What Not to Do When Returning to Running After an Injury

Follow these What NOT to Do When Returning To Running After an Injury rules so you can get back to running for good! | happyfitmama.com

By now, I’m sure you have all seen I’m back to running. OMG – it feels absolutely marvelous!

But I’m really not back to running.

Or at least not back to running like I had been before my injury.

My current state of running is oh so very different. But of course, it’s going to be. I mean – HELLO! – I couldn’t run a step 2 months ago without wincing in pain.

About a week and a half ago, I was discharged from physical therapy. I had been run/walking for approximately 3 weeks with no return of pain. At my last appointment my PT had me do a series of tests to check out my strength and flexibility. For the most part, my strength and flexibility has doubled since starting Iontophoresis. Yay! The biggest part that I need to work on is confidence in my foot. Jumping on my left foot makes me hesitant. I’m afraid it’s going to give out and crumble underneath me.

What NOT to do when returning to running after an injury.

When I had my first taste of running again after 6 months off, I got hungry. Really hungry.  And greedy. In my head I was looking at running all the miles and all the races.

Maybe I’ll be able to run a 5k at Halloween? Maybe I’ll do a Turkey Trot? Maybe I’ll be able to do a half marathon in early December? What marathon should I run in the Spring?

My crazy runner brain took over! I wanted it all.

Whoa Nelly! Just stop right there!

I need to STOP looking forward. I need to stay in the mile that I’m in. If it works in a race situation, it will work in returning to running after an injury, right?

The last thing I need to do is to re-injure myself, or worse yet, get a new injury, so I’m *trying* to following what not to do when returning to running after an injury.

Don’t go too fast, too long or too quickly. Instead, my mantra will be – Go slow, go short. Increase gradually. Patience will hopefully be my BFF. Don’t forget about cross training – it will only make you stronger.

Don’t stop physical therapy exercises! I’m pretty diligent about my PT exercises although not all of them as often as I should. With my long list of injuries from the past year, I’ve got a LOT of exercises. Just because I’m feeling good, they still need to be done like it’s my job. I need to remember that they are also preventive exercises!

Don’t compare pre-injury to post-injury. There was a time, not long ago, when I could run a 20 miler and have zero leg fatigue at the end. Now, I run 3 miles total (with a 1/4 mile walk break in between) and my legs are sore for two days. It saddens me to think of how much endurance and strength I’ve lost. I know eventually I’ll return to “old me” workouts and times. In the meantime, I need to only focus on how much I’ve progressed in this “training” cycle. Because injury recovery really is what I’m training for right now.

Don’t ignore injury symptoms. Last week, my left calf was feeling really tight which made my Posterior Tib Tendon feel tight. It made me nervous, so I backed off from running entirely for a few days. I foam rolled, used The Stick and stretched like crazy. Thankfully, everything is feeling back to normal now. I’ve learned that if I feel any of my old injury symptoms AT ALL, I need to address it. It may mean not running or even take going back to the distance/time that I was running two weeks ago. It’s not the END. Most likely, I’m avoiding anything serious by catching it early and avoiding any type of regression.

Bosu Single leg Balance | happyfitmama.com

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from being injured: Be grateful for every step that you can run. A 1/4 mile of running lifts my soul and brightens my day. It does more for me mentally and physically than any other activity. Nothing compares! Don’t get greedy and want more, more, more. More will come with time.

I look forward to all the runs that I can do. I know what it’s like not to run so I’m holding on to every stride I can take. And if you are wondering what it’s like, you can read all about it HERE.

I remind myself daily that this is temporary. I will be back to “my old self” one day. Hopefully, a much stronger, less injury prone, self.

What other What NOT to do’s am I missing?

26 comments on “What Not to Do When Returning to Running After an Injury

  1. This is specific to us in bloggy world but don’t compare your journey to anyone else out here! It’s easy to read posts and see how one person my be rehabbing (or training, or running, etc.) and shift your thoughts to “maybe I can too!” That is a bad idea. I think you get that but just a gentle reminder because we can all get sucked into that!!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – Right Up Until Race DayMy Profile

  2. This is what I like to see! I’ve learned the hard way that return from injury time is the time to be patient and not set any race goals, at least not in the short term. It’s just asking for trouble. Instead, you can just be grateful to be out there and enjoy the steps you take. You’re in the right head space!
    misszippy recently posted..My podcast is live!My Profile

  3. One of the hardest things about coming back post-injury or time off is remembering what we used to do. It’s tough. It doesn’t help that we blog about our training, so we’re faced with old posts about long runs and speed work and tempo, oh my! Sounds like you’re being really smart about recovery and enjoying what you can do right now.
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted..What Went On in OctoberMy Profile

  4. I’m so happy that you had graduated from PT and are back to running. And this post is something that I will need to reference all the time as I start to make my way back. Not comparing is the hardest. It’s hard to see someone making faster progress than you in injury recovery and not then try to push it yourself. Definitely something I need to keep in mind!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..What you need to know about hands-on adjustments in yoga classMy Profile

  5. I’m so happy to hear that you’re back to running! It is so hard to get back after injury, not in terms of motivation, but definitely in terms of comparing to prior fitness or others. You’re being so smart about the whole process – keeping up with PT exercises is no fun (at least in my experience) but important!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted..Mile Markers, 10/26/15 – 11/1/15My Profile

  6. These tips are so true!

    After coming back from my injury, it was so frustrating to start at 1 minute of walking and 4 minutes of running for 30 minutes total. And seeing my 5k times this summer, even a year after coming back, I figured I’d be right back where I was before injury — ummm not so much! I think that’s the hardest lesson to learn is that you’ll come back stronger and most likely a better overall runner, but you definitely won’t be faster or even close to it.

    Also, keeping up with the physical therapy exercises is key, yes yes yes! During training for Chicago my hip was acting up (and still is afterwards) and my PT is housed in my gym, thankfully, and asked me if I was still doing my exercises. Oops. Lesson learned!

    Glad to see you back running 🙂 Don’t rush it; easier said than done!
    Brittany recently posted..2016 Goal Race(s) DecidedMy Profile

  7. Yay for being back but you are taking a good and SMART approach which you already know!! Those calves can be beasts and are always the cause of my post tib tendinits as well and rest is always the thing that helps me when it flares. I’m also very guilty of not continuing PT exercises when I know I should do them all of the time!! Great to see you back!

  8. All very good thoughts on this topic. Especially the PT exercises. I have been lax on mine and definitely feeling it now. Shame on me! I’m glad to hear you are on the upswing and starting back to running the smart way!
    It sure takes time, and it feels like no progress is being made sometimes, but step by step you will get there after an injury!
    Lisa @ TechChick Adventures recently posted..Happy Halloween Highlights!My Profile

  9. I need to book mark this! I am glad you are feeling better and practicing patience 🙂
    I did well in the beginning after my injury, but I have been a bit greedy lately and my Tibia reminds me…
    karen recently posted..Goodbye OctoberMy Profile

  10. Yay!! I am so, so happy for you!! This is the best news and I know you must be elated!! Great advice here and I think of it as my PT exercises, strength and core come first. Right now that is most important for me and then running is icing on the cake. Isn’t it funny how injury changes you? I would have thought running 1 mile is no big deal in the past. Now I know each step, each mile is a blessing. Thrilled for you!! Xx

  11. Great post, and definitely agree. I think one of the biggest for maintenance and continued progress is to KEEP doing the PT exercises. It’s like when you get sick and the doctor tells you to keep taking the meds until they’re gone- even if you are feeling better. The exercises make you stronger, adding in running and training again can start to chip away at that strength a bit (rebuilding!) so keeping up with the exercises while adding in training is so important to STAY healthy. You also see faster progress that way, most of the time at least!
    Laura recently posted..Pumpkins in the Park 2015: Lumberladies!My Profile

  12. I’m kind of in the same boat…not a running injury but I broke my left humerus 11 weeks ago, so I went close to 6 weeks doing little to no running. Now I’m back to running short distances (I rarely go over 4 miles) and I leave my watch at home. It was tough at first but I’ve come to grips with the process and am going to do my best to be patient. Good luck as you work your way back up to speed!

  13. Definitely listen to your body. After injuries, we need to remember to take pain very seriously. I’m glad your physical therapy has worked and you’re back at it now!!

  14. this was so good for me to read. i tore my hip flexor training for my last half in the fall of 2015. and i’ve just started getting ready to train again. i ran two miles tonight and could feel my hip flaring up again and was sitting here bummed and discouraged. i want nothing more than to run another half in the spring, but am terrified of re-injuring myself.

Comments are closed.