How a Running Injury Helped Me PR

Natalya Jones
Dec 18, 2020 · 3 min read
Photo courtesy of Flanigan’s Rockin’ Rib Run 10k

I’m not the fastest runner, but my ego suggests otherwise.

Training for my fifth marathon, I was working out ten times a week. Five of those were runs, three were HIIT classes and two were yoga classes. On each run, instead of including one speed day, I was pushing myself harder and faster each day. Every time was a chance for a PR and if I didn’t attain that goal, I was irritated.

After over a month of pushing myself, it happened. About half an inch above my left ankle, there was a slight twinge I felt when I walked. Being the stubborn runner I am, I still stuck to my training schedule. More appropriately, my overtraining schedule.

Later that weekend, before a long run, I grudgingly promised my boyfriend/sherpa that I would stop at three miles if the pain persisted. And it persisted, alright. Defeated, I walked back home and took then next day off.

I waited two weeks before I saw an orthopedic doctor, who was also a runner. I took her advice by buying insoles, an ankle brace, and KT Tape. I iced the spot multiple times a day and divided up my long runs into shorter ones.

Unfortunately, the pain persisted and ended up turning into shin splints. Having not experienced this since high school, I took two weeks off all exercise. Those 14 days dragged on longer than I wanted them to. I felt frustrated, anxious, and worthless. I then made one of the most difficult decisions of my brief time as a runner: I downgraded from the marathon to a half marathon.

Ironically enough, those two weeks off were what I needed both physically and mentally.

It was an essential swift kick in the ass. I missed running more than ever, and realized that if I wanted to run till I’m elderly, I need to listen to my body. I need to respect running. Running doesn’t owe me anything, but I owed my body the rest it needs.

I slowly but surely started training again at three times a week. I crossed trained only three times a week with yoga and one HIIT class; my two-a-days were eliminated completely. There was one rest day with no physical activity, which I did not have prior. Stretching was mandatory, not optional, and occurred after every run.

Fast forward to race day. It was a brisk, cool day in early November. As much as I yearned for a sub two hour race and PR, I understood that this was a recovery race and the goal was just to finish.

I started with a smile on my face and ended with an even bigger one. My time was 1:55:03 (it would have been 1:54:39 had I not stopped to pee, but nature calls). I ran for enjoyment, slowing down for a brief 5 seconds when I felt a stitch in my side. Listening to my body during training and the race led to a goal I did not think was attainable at that time. I went on to PR at both a 10K (51:11) and 5K (24:10) later that month, totaling three personal bests for me in 30 days. I reached faster speeds in less time, with less pain.

I can truly attest that less running is more for me, and will follow through for my fifth upcoming marathon in Berlin.

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Natalya Jones

Written by

Fond of puns and an alliteration addict, Natalya loves to run, read, and write. To see her work, visit JonesingForJournals.com.

In Fitness And In Health

A fast-growing health and fitness community dedicated to sharing knowledge, lessons, and suggestions to living happier, healthier lives.

Natalya Jones

Written by

Fond of puns and an alliteration addict, Natalya loves to run, read, and write. To see her work, visit JonesingForJournals.com.

In Fitness And In Health

A fast-growing health and fitness community dedicated to sharing knowledge, lessons, and suggestions to living happier, healthier lives.

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