Distance runners are patient people. We have to run for hours to reach our goal. We train for months for one race. We know to pace ourselves for the long haul.
You won’t find too many of us trying an all-out sprint halfway through a race, just to see how it feels. Nor will you find many who will run a marathon next week, when we have been training for one three months hence.
So why are we so impatient when we’re injured?
Overuse injuries are the most common running injuries, and I’ll bet overuse is the most common reason for long rehabilitations.
We’re very good at accepting and appreciating advice, from what shoes to wear to what heart rate to shoot for, but we’re very bad at accepting and appreciating the simplest and best piece of advice:
“You need to rest that.”
I’m guilty. I raced to a five-mile PR with minor shin discomfort. Afterwards, it was no longer minor. Now I’m paying the price. I haven’t been able to run without pain for a month.
I know that because instead of resting it, I’ve been testing it once or twice a week. Nothing too taxing, but as soon as it feels better, I go run on it. Now I realize I’m just extending the healing process.
I think the key is to approach an injury the same way you would approach a marathon. The finish line is your old, 100 percent healthy self. Your steady pace is cross-training and rest. Nutrition, hydration, stretching and warm-up are just as important.
As with the marathon, the goal is to reach the finish in the shortest amount of time. To do that, be smart, be steady, and respect the distance.