Injuries, and NSAIDS and Ice Baths, Oh My!
by Tina Bond
Like many of you, I’ve had my fair share of running related injuries. Believe it or not, most of my injuries have been preventable, but I didn’t discover that until I started training for my first marathon. I’ve taken days and months to recover from certain injuries. In this installment, I am going to share with you some of the injuries I have had and what I’ve done to get better.
One of my very first running injuries was the dreaded black toe!! When I got the black toe I learned that one of the causes was running long distance. This wasn’t the case for me because I wasn’t running long distance at that point. My problem was that I was running in shoes that were my regular size. I read more about shoe size and decided to go a full size bigger with my running shoes. Some people consider black toe or losing toenails in general a badge of honor. I considered it a great time improve my toenail painting skills.
SOLUTION: Get bigger shoes!
I am sure a lot of you have had knee pain of some sort or another along your journey! I’ve had pain in both my knees, but at different times. The first time I had knee pain I was training for my first half and the pain was in my right knee. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I went to a sports doctor and he told me I had patellofemoral syndrome (PFS). He said that my knee cap moved while I was running which caused the pain. He suggested leg strengthening exercises and rest till I got better. For this injury I did rest, but failed to do the leg exercises (bad girl), but oddly enough this ailment went away on its own and I haven’t had any problems with it since.
The problem with my left knee has been the toughest injury to heal and to deal with. This injury happened when I was training for my back to back race (the Dumbo Double Dare) coupled with training for my first marathon. This pain was much worse than the PFS. It got so bad that it hurt just to walk. I did not go to the doctor for this one, but I self diagnosed it to be my IT band. I started doing leg exercises (clam shells, squats, wall squats, leg lifts, planks, etc.) and I do think it helped, but by race day I still wasn’t healed so I had a very difficult time running a portion of the marathon. The other reason why this has taken so long to heal is because I ran a half marathon 2 weeks after the full, then the Glass Slipper Challenge about 4 weeks after that. Not my smartest move, but I finished all three races!
SOLUTION: Rest, Ice, Doctor Visits and Strength and Core Exercises
Blisters are the biggest pain in the… foot or toe!! When I very first started long distance running I got blisters all the time. I tried everything: mole skin, special socks, Body Glide, Vaseline, draining and not draining the blisters. Over time, I guess because I just started running more, I got fewer and fewer blisters. However, the best thing that worked for me was lathering up my feet with Skin Strong. Before all of my long runs (anything 10 or more) before I put my socks and shoes on I sit down with a tube of Skin Strong and put that stuff all over my toes and anywhere that I routinely get blisters. Ever since I started doing that, I don’t get blisters anymore.
SOLUTION: Don’t pop it, lather it!
CUTS AND SCRAPES:
Who in the heck injures their hands while running? This girl does! It’s easy to do actually, but I do not recommend it! All you have to do is go running when it is dark outside, without a head lamp, run down the street without street lights and find the one piece of the road that is sticking up and trip on it! Voila, scuffed and scraped hand! I was a mess! I was 4 miles into a 10 mile run when this happened and I said to myself ‘don’t be a wussy! Get up and keep going.’ So that’s what I did. It hurt really bad and I could tell it was bleeding because it was sticky (and I took a picture of it with my phone). It was throbbing with pain. I got to mile 8 when I ran into Jim and showed him what happened. He told me to go home immediately and clean up my hand. Can’t argue with the hubby, so that’s what I did.
SOLUTION: When something like that happens, just go home and clean up your hands! Since it was dark I couldn’t tell how bad it really was. Repeat to yourself “You are not a wussy.”
Ok, this one isn’t really an injury, per se, but it can really put a kink in your run. I know where all the bathrooms are in my neighborhood. Obviously I can always run home if I am close, but when I am not, there is a bathroom at the golf club house so long as it is open. I am also very lucky because my neighborhood is still under construction and you know what that means! PORT A POTTIES!! I absolutely hate using port a potties, but when nature calls it’s either that or a shrub (and shrubs don’t have TP or sometimes hand sanitizer-BONUS!).
I’m going to keep it real for a minute here. There were times when I first started running that I had to run home to use the bathroom because I just had to GO! I tried to figure out what was causing my need to go to the bathroom and found out it was these oatmeal bars with sorbitol in them. Turns out sorbitol gives me the runs on my runs. Needless to say I do not eat sorbitol anymore. Even after figuring that out, I still had problems on my longer runs. I watched what I ate, but nothing seemed to be working so I started drinking black decaf coffee with a little sugar to help get things going in the mornings. This has worked out the best, but I have to make sure I watch what I eat the night before. No cheese or anything else that could cause me to bind up.
Now, some people will say that drinking coffee is bad for you before a run, but I get up at least an hour before I run to have my coffee. I have to so that it goes through my system so I am not running to the port a potty 6 miles in. I’ve also heard that people will take Immodium before a run. Personally, I’d much rather drink a cup of coffee than intentionally bind myself up before a run.
SOLUTION: No sorbitol or cheese and a cup of decaf in the morning! Better out than in I always say!
Yet another injury that occurred while I was training for Dumbo and the marathon. This is another injury that I went to the doctor for because I was so paranoid about not being able to run the marathon. I was relieved when the doctor told me that there wasn’t anything seriously wrong, but he told me no running for a week. Oh, the agony! So by the 7th day I decided to go for a run, but I over did it by running too fast my first time back out. Went back to the doctor and he told me not to run for another 2 weeks! In total I was out due to this injury for a whole month!
SOLUTION: Rest when the doctor tells you to rest and don’t go out there trying to break any speed records your first run back out after being on the IR (Injured Reserve). You can be out for 2 weeks due to injury, illness or rest and not lose any fitness! (I read that in Runners World.)
I wanted to mention NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) because I have read a lot of articles and information regarding these. As an athlete it is recommended that you do not take aspirin, Advil, or Ibuprofen,etc. immediately before or after a run or race. Sure, it is fine to take Ibuprofen days before or after a run, but never during.
The problem with NSAIDS is they are thought to be harmful to kidney function if taken before, during or after a race or training run. NSAIDS may cause an electrolyte imbalance which can lead to reduced blood flow to the kidneys. It can also interfere with the hormones that regulate salt retention in your body, which is why it is important to drink electrolytes when you run. This information was taken from the Disney Princess Half Event Guide.
SOLUTION: Try to refrain from taking anything, but if you have to take something take Tylenol.
Nobody likes the idea of plunging into a bath full of ice water after a long run. The good news is you don’t have to! You just have to jump into an empty bath tub, then fill it cold water past your hips and sit in it for 15-20 minutes! That probably doesn’t sound appealing either, but I’ve done experiments on myself after long runs with and without an ice bath and I always feel so much better after a cold bath! Even after running 18 miles, that cold bath is a welcome feeling because I know it’ll make me feel better after! Even Jeff Galloway recommends cold baths!
SOLUTION: Refer to it as a ‘cold bath’. It may not be as ‘badass’ as an ice bath, but it’s much more tolerable and works just as well!
These are just some of the issues I had while training. Your solutions may be different
than mine. I just wanted to show you that things like blisters can go away on their own the more you run, and some things (like IT band issues) take more time to heal. I do not recommend anyone ‘self diagnosing’ injuries. We are all guilty of doing that. If you have a serious issue you should absolutely go see your doctor.
Tina lives in Orlando with her husband and fellow Moon Jogger, Jim. When she’s not jet setting across the country with her job or running, or training for a race, or recovering from a race, she enjoys reading, photography, movies, music and going to Disney!!