Marathon Training 2019 Day 59: What Do You Do When You Feel An Injury Coming On

Rockburn Trail pic 1 small version“As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

I’ve had a slight setback in my training. An old injury has creeped up again. I thought I was forever in the clear with this one, but it has creeped back in to my life. Over ten years ago I developed plantar fasciitis in both feet, which kept me out of running for nine months. Fortunately, I learned effective strategies to not only address this issue, but to keep it from significantly coming back, and as a result I have had my best times in the marathon since then.

However, earlier this week I noticed some soreness in my heels (one telltale sign of plantar fasciitis). This may be the result of muscle tightness from the hill sprints I have been performing and I may not have been doing enough to address this muscle tightness.

So, instead of pushing ahead with my running on Tuesday and Wednesday, I decided not to run, and I spent more time than I usually do focusing on the plantar fascia and calf muscles. This included lacrosse and softball rolling on the plantar fascia to break up scar tissue, one-minute static stretches (did not enjoy these!) for the calf muscles, lacrosse and softball rolling on the calf muscles, and eccentric single-leg calf raises.

Fortunately, by today the soreness I had been experiencing was gone. So, I decided to ease back into running. So, I did a very easy run with my friend Sam for ~4 miles. My feet felt fine during the run. Immediately after my run I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~60 seconds for each leg)
  • Prone planks (~45 seconds)
  • Side planks (~40 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~30 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions + hold for 30 seconds after last repetition)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

After these exercises I did one-minute static stretches for the calf and hamstring muscles. Throughout the day I did lacrosse ball rolling on my plantar fascia. In the evening I did more rolling on the calf muscles.

Tip of the Day: If you experience an injury don’t try to push through. Address this injury as soon as possible. You might first try taking a couple days off from running to see if the situation improves. If it hasn’t improved by the third day, I recommend seeking the opinion of a qualified healthcare professional. If the situation improves ease back into your running. As I mentioned in a previous post, you should feel at least 85-90% well before you resume your running. For long runs and runs with speed or hill work, you should feel 100% well. If not, run 30-45 minutes easy (as long as you feel at least 85% well). You will most likely have to adjust your training plan as well. For example, I have a 12 mile run scheduled in three days, but instead will most likely do 5-6 miles at an easy pace. Nip injuries in the bud early, so that you can (hopefully) address them quickly and resume your training. Otherwise, the injury may become significantly worse and you may not be able to run for an extended period of time. Like what happened to me about ten years ago. Trust me that approach is not worth it!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help.

Don’t let injuries keep you from achieving your running goals this year.

Your friend and coach,