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August 1, 2013

On The Run: Putting on the brakes

Sometimes the hardest part of running is when you’re not able to actually do it.

But in these instances, less really is more.

When it comes down to it, runners just want to run. Which is fine until you sustain an injury; then common sense has to enter into the equation.

Unfortunately, taking the common sense route isn’t always the most fun option.

Serious running injuries tend to be ones that only get worse when you try to run through them. Long-distance races present these situations often, where you get more than halfway through before encountering a side stitch or a muscle strain. Sometimes you can power through or focus on your breathing, and the pain subsides enough for you to keep going. Or you may choose to walk or stretch and find that you can carry on.

Dealing with longer-term injuries is a little trickier. In addition to following medical advice, whether it’s from a physician, a physical therapist or another expert, you’ve also got to deal with the toughest foe of all: yourself.

It’s a workout in itself to simply resist the urge to get out there when you see others out running on beautiful summer days or read friends’ reports on social media about road races that you usually do. Rushing back too soon could only make things worse, but the temptation is there. This is where the discipline that you developed over the years of training for races can come in handy.

Because having an injury isn’t just an excuse to sit back, relax and put on 10-15 pounds. If you’re able, you can still go to the gym and do low-impact cardio machines like exercise bikes or elliptical; sure, they’re boring, but they still allow you to work out. Working out with weights is another good option, as is swimming or getting out and riding a bike.

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