Question: I was running well until December when I developed knee pain. I'm almost finished with rehab and can now run 2 miles pain free. I REALLY want to run Broad Street (I've done it many times before). Is your training program right for me and do you think I can get ready in time? -Megan Answer: It depends. Could you? Or should you?
First, let me just say that I love runners and their passion. Being passionate about any activity that can bring so many positive benefits is amazing and is to be appreciated. I'm pretty sure our country would be better off if more people became so passionate about any type of training!
That same passion can quickly get us into trouble, however. When you start making training decisions with your heart rather than your head, you're doomed.
So let's all agree to do our best to look objectively at our unique situation, ok? That can be really, REALLY tough sometimes.
When you've invested training time, physical and emotional energy, and money, not to mention telling everyone that you're “gonna do this thing”, it can feel like you've got a lot riding on the upcoming race.
But I want you to try something on for a second.
What if you found out that there will, in fact, be more races to run in the future? Well, it's true. There will always be more opportunities to race in the future.
All that pressure to run? It's actually only occurring in your head, not necessarily in reality.
And I'll let you in on a little secret. People will actually respect you for doing what is right for your body. No one will think less of you if you don't race – especially if it's because you're giving your body the respect it deserves.
Hell, most non-runners will be glad you've come to your senses! ;-)
Ok, here's my point. Try approaching your training from the perspective of putting your health first and let your race performances be a side effect of that great health. Rather than rushing things just to enter a race, take the time to address your foundation of health.
By putting your health first you'll make smarter training decisions. Are hard intervals the right session today? Or should you take a recovery jog?
In Megan's case, the smartest thing to do would be to let go of the Broad Street Run. She's not finished with rehab and is currently adapted to only very short distance runs.
Could she scramble and probably get through the race? Yes, it's possible.
I think it comes down to risk vs. reward. Are the training risks worth the reward of personal satisfaction (or whatever drives you to compete)?
Only do the amount or intensity of training that is currently appropriate for you. If you're not even finished with rehab I don't think it's wise to start ramping up for a race.
After rehab is finished, work with someone like me to uncover any movement dysfunction or training mistakes that may have led to your injury. Get strong by lifting weights. Slowly and progressively run more. Pay attention to your hydration daily, pound those veggies and focus on sleep.
Wait, you are eating vegetables at each meal, right?
Once all of those things are clicking, decide on a race. If you've taken a “health first” approach to your training, my hunch is that you're going to race well. Great racing will be a by-product or “side effect” of being as healthy as possible.
Stubbornly clinging to the hope of running in a race when your body clearly isn't ready is just asking for trouble. Remember, there will usually be another chance to race.
Have you ever rushed back from injury? How did it play out?