QT: Returning to Running After Injury Can Go Sideways if You’re Not Careful

As much as I like to think that most running injuries can be avoided, the fact of the matter is that most of us will wind up some form of running injury at some point in our running careers.

Pretty Much Sums it Up...

Yeah, it totally sucks.

But it’s also the reality for many runners each year.

As such, maybe we should talk a little bit about some guidelines for recovering from injury, eh?

No One-Size-Fits-All Timelines

No surprise here, I’m sure.

The simple fact is that there are dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of variables at play with every injury, so trying to come up with some universal “do this, don’t do that” when coming back from any injury is almost laughable.

To be clear, there are sound principals and best practices that should usually be considered.

But an exact, step-by-step, guide that fits every runner everywhere?

So the goal of today’s episode/post is simple: provide some best practices/sound principals without giving any specifics about timelines.

A tricky needle to thread? Perhaps.

But I’ll give it a shot.

Tips for Coming Back from Injury

One last disclaimer, these tips are going to be generic AF.

Use them to help create your own timeline that is specific to your injury, fitness level, and circumstances.

If you’d like a more detailed/specific road map for returning to running post injury, feel free to set up a phone call and I’d be more than happy to help you put a plan in place.

Fight the Urge to Come Back Too Soon

One of the most dangerous periods of the recovery process from any injury is when you’re back to about 75%.

At that stage, you feel pretty good.

Maybe a little too good.

There are no hard and fast rules for coming back from any injury, obviously.

But, for most of us, when we think we might be ready to get after it again? It’s too early.

And if you come back to early, the chances of reinjury are sky high.

Default to Easy Efforts

Take it Easy after a Sprained Ankle

In a lot of cases, when you do start running again post-injury you need to check your ego at the door.

Push the effort a bit too much? Even to a level that felt fine pre-injury?

And you’re playing with fire.

When coming back from injury, especially if it’s a soft tissue injury, keep your intensity really low.

Err on the Side of Caution

One of the things that seems to trip up a lot of runners when they are coming back from an injury is pushing their luck a bit.

One more mile. Just a little faster. Adding an extra day of running to the mix.

Every time you decide to do a little more than planned, you’re rolling the dice that you could reaggravate your injury.

Better to finish a run feeling like you could have done more than to push your luck and end up doing more than your body was ready for.

Slow and Steady Progress

A loose rule of thumb that I think is worth keeping in the back of your mind while coming back from injury?

Plan on it taking as long for you to get back to where you were pre-injury as the time you spent sidelined due to your injury.

So if you were out for a couple of weeks? It’ll probably take you a couple of weeks to get back to equivalent mileage totals and workout intensities.

Out for a few months? It’ll probably take a few months.

Resist the urge to really try speeding up the process, as that usually ends up taking longer when it’s all said and done.

These are (At Best) Guidelines

Am I saying that if you follow every one of these tips your return to running is going to be smooth sailing?

Of course not!

All I’m saying is that these tend to be pretty sound principles, and ones you’d be wise to keep in mind as you return to running again post injury.

Is there wiggle room?


Just do future you a favor and fight the urge to wiggle too much, or you may wind up back on the shelf instead of getting back to running!

Have You Struggled with Returning to Running After Injury in the Past?

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