What to do if you get hurt

Injuries are a constant risk for people who are trying to improve their running.

No matter how careful we are, niggles, twinges, or injuries can happen. Luckily if you're mindful and smart about them, you can minimize their impact on your training.

Let's break down a few scenarios.

The first is what happens when you develop a full-blown injury:

  1. You're goingabout your regular training, step down on a large pine-cone and your foot bends a bit funny. You may have strained your arch slightly.
  2. You ignore the discomfort and run the next day as your training schedule is planned. It hurts a bit more but you can still run. You can't miss any miles!
  3. During your next run, the foot strain flares up to the point that your running form is compromised and you straight up cannot run on itany more.
  4. You're forced to walk two miles back home
  5. It hurts the next day, so you don't run.
  6. You visit a PT and they suggest you stay off of it for at least 1-2 weeks to let the strain heal up.

Now let's go through what I did when I strained my foot in the exact same scenario:

  1. I'm goingabout my regular training, step on a large pinecone and my foot bends was not ready for theakward movement, bends funnily, but is fine for the rest of the run.
  2. I wake up the next day and can tell my foot is a bit off, so I rest for two days.
  3. For the nextweek I cut my mileage to 50% and only do easy running.
  4. The next week I'm able to resume training as normal.

In one scenario the runner who was not willing to rest was forced to take two full weeks fully off and will likely require at least two more to return to normal training. In the second real lifeexample I took only a few days off and was able to at least run daily for the next week.

Resting for a few days will almost always be adequate to let a potential injury regenerate.

That is one of the hardest things for many runners to deal with, being willing to rest.

Below are a few other links:

Should you stretch that injury?| Dr. Stephen Gangemi "Sock Doc" | "The two best things you can do to an injured area is to apply deep pressure manipulation as well as move the area, if it’s safe to do so."

What to do When you Pull a Muscle From Working Out | Stephanie Lee at Lifehacker | "think about it for a second: if a pulled muscle is a result of overstretching, then stretching it further to its full range of motion won’t help."

Think Twice Before Applying Ice | Kristi Anderson, MPT | "The conventional use of ice, particularly in the first 24-48 hours following injury, soothes the pain and slows the bleeding into the injured area, but some experts suggest that its effects on the circulation might slow the natural rate of the healing process. Heat stimulates the area to respond in ways that seem to promote healing but the current research is lacking direct evidence that it influences recovery time."

Heal Running Injuries Faster with Heat | Steve Gonser, PT, DPT | "Clinically, I use this quite often. It’s a great way to nudge yourself down the path to full recovery. Both the use of muscles and heat can cause increased blood flow; however, the latter can do so without loading healing tissue. A simple “on for 20, off for 20” cycle can draw blood to a localized area and keep you healing even when you’re lying low.Your only hang up is applying heat too soon. Here are some general rules for avoiding the use of heat:"


Kyle is a running coach who works with people all over the world to help them run more consistently & be resilient to injury.

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Sheena Panoncillo - April 19, 2017

Great advice! I personally developed a stress fracture in my distal fibula. It was recommended to not run for 4-6 weeks, even walking can be uncomfortable. Biking, however feels like there is no injury. I have a half marathon (trail) in 8.5 weeks. By cross training , does it seem feasible to be able to condition for a race like this or would you recommend cutting my losses and dropping out of the race.

    Kyle - April 20, 2017

    If you take what you would normally run and convert that to minutes, you can mimic your would-be training schedule on the bike and at least develop your aerobic fitness. For example, if you had a running workout that would be an easy 5 miles + a hard 2 miles, you can do an easy 50 minutes + a hard 20 minutes on the bike. Then when you’re able to run you can ease back into running and at least get back into the groove of that before the half 🙂

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