Jan 4, 2021
Another of the running articles I wrote a few years ago, and another blog post from the world run below. Note, the date on the blog post says Jan 5, 2012. However, due to a lack of access to the internet, it was actually written on the 4th and posted on the 5th. I had some internet problems early on in the world run which, thankfully, I managed to solve pretty quickly.
Coming back from a running injury
An overuse injury is one of the most frustrating afflictions a runner can endure. But the moment that injury has healed is one of the most joyous of times for a runner. Or so it should be. But it’s also a time fraught with danger. It’s not as simple as hopping back on the road when the pain is gone.
Firstly, it’s never as clear-cut as a runner having an injury one day and not the next. Injuries heal gradually and the healing process is rarely fully complete when a runner ventures back on to the road. So how should an injured runner approach this delicate time, when coming back even slightly too early can set the individual back by weeks?
Only the individual can judge when the time is right. The instant there is no pain at all emanating from the previously injured region is obviously an acceptable time, but waiting for that moment can leave a runner sitting around for months longer than may be necessary. Running with some residual pain is usually OK, but how can you tell what pain is acceptable and what will simply lead to an exacerbation of the injury? An appreciation of the healing process can help facilitate an understanding of the pains that can ensue during the comeback stage.
All physical activity leads to some degree of muscular micro tears. An injury is an excessive case of this natural process. It happens when these tears either accumulate over time without adequate daily healing, or occur rapidly (or instantaneously) during a particularly intense training session (for example, a hamstring tear from rapid acceleration).
The aftermath of a muscle tear or strain (a strain is simply a lesser version of a tear) will result in the runner’s body laying down new fibres to strengthen the region. However, this process occurs somewhat haphazardly, with new fibres growing at random angles, overlapping each other, and forming a patchwork of new tissue. This is more commonly known as scar tissue.
As one starts to reuse the injured muscle again, the weak and poorly aligned new fibres will break apart and be reabsorbed by the body, while the properly aligned fibres will be strengthened. This is the phase whereby the scar tissue gradually shrinks away. It’s the breaking of these superfluous muscle fibres that can cause fleeting pain in the inured region. These pains are often interpreted by the runner as a sign the injury has not yet fully healed. In a sense, this is true. Yet a sensible transit through this stage, with a gradual increase in running volume, can result in a more rapid recovery from the injury than would otherwise have been the case.
Every injury exhibits its own peculiarities. It’s simply not possible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all remedy for all injuries a runner may encounter. The injured individual must firstly allow adequate rest time for the injury to initially heal. Once the original pain associated with the injury subsides, a runner can start thinking about getting back on the road.
Sharp but very brief pains – akin to a pinch or pin prick – are a classic sign of a superfluous fibre of scar tissue breaking apart. While the runner should still exercise caution, these pains can usually be run through. However, if the pain is similar to that of the original injury and doesn’t subside quickly during the run, cease running and give yourself more time to recover.
And, even if the pain is due to poorly aligned scar tissue breaking apart, it will still result in some further inflammation. Ice the area when you finish, and keep the distances relatively low until you can run without any pain at all. And don’t forget, if unsure, err on the side of caution.
Jan 5, 2012
Distance today =59.76 km; Total distance = 251.19 km; Location = Middlemarch – 45 30.433′ S, 170 07.383′ E; Start time = 0833, Finish time = 1738.
No internet last night, so no blog post. Just to let everyone know how it works, there are three connections I need each day.
The first is my Garmin watch. This works off satellites, so as long as I am in the open, it will always correctly log my distance and course etc. This is vital for verification of the run.
Next is the transmission of my position. This works off an iPhone app. It gets my position from satellites, but then needs to send it to my web site. This requires mobile phone reception, which I don’t always have. Likewise with the tweets, which are automatically sent to my web site.
Finally, there is the blog, which I’m writing now, along with other web site updates. This requires internet access at the end of the day, which will be hit and miss throughout the run. In summary, don’t be concerned if I fail to update from time to time, even for many days at a time – it simply means I don’t have internet access. And if my tracker is not updating, it means I don’t have mobile phone reception.
As for the run, the last two days have resulted in 48.73 and 49.37 km respectively. Yesterday I had a difficult day – I think I went too hard the day before. Today I felt great. Hopefully the latter will be the norm.
Finally, I’d like to thank two establishments that donated to Oxfam on the spot as I passed through – the Gibbston Valley Cheesery and the Chatto Creek Tavern. Many thanks to you both for your generosity.
Tomorrow I head to Middlemarch, and then on to Dunedin.