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The vicious cycle of injury

How pushing through pain can result in full-blown injury

The beginning of an injury is a critical period. During this time, a runner has usually developed a nagging pain that hasn’t taken them out of running entirely, but is lingering. This pain can usually be cleared up quickly if attended to properly, or it can develop into a full-blown injury if it’s pushed through.

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The cycle looks something like this: a runner wakes up and walks with pain but convinces themself that a run is a good idea. During the first few kilometres things are feeling rough, but by the time the runner reaches their last couple clicks, they’re finally feeling good. Because the runner feels good by the end of the run, this reinforces that it was a good idea in the first place. The next day they wake up sore again.

RELATED: What injury taught Lanni Marchant

Former Canadian record holder Lanni Marchant has dealt with significant injury and illness in the past two years. As she stages her comeback, Marchant says that her activation, or pre-hab, is more important than the run itself. “If it’s a travel day and I don’t have time for both, I choose the pre-hab over the run. I see it as more important now.” The runner has also become more aware of the surface she runs on. “I’ll drive a good distance now just to make sure that I’m running on softer surfaces. My ideal surface is a soft trail, but nothing technical. Something like the Beltline [in Toronto] is ideal.” Now Marchant says that the time she spends doing this pre-hab is almost more important than the run itself.

RELATED: Charles Philibert-Thiboutot smashes Quebec record in first race post-injury

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot is another example of a runner who has over come injury and learned about the importance of respecting the body. He tweeted earlier this year, “Yesterday for the first time in my career I opted to take a day off after some aches, that appeared with the heavy training load, were more and more acting like actual injuries rather than training aches. There’s a fine line in pushing your body from soreness and injury. It was an incredibly hard thing to do, after five weeks of consistent training, to consent to take a day off when it wasn’t on the plan.”

While taking an unscheduled off day is a hard thing for runners to do, especially in the midst of a build, if the body is hurting it’s important to listen and break the cycle.

RELATED: The 10 emotional stages of an injured trail runner

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