How to regain speed after a running injury

It happens to the best of us, me included, unfortunately, you're going to get injured, most likely if you run for a long time. Maybe it's bigger. Maybe it's smaller. You know, we all deal with little things or larger things, depending on our situation.
How to regain speed after a running injury

It happens to the best of us, me included, unfortunately, you're going to get injured, most likely if you run for a long time. Maybe it's bigger. Maybe it's smaller. You know, we all deal with little things or larger things, depending on our situation. And of course, we do all of the things that we think we should be doing and we should be doing to prevent injuries.

We strength train, we stretch, we warm up properly, we moderate our mileage, we do all of these things. But sometimes life happens and you get injured. I want to share with you today the one thing you need to stop doing if you want to regain that speed quicker after you've been injured.

Welcome to the show, Runner's High, I'm Jesse Funk if you've not been on the channel before, I know you're going to want to subscribe because you're a runner and you're trying to gain speed and you want to know about running. This show comes out every Tuesday and Thursday with new episodes, and it's going to be right up your alley. So again, hit that subscribe button here. Over to my left. You're right, it's a little red button. It's pretty hard to miss.

Ok, so there's one thing you have to stop doing when you want to regain speed after you've been injured. And this is something that came up when I was talking to podiatrist Mark Gallagher on the Smart Athlete Podcast.

It's another show that I do here on this channel. It comes out on Fridays where I talk to smart athletes, anywhere from amateurs to Olympians, and they do all kinds of crazy, cool stuff. So that's another show you're going to want to check out if that subscribe button.

Anyway, so the one thing you have to stop doing if you want to regain speed is being impatient because being impatient can lead you to being re-injured and then you start all over again. It is the toughest thing, right? We're we're trying to work hard to get faster as soon as we can. But when you have an injury, you've got a weak link in your chain. And when you have a weak link, it's going to be more easy to break again.

So impatience is a one-way ticket to head back to time off from injury. But there's more things to consider when you are actually coming back from injury, and I want to talk about what Mark shared when I talked to him on the Smart Athlete Podcast. Suffice it to say, you're going to want to check out my entire conversation with Mark here in a minute. So at the end of this video, I'm going to link to my conversation with Mark. You can check out our whole conversation in all of the great things he has to share because he works with people all the time, they get injured and help them get back.

But Mark specifically talked about one thing I had never heard before. I never heard anybody suggest at all in the 20 years I've been running competitively. And it was surprising to me, but it made absolute sense. And he mentioned, when you're coming back from injury, you want to do some work at like tempo. And I went, "What?" "You you what?"

His point was not so much that you need to go out and start hauling ass out the door. It was that you want to be careful about the form that you're using when you come back from a running injury. Because if we have a running injury, we're going to be more tempted to baby that injury, which can in turn lead to other related injuries in that chain.

So although your injury may be isolated, say you have a hamstring issue. If you're favoring that side, you can create problems on the opposite side or you can create chain problems along the leg. So you know, when we're running, it's from foot all the way to our head, and the major chain is going to be obviously your leg because that's what's moving and making you run. If you have a hamstring issue, it can get offloaded onto your glutes. They can probably deal with it. They're a pretty big mover.

But what's less likely to be able to deal with it is your calves and you're solely as a particular, especially as you go faster. What we know about the loads in running that is -- which muscle groups are doing the major amounts of work. We know, especially as we get faster your hamstrings and your soleus, that's that big stabilizer. The bottom part of your calf, not the gastronomy, is the part we like to focus on that smaller part that goes down and touches your Achilles tendon all in that area that you're Soleus. Soleus in the hamstrings are the things that are going to be doing the major amount of work.

And that means if those aren't taken care of, especially as you get faster, then you're going to have an issue. Now, if you didn't have an injury, with those things going to probably be less of an issue. But again, if it's in that chain, that posterior chain, the chain behind you, so in front you have your quads and then I guess, shin muscles, these dorsal flexion. So when you pull your foot up, those are going to be less used in the running chain compared to the back side glutes hamstrings calf. So if you have an issue in that posterior chain again, calf hamstrings, glutes, they can all affect each other.

But what you want to do is think about a progression in time, one you have to be ready to run with, as Mark mentioned, without changing how you're going to run. This is something I focus on for a long time, but really, you probably need a partner or a video or something to be able to see yourself run and go. No, everything is even because sometimes you can feel right and it's still not quite right.

So you need to be ready to run, first of all. But then there's a progression of speed because as mentioned, as speed increases, the load increases on those muscles and the likelihood for failure goes up. The easiest thing to do is simply start out with a long run. Right? Not going hard. You've got to be able to complete long runs without issue before you can increase speed. And then the next thing is not to go out and do a speed work, it's simply to do strides and not even strides at full strength.

So I've talked about strides before, and what I refer to them as is sometimes you can say, one hundred meters. Fifteen seconds is kind of what we do is when my coach nowadays, because then it adjusts for how you're feeling at that particular time.

But it's an acceleration from stop to halfway through the stride. You get to near top speed and then you back down. Well, in this injury protocol, you're probably not going to go to top speed to start. You're going to start somewhere like 50 percent of speed. And then as you get a little bit stronger, you'll get a seventy five percent and then as you get stronger, you'll go to full speed. Similarly, with your workout speeds, you don't start going, I just came back from an injury. Let's go do two hundred meter sprints. No, because that increases the load on your leg, which you may not be ready for.

You have to go through a progression of, OK, we've done our slow runs. We're continuing our slow runs. Now we're doing a little bit of tempo, which is a little bit faster than longer in pace. And then now we're doing maybe 10k pace and then now we're maybe doing 5k pace and then now we're doing maybe four hundreds. It is not always structured like that in a training program. However, when you're coming back from injury because of the likelihood of re-injury, then you have to take care to be very careful about this increase in progression of load.

Keeping in mind that I'm neither a doctor or physical therapist. If you've got one, listen to them, please, because injuries are going to be very unique, right? They're going to be particular to you. Your situation, how you're progressing and whoever your provider is, they're going to give you the best advice. Better advice than I can give you because I'm not really talking to you. I'm sitting here talking to a camera.

But one thing that you do want to know if you're treating an injury by yourself is about bilateral strength. So what am I talking about? I'm talking about strength on both sides when you're rehabbing injury. First, you want to be doing that exercise on both sides, the healthy side and the injured side. But one indication of strength or ability to return to running and faster speeds is number one, lack of pain. But number two, the ability to maintain similar loads on the previously injured side compared to the healthy side.

So if you consider the healthy side a hundred percent, then the injury side is a percentage of that and you want to be able to get it back to that like 90 plus percent range before you consider yourself. Hey, I'm ready to start putting on more loads. That also goes for the faster stuff. The faster you want to go, the closer you need to be to that completely healthy range. There is the ability to run through long runs while you're injured, but again, because of increased exposure during those increased speeds for re-injury, you have to be especially careful through that.

Which brings me back to my original point this very long-winded video to talk about the one thing you have to stop doing is being impatient, and one way to do that is to stop putting a timeline on your recovery. Because when you put a timeline on your recovery, you become impatient. You say I must be better by x date. We have to do is simply focus on today and right now.

How am I progressing?

What are my numbers today?

Am I getting enough recovery?

Are things progressing?

When you do that, you will be ready as soon as you're ready. And no sooner, but also no later. When you do that, you set yourself up for long-term success, which is what running is about. It's about learning to go the distance, right? Both physically and mentally.

So I hope you can temper your impatience. Now, that we've got through this video, check out that you know that conversation I had with Mark Gallagher on the Smart Athlete Podcast that will be up on the screen here shortly. If you have any questions for me, you like answered in a video in the future, leading down to the comments below. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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