5 tips for coming back after a running injury

Boost your recovery with a holistic approach to your health: good eating, a positive attitude and a structured training plan.

5 tips for coming back after a running injury

If you're recovering from an injury, don't allow yourself to get frustrated or depressed, instead follow these five practical tips designed to get you back to running and fighting fit as quickly as possible.

You can also try this 20 minute HIIT low impact workout and read 5 ways to keep fit when you can't run

1. Cross training

Blogger and V50 marathon runner, Julia Armstrong, invested in an aqua belt when she was injured. She ‘ran’ in the sea near her home in Eastbourne every day in the summer and is now back running better than ever, at the age of 53.

And, sub-three hour marathon runner and prolific racer, Sam Alvarez, 42, joined the over 55s classes wearing a cast when she was hit with 15 stress fractures in her foot.

‘I was amazed at how much I could achieve while hopping around on one leg!’ she says. ‘Once the cast came off, I was put in a special support boot and told not to run for six to eight months. I transformed that to four months by cross training; I swam every day, continued with all the gym classes (but no longer with the under 55s) and walked everywhere –sometimes up to five miles a day – on crutches, wearing the boot!’

2. Try walk/running

Walk/running isn’t a cop out – and it’s a brilliant way to build up strength and endurance, keep injuries at bay. You’d be surprised how much ground you can cover with one-minute walk breaks as part of your longer run.

Walking gives the body a break from the repetitive pounding of running and helps you build up your endurance as you recover. Try our 14 week beginner walk / run training plan

3. Base building

The aerobic engine needs refuelling when you’ve been injured. You can keep aerobically fit by cross training, but when you’re ready to get going again, it’s a great idea to embark on a low-intensity base building period of running. Easy running, with the volume increasing slowly (no more than 10 per cent a week) will ensure you get fit – without getting injured.

4. Speed work

When you're recovering from injury, reintroduce speed work slowly. Start with eight to 10 strides of 100m, with a jog recovery on soft ground, then build up to fartlek training of 10 minutes or more. If you ran intervals to time before you got injured, take the pressure off by running to heart rate (aim to run intervals at 85 to 90 per cent of your max), and try to run off-road.

5. Stay positive

A positive mindset will always help you recover more quickly. According to an article on the Association for Applied Sport Psychology website, ‘Maintaining a positive attitude and using mental skills are related to a shorter rehabilitation.’

A study from 1999 found that compared to slow healers, fast healers ‘took personal responsibility for healing; had high desire and determination; had more social support; maintained a positive attitude; used creative visualisation; were less fearful of re-injury upon return to full participation.’

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