So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Breakdown...Go Ahead, Give It To Me

There is the occasional morning when I awaken a little more stiffly than I would prefer.  Something which makes my wife and I both chuckle, especially on Sunday mornings is to repeat the tag-line from a favorite viral video of ours: "I am a marathon runner...I must run...I am injured..."  If you've not seen this's definitely not for children.

Within the last year - after several years of abject stupidity, foolishness and plain mule-headedness - the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.  You can only kick the can so far down the road, progress from one overuse injury to the next, before the woman's side of the discussion in the video makes sense.  You realize, yes, you are an idiot for trying to run through injuries. 

It seemed like the right thing to do...someone asked whether I ascribed to the "no pain, no gain" school of coaching.  I told them, "discomfort is okay, but pain is no way."

But what now frustrates me is when I encounter runners who suffer from an overuse injury; to hear them talk, one would assume they were professionals, their livelihood would be at risk if they did not run.  Nearly half of all runners are hurt at any given time, and over eight of every ten will suffer from an injury within their lifetime.  And while there are some biomechanical abnormalities which predispose us to injury, most running injuries are the result of a screw-up on our own part; environment, equipment, or execution.

When the injury happens I tell athletes that rehabilitation, not (race) preparation, has become their goal.  While I like to leave the major medical decision-making to the persons who have initials following their names, I believe a series of simple questions can break down the breakdown to one or more causes which can be remedied with little expense.  This fault logic diagram (a thumbnail sketch of Dr. Timothy Noakes' "Lore of Running," Chapter 14) can guide the athlete - or coach - to a macro-scale solution set.  Yes, a set of solutions; rarely if ever is a running injury caused by one single factor.

When you see "no run" or "rest" as a potential treatment, that doesn't necessarily mean "complete rest."  Complete rest would only be advised in the event of more-severe injuries, such as stress fractures.  Of course, I haven't hit all of the possible categories, and I'm not prescriptive on the strength training, stretching, or cross-training.  That's where the smart folks with the initials after their names come in; just don't let them tell you to stop running altogether.

I like to think I can get to a failure cause in training method, as well as a degree of injury, but there are times when the athlete isn't giving the entire story; "nothing has changed," they say.  "All of a sudden...I can't run..."  Sometimes, the mule-headedness is karmic retribution for my own past doings.  There's not much you can do, in that case, except shrug your shoulders and recommend a week of no running, with a "wait and see" attitude.  Sometimes a causal factor suddenly pops into an athlete's head when they've had a couple of days off the trails.

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