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How to Get Back into Running after an Injury

How to Get into Running after an injury or how to start running in general | College with Caitlyn

Fun fact: I’m actually a runner. Well, not a marathon runner (yet) but I’m a runner. I did track all through middle school and high school, and even tested out cross country one year. But after I got tendinitis in my lower leg during my sophomore year track season, it was all downhill for me.

I never let myself fully heal so I was always re-injuring myself. Just a few months after the tendinitis in my left leg went away, I got IT syndrome in that same leg. Then a few months after that I had major issues with my calves. A year after that I ran my senior track season out of shape, my legs always hurting.

Then I basically gave up on running. I went out maybe once or twice every couple months, but was so disappointed with my now slow times that I was discouraged and gave up again until another short-lived burst of inspiration hit me.

That is until now.

I think I am finally back into running. And for good this time! I mean it’s been about a month and a half and I haven’t given up yet so I think that’s a good sign.

Coming back from an injury is a lot like starting completely new in the running world, so I thought I’d fuse the two together to bring some running motivation.

It’s okay to walk

This was one of the hardest things I’ve learned to deal with. I absolutely refused to walk on my runs back in high school. Like I was the one that always chastised the other girls for stopping to to walk. Funny how the tables have turned, huh?

Now I know that walking on a “run” is nothing wrong. It’s not shameful and it doesn’t mean you’re out of shape. Stopping to walk for a couple minutes can actually help

How you feel is more important than stats

The reason I’ve always loved running was because I’m only playing against myself. There is no one to beat, only yourself. But as always, you can still get caught up in the comparison game with yourself.

Many times I’ve said to myself:

  • “Running lengths twice this used to be so easy for me.”
  • “If I stop before mile one I’m a failure.”
  • “I used to be able to run two miles in what it takes me to run one now.”

All of these are statistic based. And I’m here to tell you that stats don’t matter, not as much as we hype them up, at least.

While getting faster and being able to run farther without stopping will obviously boost your mood, motivation, and confidence with running, so will your overall outlook on running. If every time you run you dread it because it makes you feel like crap, and you only do it to get a better time you’re never going to want to keep running. Especially if you don’t see any progress.

Instead you should be focusing on your state of mind and emotions while running.

First off, never base the whole run’s mood on the first mile. Especially if you didn’t do a warm-up, because then the first mile becomes your warm-up. No one does as amazing during their warm-up as they would during the actual event.

Also, don’t push yourself too hard. If you overexert yourself running will seem like too much work or a chore. You don’t want this. Instead, you should aim for running to feel like an escape from your daily life and something to look forward, too.

To achieve this you have to make sure you’re enjoying the run. You can do this by listening to your favorite music or podcast, watching Netflix while on the treadmill (hello Friends), or running in a pretty neighborhood or on some nice trails.

Form is key to prevent injury

I’m pretty sure I actually had awful running form all through track. And no one stopped me once. Well, actually one person taught me to run on my toes, not my heels, and that actually took me months to do naturally.

Changing your form can take a very long time. But it is worth it. By switching the way my foot strikes the ground I eliminated my constant shin splints! I’m talking shin splints so bad my dad used to have to rub my legs multiple times a week.

Be sure to check in on your form multiple times throughout your run. It’s easy to switch back into bad habits when you get tired or if proper form hasn’t been ingrained into your muscle memory yet.

Here a few things to incorporate into your running form:

  • strike ground with mid-foot to toe
  • keep arms at mid height and make sure they don’t cross diagonally in front of your chest
  • keeps eyes on the horizon
  • your foot should land under your hip under each stride, not in front of you (you are not a gazelle)

Aaptiv best run infographic

Use a running motivation app

I heard about Aaptiv months ago and immediately downloaded it, but it sat dormant on my phone until just a month or two ago. Aaptiv is a virtual trainer app that coaches you through your runs.

I remember the first time I was immediately taken back to my old mindset with running. I felt so free and not weighed down by if I was going to get a certain time. I’ve continued using it since then and I really love it. I use it for treadmill runs and stair climbing as well. I’m still amazed after every workout that I finish that I actually completed it. I never would have been able to complete what I’ve done without this app.

Aaptiv also have classes for cycling, stretching, cross training, and even 5K, half-marathons, and marathons. I’ve wanted to run a half-marathon for about four or five years now, so maybe now I’ve found my motivation to do so.

To redeem a whole month of free workouts, use the code RUN30 as mentioned on the infographic!

Here are some other motivation apps to get you running:

  • RockMyRun
  • Adidas Train & Run
  • Running Trainer
  • Zombies Run

Please cool down and stretch

I begging you to please incorporate a cool down and time to stretch into your running routine. Avoiding these years ago were probably key factors in my many injuries.

For a cool down you don’t have to run a whole other mile, you can choose to so a slow jog for a couple minutes or just a walk. However, jogging is a more efficient cool down as it slowly reduces your heart rate instead of going from sixty to zero.

At a bare minimum, your post-run stretches should include:

  • one hamstring stretch (usually propping leg up on bench or something and leaning over)
  • one quad stretch (usually standing on one foot while pulling opposite foot to your butt)
  • one calf stretch (usually standing on edge of step and dropping heel down)

I like to do even more than this, as well as foam rolling my IT bands and calves. I always make sure to do this due to my prior injuries to those areas. This girl don’t need no more injuries. Thank you very much.

Another thing that’s popular is the use of cooling cream. So many athletes swear by stuff like this. I recently got a jar of it from NextRelief and have been using it on my calves. The smell is a bit strong, like all cooling creams usually are, but I love how relaxed it makes my muscles feel.

What’s your biggest challenge with running?

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  • Meghan Brohoski

    Awesome post! Super informative & helpful. Thanks for including RockMyRun! We’re glad to hear you’re enjoying the app. – Meghan, Community Manager for RockMyRun

  • My Sprinkle of Prep

    I really enjoyed this post while I am not injured yet I know it will eventually happen with age and the way I workout, while I am not a track runner I did pick up Cross Country my senior year of high school as a was to meet friends and stay in shape for my true sport. I know once my season ends I want to run a marathon (Disney Marathon) before I really get way to lazy. I will definitely be coming back to these tips as a way to build confidence. Thanks so much for sharing.

    megan | MySprinkleofPrep.wordpress.com

    • What is your true sport? And omg I’ve heard so many fun things about Disney marathons!!

      xo
      Caitlyn