Monday, July 16, 2012

Injury Recovery - A Mental Game

Hello Runners!,
For those of us who have gone through major/significant injuries - or at least injuries that have kept us sidelined for a week or more - it would be obvious for me to say that injury recovery is as much mental recovery as physical.  The biggest questions that loom for runners recovering from injury is "How soon is too soon?" and "How much is too much?"  These perplexing questions can wreak havoc with a runners injury recovery attempt.

In my personal opinion, injuries can often be compounded by a runner starting to run too soon, or doing too much running before a full recovery.  The decision on when to come back from an injury and how soon to get back into full training mode is one that that I, as well as many runners I'm sure, struggle with.  For any somewhat serious runner who is training for a goal race or goal time, the decision on when to start training again and in what capacity that training entails is a fine line.  I want to both maximize my recovery time and minimize my time off.  Of course, these are opposing thoughts - repelling magnets, a contradiction of ideas - if I say so myself.

What percentage of recovery should a runner be at in order to begin training again?  100%?  90%  If I feel my knee is 75% recovered, is that enough?  It's my goal to rest long enough as to not re-aggravate my injury, yet get back to running as soon as possible as to minimize the amount of training I miss.  Sure I could wait until I feel my knee is 100% better, but is that necessary?  Would it be worth an extra 2-3 weeks of not running when I could probably be running on it at 85-90% without much worry of re-aggravation?  Taking off too much time can significantly affect a runners fitness and hurt ones chances of accomplishing a seasons running goals.  On the flip side, if a runner starts running again with an injury at only 60-70%, with slight pain or discomfort - is the runner risking a significant injury again?  Would I be best to just take an extra week off to get the injury to 90% so they can do more significant training instead of short, easy runs only 2-4 days a week?  Making these decisions aren't easy, and no one wants to be constantly sidelined because they repeatedly get injured.  Finding that fine line between recovering from an injury and maximizing your training is a key to finding success in accomplishing your running goals.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.  What are your thoughts on injury recovery?

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