I'll be the first to admit that I don't have what it takes to be a runner. I look for almost any excuse to wimp out. Case in point? Just the other day I told K, "If you're somehow too pregnant to run our Half in March, I'm sure as heck not getting up at 4am to do it alone."
To which K responded, "Please. I'd get up at 4am, drive you to the race, and meet you at certain spots to cheer you on."
You see, K has it in her to take a little punishment. I, on the other hand, do not. I've had to learn how to work through that, of course, but a headache, a broken pinky toe...heck, even a hang nail is a reason for me to take a day off running.
When I ran the Half last January, I hurt my knee in the first three miles. Taking months off of training and running at a race-pace will do that. I also suffered some weird issue with the top of my foot. (My laces were tied too tightly and after 13.1 miles, that pressure actually caused some kind of mild injury.) I legitimately tried to run a mile the day after my half, and legitimately needed to rest my knee. I ended up resting it for three months.
Was that really necessary?
Now, I've learned my lesson. I've stocked up on ice packs. I wear a knee brace (this one) when I run. I changed from my Nike shoes to the Sauconys that were specially fitted for my feet. I make sure to actually stretch after a run. I build up my mileage slowly. (No more 0-13's for me.)
Still, there's this whiny child in me - the same child that walked the mile in PE and complained of fatigue - that works tirelessly to drag my motivation down the drain. And we all know the only truly permitted excuse for time off from exercise is injury.
(I do need to stop and wonder at myself here, because if my pregnant, achy, exhausted, mommy-of-a-toddler partner can run through it, what's my excuse?!)
So how to deal with these injuries? I've decided to do something pretty dumb. Anything that's not painful (as in, I can walk on it without limping) can be treated with advil, a slower pace, and a shorter distance. The big thing here is staying in the habit of getting exercise so that, while nursing the injury, I don't lose the motivation to go out and run. Many times, for me, running through mild pain helps the pain alleviate faster.
This probably isn't the case for everyone, and most experienced runners might have better techniques, but I've found that modifying my run (instead of putting it on hold) and being diligent about my stretching allows me to overcome injuries faster, and seems to prevent injuries in the future. My muscles stay limber, ready, and raring to go!
Still, it's important to note here that my knees still constantly give me trouble in the beginning of any run, and I need a second brace for my left knee now. (My original injuries were both to my left leg, but after they healed up my right knee became the weak one, so that's where I wear my brace.) I haven't yet gotten it, but I sure look forward to being that awkward looking girl wearing two braces as I run.
Hey, maybe it will make me look dedicated, hardcore, and like I actually know what I'm doing!