Winning the Injury Marathon

Posted by Filed Under: Running Injuries

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.

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on July 27th at 7:01 am

    Quite often, the way to treat an injury is not to rest it, and so we always hope that whatever ails us will be something that we can work through.

    After all, if you are aiming at one specific race that is months down the line (or you have been working months towards) then you do not want to lose the level of fitness you currently enjoy and then not be prepared for that race.

  2. Adeel on July 27th at 9:24 pm

    I think every injury is a bit different and, certainly, as Blaine said, you often have to push through injuries as a serious runner. It’s just part of what you have to do.

    If you get hurt after a race you’ve been targeting for months, big deal. You train to race, not to train. If you get hurt while training for a race you’re targeting, then it’s a bigger problem and a different approach is needed.