Time to take a few days or weeks off.
[Pause for collective gasp...]
Of all the things I've discussed here, I've not said much about running when injured and that's probably what I know best. When I posted the week of 70+ miles, there was a reason behind it that I didn't say: I wanted to go up to the Superior Hiking Trail and pace someone, so that I could get to know the course better and see what I could learn from watching others in the 100 mile race, but I needed to know first that I could actually physically do it. I'd been in enough pain that I wasn't sure; the high mileage week told me I could probably handle a long trail for one day.
There are a couple of rules I use for injuries and whether or not one can run through them:
1) If you can't run for 30 minutes without pain or changing your gait to avoid pain, you're injured. Your only goal at that point should be to get to that 30 minutes. Run until something hurts, then walk briskly (if you can) until you get to 30 minutes. Don't think about training for anything until you can run the whole 30 minutes. Then plan a gradual comeback.
2) Do not take painkillers before exercise to try to circumvent rule #1). After running, one can use ice, compression, elevation and anti-inflammatories to decrease swelling. Do not stretch anything that's injured until it's completely healed; after healing's complete, stretching may help to keep the problem from returning, but it's more likely to cause further injury to things already hurting.
3) Running through an injury often leads to another injury. Often, it switches from one leg to the other, as one unintentionally babies the injured limb. Problems tend to start low and move up the body; foot problems are the most common and easiest to treat, but if left untreated, one may find one gets ankle and calf problems, then knee and hamstring problems, then iliotibial band and hip flexor problems and finally back problems. One can sometimes push through injuries when one has a race coming up and let each body part take its toll, but when your back hurts you're done - you've postponed the inevitable as long as possible and you have to stop.
I'm there. Time to do some gardening and home repair.
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