running

Why We Rest: Injury

Sitting in frustrated pain, I’m elevating my foot. A week before a race, a race I’ve been planning for for months, training for through a harsh winter, running for indoors just to get the miles in — and a simple, stupid misstep means I’m going to miss out.

Injury happens.

In over a decade of running I’ve sat out a half dozen races with pulled muscles, tweaked knees, cramped calves, inflamed arches, or stinging sciatic nerve pain. It can be lingering in the background, warning of impending failure. Or it can sneak up and leap out of a dark corner of good intentions and leave you angry and frustrated at the lack of warning.

Today I’m nursing a bruised — maybe even broken — toe.

I don’t know for certain. I could — should — go see a doctor and have an x-ray done, and perhaps that is even the most sensible thing. It’s not pride or laziness that keeps me away. I’ve been here before and they’ll just say “stay off it for a couple weeks.” So instead I’ll just look at the purple, tender tarsal that is ringing up my leg with pain with every step I take and realize that I probably just need to rest. No doctor required.

History tells me more bad news: this means the chance I’ll be in shape for a half marathon in five days is deeply, sadly, frustratingly unlikely.

Injury happens, and rest is often the only recourse. “Stay off it for a couple weeks.” Forget about running, at least.

Tackling some household maintenance, I stepped off a stool and clipped the edge of it with my pant leg. I watched in slow motion as the stool lost its balance and rocked over, landing with a crack on my big toe. Blood. Pain. Some PG-13 language uttered in the presence of my daughter. And a day later I’m sporting a purple shade and barely able to pull a sock over my foot, let alone walk.

This just means that racing through icy winter roads to do a half marathon is on hiatus this year.

It also means that I need to remind myself that sometimes the most important part of training is taking some time off. To rest.

How to Injury (with Style)

  1. Yeah… “stay off it for a couple weeks.”
  2. Take up a low impact sport for a change: swimming or some light spin.
  3. Write about it on social media.
  4. No, really… “stay off it for a couple weeks.” It sucks but you’re injured because you’re [insert one: tired, sick, over-training, imbalanced, clumsy] and probably need a few days off.
  5. Adjust your diet: injured doesn’t mean sit on the couch and each nacho chips instead of working out.