Does Running = Injury?

I was at the Hares & Hounds Ultra race in the Queensland Glasshouse Mountains on Sunday. No, I wasn’t running. Not even in the 5km event. Why? Because I’m injured. So I was there purely to volunteer and sell a few copies of my book.

While there, I got talking with quite a few other fellow runners and it seemed to me I was not alone in terms of injury! It felt like every second runner I talked to was either injured or coming back from injury. As I said in RUNNING AGAINST TIME, nearly two thirds of us runners are injured at some point in a given year. So what to do, when injured? I’ve written a book throughout my injury period, but not everyone can do that! Many of the people I talked to were running, despite injury niggles, while others were running smaller distances because of recent injury. Why? Because perhaps if they didn’t, they’d never be running at all; they’d not be runners. Because running = injury. Or does it?

For me? Maybe. I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to beat a permanent injury, and just as it seemed like I’d won I picked up a new injury on the other ankle. I’d thought by going barefoot, or at least minimalist Vibram 5 Fingers I’d made myself immune to injury. But no, it would seem I’m rapidly becoming living proof that going minimalist does not mean no injuries!

So does begin the self doubt, and depression as it all once again seems hopeless. I try the stretching and exercises best designed to overcome the Achilles pain, only for weeks to go by with no change. I start to doubt the treatment. I down anti-inflametories like they’re going out of stock, ice, use a heat pack, complete new stretches, all to find a small improvement, then a decline, then an improvement… It goes on. Five weeks and counting and I’m still injured.

I’ve started to think maybe I should start running anyway, like some at the Hares & Hounds. I debate internally the risks. If running = injury, then does not the opposite ring true? If injured, just run anyway?! I’ve been seriously considering it, but I’m not sure… I don’t have the answers unfortunately. What I can say is, I read with absolute glee last night in Scott Jurek’s novel Eat & Run, that he suffered from plantar fasciitis in 2009. I’ve never felt so much relief! Ive read just about every Running Autobiography that’s out there. Lisa Tamati, Dean Karnazes, Pat Farmer, and none of them ever seem to talk much about or pick up a normal common running injury! I’d started to believe that these guys were just gifted, and I am not! I’d started to think, like many runners out there that I know, that I should just give up. I’m obviously not immortal like these guys. My body is just not gifted for long distance running. But then Scott admitted it. He got injured. Perhaps these guys are mortal after all!?! They do get injured! 270 pages into Scott’s book and it’s finally there. He did suffer from these annoying bloody running injuries that we weekend runners all seem to be plagued with. These guys just seem to choose to omit most of them in their larger than life Autobiographies. Scott included one, and I respect him all the more for it! So, what now then?

It would seem that running does = getting injured. The running immortals even get them. It seems to come with the territory, barefoot or shod, world champion, or average Jo. We all have to face it at some point. How we face it is what defines us as runners and as people. For me, now, I continue to rest and rehab this old body of mine… I refuse to let it beat me! For now, I also resist the urge to run… Maybe rest = recovery? Only, why must it take so long!

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