While I certainly am not a physician, this biblical proverb is resonating strongly with me at the moment. I can add “practice what you preach” to that because recently I was guilty of “do as I say, not as I do.” Now I’m paying the price.
If I Had a Dollar…
…for every time I recommended that someone be conservative in returning to sport after an injury, I’d have lots of dollars. When my running friends ask my opinion about whether or not they should participate in a race while they are still recovering, I usually say that it’s better to recover fully and live to race another day.
A Minor Injury
I have come to love trail running not only for the beautiful scenery I get to enjoy, but also for the way it improves my road running. The uneven surface of trails challenges the stabilizing muscles of the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Since I’ve incorporated trail running I have noticed my ankles are stronger. I’ve had times where I stepped on an uneven surface and rolled my ankle thinking I was going to have an injury, only to find it didn’t hurt at all. That wasn’t the case this particular day. I stepped oddly on a rock, rolled my ankle and shouted “[expletive] That was bad!”
What I Should Have Done
I was at a point in my running route where I could have turned around and walked just over a mile back home OR continue with my original plan which would add another two and a half miles to the total. I decided to do the right thing and started walking the short route home. But after walking a bit, I decided my foot and ankle didn’t feel bad at all, so I turned around and ran the rest of my originally planned route. When I got home, there was a tiny bit of swelling on the outside of my ankle, but nothing terrible. So I whipped up an aromatherapy blend of oils known to support healing and calm inflammation and massaged them gently around the area of swelling. By that evening the swelling was gone, but my ankle was a little stiff. So I decided to do some gentle range of motion and take it easy for the next few days. I have a 10k at the end of the month that I want to be 100% healthy for.
Breaking My Own Rules
That Saturday, I met with a group of running friends at a beautifully scenic route. I explained that I was going to take it easy and just walk and that I would meet up with them afterwards. Which I did, until I didn’t. At one point when I could barely see the group ahead in the distance I thought, “Well, I will just run to the next corner.” No pain, so I decided I would alternate running and walking. I finished my run/walk and felt great. I had post-run coffee with my friends and came home feeling satisfied. Then I took off my shoes and socks to find my ankle was not only swollen worse than the day of the original injury, but also bruised. My impatience resulted in unnecessary secondary tissue damage.
It is a minor injury, and I am confident that I will heal fully in time for my 10k. But ONLY if I take the time to do active recovery and ONLY if I have the patience to not add insult to injury. Better to recover now and live to race another day!