Runners don’t cope well with injury. From years of experience treating various sports people and athletes at different levels, endurance athletes and, more specifically runners, find it most difficult to cope psychologically with being injured. Advice that they must rest an injury even for two to three days can be devastating for a runner, in a way that doesn’t seem to be the case for most other athletes. There are two distinct groups of runners that we see in practice both of whom are equally devastated by injuries – the novice runner and the competitive runner.
The Novice Runner
The novice runner, perhaps taking up running to fulfil a personal ambition of completing a 10k, half marathon or full marathon is the first type of runner whom we see in practice. Generally these runners are working to a programme and injury forces deviation from this plan which doesn’t sit well with them. Panic can set in that they haven’t, for example, ran greater than 16-18 miles yet and it’s only 6 weeks to the marathon.
The first thing to remember for this group is that you’ve already completed 2-3 months of training and that will stand to you. Avoid talking to more seasoned runners about their preparations. It can heighten panic, if you begin to hear stories of people having run, for example 22 miles at the 6 week to go stage. You need to get your injury assessed initially. Preferably go to a chartered physiotherapist with experience dealing with runners. Very often some physio an appropriate rest period and a slight adaptation to the training programme is all that’s needed to ensure that you get to the starting line.
The Competitive Runner
More competitive runners also deal poorly with injury. This group, often chasing times and placing’s, can’t avoid the feeling that all other athletes are getting ahead of them while they rest up an injury. It’s assumed by this group that for every other runner in the country training is going seamlessly, and there are no niggles, doubts or injury concerns.
Advice to this group similarly is to avoid talking to their peers. This heightens anxiety in relation to missed training sessions. Also know that as a physiotherapy clinic we see lots of runners so your peers are perhaps not having as seamless and injury free time as you’re allowing yourself to believe. The benefit of running being an individual sport is that you compete against yourself. You therefore need to focus on what’s within your locus of control. You can’t influence anyone else’s training so you need to forget about them.
Get your injury assessed by a chartered physiotherapist. Know that they have your recovery and your return to running as their foremost goal. If a rest period is advised, know that this is done so in your best interests and with a view to returning you to training as quickly as possible. Take all professional advice and avoid the dressing room talk with other runners.