The 1-2-3 Injury Management System

By Run Club Director, Kevin Collins

Editor’s Note: While Kevin wrote this post from the perspective of runners, it can certainly be adapted to all forms of training.

When you get an unusual pain, most of your confusion will come in the form of whether or not you can “train through” the injury. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t, but many of the unexplainable aches and pains are fleeting or have a timeline for exit which is unforeseeable but has their end. Still, you can’t see it. This causes panic. What do you do?

Here is a system you can utilize alongside your logsheets that works, which will tell you exactly what to do based on three potential outcomes when trying to run through the injury each day…

First: Understand that any running injury that comes to you was caused by 1) Too much, 2) Too hard, 3) Too soon. Before submitting to another OFF day, always explore the options between continuing to train to your desire and nothing. There is only one option:

1) Train easier
2) Train less per day
3) Ramp up slower.

Slow the pace down. Shuffle your feet lightly. Find something above a walking pace. All running regardless of pace has some benefits. Remember: You do NOT have to run hard to build endurance, you just have to run often and as much as your body and lifestyle will allow. Building back speed is always easy when your base conditioning specific to running is maintained. If you must scale back minutes or miles, you might find you’ll have to retreat all the way back to 15 minutes only per day and 15 minutes is a run! Here’s how you find out if this is what you need to do or if total rest is the only way….

Try to run today (say your base run is 45 minutes) > record the minutes on your sheet.

The next day: Try to run again > record the minutes on your sheet. NOW write a “1, 2, or 3” in the box next to the date indicated on your log sheet. This number indicates the following…
“1” – The pain I’m feeling is BETTER today than it was the previous day following my run.
“2” – The pain I’m feeling shows NO CHANGE today than the previous day following my run.
“3”- The pain I’m feeling today has WORSENED since my previous day’s run.

If you are getting “3’s” day after day. We know the run as it stands is hurting you and running is the cause. Run LESS and EASIER. Continue this process each day until the “3’s” stop. If 15 minutes at a light jog is STILL producing “3’s” it’s time to accept total rest (no running).

If you are getting “2’s” day after day. We know the run as it stands is NOT making things worse but also NOT making you better. Take a gamble: Run LESS and EASIER or keep running with the hopes that things will improve. Remember, if you aren’t getting “3’s” the injury isn’t getting worsened by your current training as it stands.

If you are getting “1’s” day after day, you won’t be logging #’s very long. You are basically getting increasingly better day after day with no further reductions in effort and time length of runs. Don’t ramp things up until it’s gone!

If you are in a situation where a total rest from running is the answer, it’s time to cross-train. There is no reason to let fitness go! Need help figuring out how to balance your training in a way that works for you? Meet with one of our trainers to determine your best course of action!