I recently wrote on the need for rest as I have been dealing with a few nagging issues that finally
forced me to just stop and desist – take a rest. The conclusion was that we all need to rest before we are broke but I had not heeded my own thoughts so now I am on the way back after two weeks of no running. The point I want to focus on, and the reason for the article title, is that it is not enough just to rest but coming back from an injury also takes as much patience, maybe even more, than the rest itself. Thus the recovery that follows a rest period needs to be as purposeful as the rest was.
I initially thought I was getting Plantar Fasciitis but after two weeks off and coming back for a short run it is pretty clear I have Achilles Tendonitis as the soreness is at the base of my heel. I am also struggling with a sciatic issue, seems to be Piriformis Syndrome, that can give intermittent and sporadic shooting pains that are, well, a “PAIN.” The sciatic issue is just something I have had for some time and not directly related to running but does at times affect it and I need to work at dealing with it via a number of methods.
This first day back I figured I would take an easy run/walk with the dog to see how things felt and while the run went OK afterwards my heel was a little sore, but not as it was before. The message was clear; that I needed to take it easy and not rush back. When I was younger and had an injury, and I had quite a few, I could come back pretty quick and jump right back into things. However, with age comes the need for caution and patience two things I have never been really good at but need to lean now as I get older or things will not move forward as they should.
While I truly believe we can do way more with our bodies than most people realize as we age we do have limits and those limits increase, or at the least become more evident, as we get older. With the recovery phase of rest and returning to running the wise approach is to come back slow and carefully. Also, the recovery phase is a great time to evaluate how you got to where you are. With me it is a realization that the lack of mobility and strength I have had for much of my running career, but was able to overcome with youth, can no longer be overlooked. The truth is that as we age we all lose mobility and strength and while some loose it more slowly in the end we all loose it. The good news is while it is clear we all loose mobility, flexibility and strength we can do something about it but it takes time and in taking time it takes a purposefulness.
Part of this purposefulness is setting time aside for the extra work it will take to be injury free. If you are like me, with only so much time in a day and week, you will need to trade running time for all the other important things. Now you can do as I have had a habit of and put it off telling myself I need the miles, or time on my feet, but being honest with myself if I factor in my injury time I would have just as many miles, probably more, due to the extra non-running work having the result of being injury free if I traded some miles for extra side work.
For me this means my recovery phase is going to be slower than I have had in the past. First, because achilles issues take a lot of care to come back from and second because I do not have a race I am aiming for till March, Land Between the Lakes 50 Miler, so I have no need to push things. Thus, my MAF). If for some reason things do not feel right I can trade a run for a ride on the bike trainer if need be. I still have a possible 30K I will only do in mid November as a training run if all the pain is gone since not worth the possibility of making things worse but it is more than likely I will pass on it.
plan is to only run every other day to start and on the off days do some strength and mobility work. On the running days I will start at 2 -5 miles of running, and walking if necessary, with a focus on running easy within my usual aerobic heart rate number (
The other thing I have started, and will write on when I am done, is taking part in The Balanced Runner Online Camp. In my look at a number of running programs such as Chi Running and the modules at the Natural Running Center I came across The Balanced Runner. What drew me to The Balanced Runner, a program that uses the Feldenkrais Method applied to running, is that rather than focusing on form and how to run focuses on make more natural connections between ones body and mind so you can feel more than do. For me this will be tough as I am a “just tell me what to do” kind of person and Feldenkrais looks more to one sensing how one moves. In the end I think that this will all connect and many of the principles of Natural running and Chi Runner will show themselves. The difference is that starting with the method can end up causing its own issues but starting with ones movement and sensing changes can get one to a more ‘natural” running form with little chance of injury. More to come on this later but it looks to me to be integral to coming back stronger and more resilient than before.
I share all of this as I am sure there are others like me that when we are finally forced to rest we then want to come back as fast as possible fearful that we will lose our fitness. Yes, with multiple weeks off you will lose something but I think you will find that you lose less than you think and if you come back too fast and have to rest more you will lose even more fitness than if you had come back slowly. So, I will still be keeping my miles lower than I would have done in the past with a focus on easing back into things. I also have some trips to the Chiropractor in store to have some adjustments done and also to undergo some Active Release Technique (ART) treatments, which I have found to be very beneficial. With the first race I am aiming for being in early March I do not need to start upping my miles till mid November to early December so still have time to rest and even then I will make sure that I keep up the extra strength and mobility work.
If you take anything away from this let it be: “Rest is only Part of Recovery”