Saturday, August 3, 2013

Resting When Injured Is Not Weakness

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
~ Benjamin Franklin

The Story

I ride my bike to work once to twice a week for cross-training miles. It's a nice way to snag an extra 20-40 mpw of training during a busy week, and I've found that my body responds well to increased mileage [that will be the topic of my next blogpost].

This past Monday I got into a rather gnarly bike accident. To make a short story even shorter, this is what happened:

  • It was raining
  • I was riding along Commonwealth Avenue west of Boston University FitRec [BU's fitness center]
  • I was in the bike lane
  • While turning left on a green light, a BMW came WAY over into the bike lane
  • I rode closer to the curb to not get hit
  • My back tire hit the curb, and I went over the MBTA tracks [like railroad tracks] in a parrellel fashion instead of perpendicularly
  • My front tire got caught in the tracks, and while trying to turn I crashed and flew off my bike into the middle of the intersection
Not where the accident took place, but I do appreciate Boston's efforts to make bike lanes more obvious.

WTF. Also, my left knee was in quite a bit of pain as you can tell from the first picture.

Also, WTF. No pedestrian or driver came to help me. No one asked if I was OK. REALLY?

So, did I rest on Tuesday? Nope. I ran 6.3mi with two miles at tempo pace, 7:08 and 7:18, before and after hill sprints, respectively. I woke up Wednesday morning, and my left knee was still a bit swollen, my left ankle felt like it was broken, and my left hip and hamstring felt out-of-place. 

So, I went for another run on Thursday - 6mi at a relaxed pace, except for the fact that my body was hurting.
My Salomon Sense Ultra just want to go for a run on the trails! Must.  Not. Rest.

Why did I go running despite the injury? Because I thought I would lose fitness, gain some weight, and have to start over from scratch. Yeah, I know, that's crazy.

I took Friday off after discussing the situation with my buddy and teammate, Tyler Matthews of Tyler Matthews Running, as well as with my Team Wicked Bonkproof running coach, Caleb Masland. I did a lot of foam rolling and self massage, took some NSAIDs, and iced periodically.

It's now Saturday morning, and you know what? I'm not going for a run despite the fact that my leg feels a little bit better. AND... I probably won't go for my Sunday long run either.


The Lesson

As runners, we're an obsessive group of people that, for better or worse, welcome pain. Most of the people that I have met in my life seem to be pain avoiders of one form or another, but most of the runners in my life seem to be the type of individuals that are more willing to take risks and live life on the edge [broadly defined].

I think it is much better to live life on the edge. I also think pain avoidance, broadly defined, is one [of many] factors that lead to individuals living lives that are seemingly unfulfilled. 

With that being said, when it comes to running... if you have a real injury, just back off and take it easy. You aren't going to lose that much fitness. If you have a fairly healthy diet, then you are going to gain weight. 

As Tyler said to me, and I paraphrase, "If it wasn't about the weight, what would you do to get back to running at 100%?"

My response, "I would rest."

So, I'm resting this weekend. No running. 3 whole days. I think that will be the longest I've taken off from running in the last year. 

Why run for 3 days and continue to injure myself when I can rest until Monday and start my week fresh? I think I'll just wait till Monday :-).

So remember: taking a bit of a rest period when you are injured is not a sign of weakness; rather, it's a sign of strength and maturity. Are a few terrible, painful workouts worth a longer period of recovery due to stubbornness? 

You decide. Also, remember to take Benjamin Franklin's advice, quoted at the beginning of this post, seriously.

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