Understanding injury is extremely important. Knowing when to run and when to rest can make the difference between needing a few days or a few months (or longer) to recover. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul. Unless you’re running to pay the bills, you’ll need to make smart decisions that preserve your body. Too often runners and triathletes sacrifice months of training on the backend for a single year of glory. Long, hard days racing and training add up. This is particularly true in our “more experienced” athletes (*cough* over 40). Unfortunately, The whole system is feed forward. Hard training yields quick results, which, in turn yields more hard training. The effects are latent, though, which often results in an ambush of injuries. It may take weeks or even months for injured tissue to rear its ugly head and when it does your season may be over. Look at your race and training schedule and ask yourself, “Does this make sense on paper?” Ask yourself, ‘WWSS’ (What Would Steve Say) if I showed this to him.
There are some ground rules to follow when assessing your overall training and racing. A lot of articles point out the obvious, yet subjective answers to this question. Subjectivity is athlete poison. Most athletes are type-A or, at some level, addicted to exercise. You’ll talk yourself into and out of everything. Tired legs are justified into an easy day, but never warrant a missed run. Feeling run down translates into an uplifting run… you know, to gain some energy. You see, you‘ll always talk yourself into more. Turning subjective reasoning into objective rules can effectively take the ball out of your court and remove your (usually inaccurate) judgment. Here are two concrete rules to follow when determining if an injury is looming.
Every athlete should be recording a log of miles and races. It shouldn’t be retroactive, either. Plan out your season and training and seek glaring issues. Trust me; training errors usually stick out like a sore thumb. Make it a habit to talk yourself into less, not more. Most athletes overshoot their training and racing so performing less may actually be the sweet spot.