of time out is the amount of time you should give yourself to re-acclimate to training. For example, if you were out one week, give yourself a minimum of one week to re-adjust.
The Big Picture
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we are forced to sit out events that we may have paid for in advance. This is both unfortunate and frustrating. It’s tough to make the decision NOT to race, but it’s the best regarding your health and well-being. The big picture is your long term health and well-being – far more important than participating in an event when you are at a fraction of your best and risking further injury.