Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Sunday, May 3, 2015

How To Train Coming Back From An Injury

Dropping My Marathon Time From 3:37 to 3:25 in 5 weeks without Running

I recognize my work ethic. I also recognize my weaknesses and try to work on them daily. Therefore, I aim to balance the needs of the body, mind, and spirit because the more we invest in these three aspects of ourselves, the more we have to offer in our relationships, family, and work. How can we serve others when we have not served and strengthened ourselves first? Self-care is not a luxury or a hashtag of a Sunday trend. It needs to be a necessity for overall healthy living -- an investment in improving a higher quality of life. 

Part of being a lifelong runner or physically active is taking care of multiple aspects of our well being. You do not need to be a professional runner or athlete to prioritize these aspects of training. With the right training plan and efficient training sessions, you can devote 30-60min per weekday to your training and have great results. Add one longer training session in the weekend and you are set. It is what you do in between, it is what you do within that training session, and how CONSISTENT you are. Now if you have more ambitious goals, then you have to devote more ambitious time. Where there is a will there is a way. We all get 24 hours in the day. What we need to ask ourselves more often is not if I can do it, but what am I willing to do to make it happen.

There are two main causes of injuries: overuse or trauma. Regardless of what was the cause of the injury, the most important approach to coming back from your injury is to allow your injury to heal, have it checked by a medical professional as you return to your training routine, and remain fervently dedicated to balancing your body to avoid an overuse injury again -- or more cautious if it was a trauma injury.

There are many ways to approach our training. As running has evolved in the past couple decades, we have a variety of types of runners with many characteristics that overlap. One thing we all have in common: we love running or we really, really enjoy it. Therefore to continue to do what we love and enjoy it with a healthy body. We need to be mindful on how we train for our specific body types, lifestyles, current fitness, and future goals. There is a huge amount of very useful information out there, sometimes confusing as it can be contradictory at times. My advice is read, read, read, research as much as you can to test and trial what works best for you. If you do not have the time for this, the alternative is hiring a coach/mentor you trust to lead you the way. With over 20 years of competitive running and 10 years of coaching runners and triathletes of all levels, it has become a joy to guide and coach runners to their goals. 

Here are some tips if you have an injury sneaking up on you:

1) If you're having any joint or muscular pain (other than muscle soreness) anywhere, STOP running. Get it checked out by your medical professional such as your sports medical chiropractor or primary care physician. Do not pretend the joint pain isn't there or will magically go away by running through it. 

2) STOP with the negative thinking and the "world is over" since I cannot run. There is still A LOT you can do if you cannot run for the time being. Trust me when I say it is hard to not do something we take so much great pleasure in or else I would not have been a runner for 20 years now. Allow yourself the time to release the negative energy and refocus your mind to be positive because it is positive thinking that will propel you into action to do what it takes to fix this injury.  

3) START physical therapy immediately. That includes with your physical therapist, sports medical chiropractor, sports massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc. I do all the above whether I am injured or not. I see all of them very frequently if I am injured or feel any aches or pains in order to avoid any serious injury. It also helps speed the healing process. It can be costly; however, ask yourself how bad to I want to run again pain free? 

4) START cross training approved by your medical practitioner and/or coach as long as you have no pain at the point of injury. This cross training includes non impact cardio, strength training, mobility exercises, core, etc. There is so many things we can do while we are not running that we tend to neglect. These in the end will help you become an overall balanced and more powerful runner. You may hear often others tell you while you are injured: "Rest and you will come back stronger." This is partly true. The complete statement is: "Rest from running and work on your weaknesses that you have been neglecting in order to come back stronger -- and you WILL." 

5) START being positive about your outlook on healing and recovery. An injury or multiple injuries can be very morally debilitating. We can be afraid to cause an injury again. We can become deflated throughout the healing process because it isn't happening as fast as we would like. Be patient. Be positive. Be focused. There is a huge physiological effect that occurs when we are positive. It strengthens the immune system and fosters the biological processes in your body to heal. Believe it. The more you believe it, it will get stronger. Repeat it every single morning: I WILL HEAL, 100 times if you have to. Research and hospital studies have shown study after study that when we remain positive, have faith in anything stronger than you, it propels you to heal faster and a side effect is you are more inclined to do things to help your healing process. Be positive even when it's hard. 

* Need a coach to help you reach your running or triathlon goals this season? Let me guide you the right way and that finish line will not only be earned but you will end up surprising yourself of your fullest potential. Email me at your three goals and we can get started. 


  1. Great write up!
    I love the "Note" about running not being the cause of injury, overuse is. Early this year I was feeling great in my training, unstoppable...until an overuse injury occurred. Fortunately I was able to determine it was an overuse injury and it was minor and most importantly I didn't ignore it and was able to recover in time for LA. Your thoughts about being lucky also resonated with me; one of my favorite youtube videos, is a Nike video, Rise and Shine, in it, there’s a part that says, “Luck is the last dying wish of those who want to believe that winning can happen by accident. Sweat on the other hand is for those who know it’s a choice.” It’s all about the effort you put in.
    Great advice on how to come back from injury.
    One question I have for you is about doctors and when to believe them. Where can runners find doctors that support our sport and lifestyle of running? I’ve found that while most doctors encourage cardio exercise, when the topic of a marathon is brought up, they’re less than supportive and when asked what to do with a running injury they often tell their patients to find another sport. Walk, instead of run. Swim or cycle instead of run. They very rarely tell you what you need to do to get back to running. When I had my first overuse injury 2 months before the 2010 LA Marathon, I couldn’t run, I tried, but it was painful. My doctor told me I shouldn’t run, which is good immediate advice. When I asked him when I could try running again, all he said was to rest and take it easy and only run when it didn’t hurt anymore. When I told them that I was training to run a marathon, he told me that it could lead to problems with my knees and that I should try something less extreme. I didn’t change my mind about training for a marathon but I did change my goal. I ditched my time goal and said I just want to be able to complete the race and also be a tourist along the course enjoying the sights and taking pictures. I recovered with yoga and strength training and eventually cardio in the form of elliptical machines and eventually running. I didn’t complete a long run further than 6 miles. I crossed the finish line and as expected my legs and feet were tired but I did not make my injury worse, in fact, I felt stronger. It was this experience that taught me the importance of cross training, and especially the importance of core work and flexibility.
    I have one more question. What are the poker chips for when “flying” like Superman?
    Thanks for writing about your running experiences, both good and bad.

    1. Thank you for the feedback! When it comes to finding the right doctor, I can understand that it can be difficult. Remember if you are unhappy with one then get a second and third opinion. For an active athlete, it is best to go with a doctor who is active themselves so they can be more understanding and suggest the right therapy for you. Also open yourself to seeing other specialists such as chiropractors, sports therapists, and/or acupuncturists. You have to search and find what the best combo is for you. I try and do all the above because I want to maximize my healing. It's more costly so it just depends what is within your budget.

      The poker chips are used to count our rounds. In CrossFit, we do high intensity shorter cycles so we count our rounds with chips so we don't lose count. Usually these cycles are about 8-10min long and that is long enough because all of us just usually collapse after each round. It's all about pushing yourself very hard for shorter amounts of time.

  2. These are all true. The trick is to not let yourself be dragged down and bummed out too much by your injuries. Instead, focus on what you can do to recover quickly, and learning what you did wrong and how you can avoid it in the future. Anyway, it’s nice that you’ve figured these things out, and have found a way to pursue your passion without pushing yourself past the breaking point. Good luck, and have fun!

    Emmett Fletcher @ CK Physio

  3. Yes, always check with your doctor. This couldn't be stressed enough. These routines are all okay, but if your injuries still linger or hasn't stayed healed for a length of time, then it’s best to go to a doctor first than the gym. It's a cliché, but it's best to be safe than sorry.

    Agnes Lawson @ Pain Relief Experts

  4. I ignored the pain in my left heel and ended up with a bad case of plantar fasciitis. My heel was constantly hurting, especially in the morning, and it started to affect how I walked and ran. My doctor said I should have stopped running as soon as the pain started and sought out treatment - live and learn.

    Tyron Tanaka @ Low And Canata

  5. Do you want how to prevent your knees from injuries? If so, read this article - it can be found at! Secondly, if you train a lot, always check with your doctor!

  6. i also will be patience for that kind of injury! But now i am doing Very well for recovering it...