Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

How To Comeback From Injury

Right before our way of life in our nation dramatically changed, the Los Angeles Marathon was such a fond memory with friends, family and community. I went through an intense two month cycle to come back from a dog attack on NYE 2019. My body's wounds caused imbalances and physical pain, including nightmares and severely disrupted sleep. I revisited my training principles to create not only a research-based training plan, but also a healing plan. In two months, I came back to my strongest and ran my fastest marathon in seven years. I finished in 3:17 as 44th female in a field of 22,000-- my 75th Boston Qualifier and 145th marathon. With a team of physical therapists and sports medicine chiropractor Dr. Lopez, it was a grind for two months to simply arrive to the start line healthy. Then and now, I am eternally grateful for every step I take.

There are two main causes of injuries: overuse or trauma. Regardless of the cause of injury, the most important approach to coming back from an injury is: 1) allow the injury to fully heal, 2) maintain a plan of self recovery strategies and physical therapy with professionals, and 3) remain fervently dedicated to listening to the cues of your body to avoid an injury again.

There are many ways to approach endurance training as we are inspired by what our friends and elites alike accomplish daily or at their races. It is great to be inspired by our community. However, it is important to remember there is only one you. Your body and mind are unique. There is a unique formula on how to train your body type, your lifestyle, and your mind to reach your goals.


At age 12, I started running as conditioning for my first sport boxing. At age 14, I ran my first marathon then ran competitively in high school. The years of adolescence and 20s were absolutely golden as my body did some amazing things in sixteen years. Then, when I turned 30, it was like I ran into a brick wall. I needed to learn very quickly how to adapt if I wanted to keep up with my ambitions.

Each year and decade, the human body goes through a variety of physiological changes down to the cellular processes, especially at age 30. Some cellular processes do not operate at the level as they do in younger years. However, the beauty of the human body is there are ways to adapt in order to evolve into a stronger, newer form. With endurance sports, the body can go the distance for years to come with the proper adaptations. We need to accept if we want to be in this sport for a lifetime, we must be: PATIENT.

How one cares for the body outside of the sport tremendously impacts how the body recovers, rebuilds, and gets stronger. We need to be more mindful of our quality of sleep, biorhythms, recovery strategies, eating lifestyle, mobility practice, cross training, strength training, meditation, mental visualization, stress and emotional management -- regularly. Who has time for all that other than professional athletes? The secret is finding a rhythm where we can be mindful of each of these components by taking small steps for each one until we create habits and then becomes a lifestyle. We find: BALANCE. 

As an athlete, trainer, and coach, I aim to balance the needs of the body and mind in small ways each day. The more we invest in these aspects of ourselves, the more we have to offer in our relationships, family, and work life. When we strengthen ourselves, we are of better service for others. The greatest distance reached, the fastest runner, the strongest ultra triathlete, all started with a first step. What got them to their big goal was they kept going, even when times got difficult. The third principle, we must be: CONSISTENT.


1) STOP running if you're having any continuous joint or muscular pain (outside of minor muscle soreness). Get it checked out by a medical professional such as your sports medicine chiropractor or primary care physician. Ignoring it or hoping it will go away will not heal it properly.

2) STOP the negative self-talk. This is the opportunity where you can focus on strength exercises, mobility drills, cross training, etc. Everyday will not be easy. Allow yourself the time to release the negative energy in a healthy manner then refocus your mind into a positive space. The positivity is what will help you remain patient and consistent.  

3) START self therapy strategies and physical therapy with professionals. This includes a sports medicine chiropractor, sports massage therapist, acupuncturist, and/or physical therapist. I aim to utilize all the above whether I am injured or not. Given the current circumstances, we are limited in our options; you can still resource online coaching that will guide you through adaptive training that can help tremendously. It is about prevention as much as maintenance to help you remain balanced

4) START cross training once cleared by your medical practitioner. Cross training includes non impact cardio, strength circuits, mobility exercises, core work, yoga, etc. These in the end will help you become an overall balanced and more powerful runner. Then the guidance of a personal trainer or coach can help guide you through the proper training cycles that are periodized for your body and lifestyle. You may hear often others say to the injured: "Rest and you will come back stronger." This is partly true. The complete statement is: Rest from running while you work on your weaknesses/imbalances then you will come back stronger.

5) START a training plan and training log. A plan will help you create a rhythm to be balanced in your training. A training log will help you reflect what is working and what is not. Whether you have a specific time goal, qualify for Boston, or rediscover a new fitness routine while avoiding injury, a plan and log will help you reach it in a balanced and consistent way. If a results-oriented training plan is too time consuming to create, hire a coach to help you. Training plans help create habits, achieve results, and provide accountability on what to do, when to do it, and in what doses for an optimal performance for you. Not matter what: give yourself the gift of movement of at least 30 minutes / day for your health. A walk is better than no walk at all.


An injury can be morally debilitating. We become afraid of the injury to resurface. We become deflated throughout the healing process. Be patient, balanced and consistent. Finally, be positive. That is what will get you out the door, even when it's hard. Need the guidance and accountability to you get there? Email me your three goals and let's get started on your journey to health, clarity, and mental growth through this challenging time. 


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