Don Reichelt from BibRave here, sharing my story of how I returned to competitive ultra running post-injury.
On December 8th, 2018, I entered a trail race with full expectations to win. During a hard downhill section, with about nine miles left, I stepped oddly on a rock, and my right ankle rolled over the top resulting in an audible “pop” and immediate pain. I had no doubt in my mind that I had either broken something or ruptured something. It wasn’t good. I was stubborn enough to finish the race, but X-rays later confirmed multiple breaks.
My road to recovery began immediately, and with some diligent rehab, I finished 4th in my “come back” 50-mile race less than six months post-injury. During my recovery, I learned a ton of tips that I’m taking with me to prevent future injury. Here are my takeaways:
Don’t be afraid to get help.
I had never been injured, so of course, I assumed everything in my routine was great. During my rehabilitation phase, I connected with many different doctors and experts that gave me a third party perspective on my training mistakes. If there is one thing on this list that I’d recommend to prevent future injuries, getting outside help is it. Honestly, everything else in this blog post is a direct result of insight from experts. Don’t assume what you’re doing is correct - seek some help, and you’ll be better because of it.
Don’t neglect strength training.
As an endurance runner, I never incorporated strength training. I didn’t realize I had weak glutes until I suffered my injury and needed rehab. With regular strength exercises, I’m a more stable runner, more confident on the trails, and, I experience a lot fewer little aches and pains. Remember, a strong body is a stable body!
Don’t neglect the mobility work either!
Working with my physical therapist post-injury also revealed my limited overall mobility. Reduced mobility can quickly lead to multiple issues, including sprains, strains, and general pains. By utilizing dynamic stretches during and after exercise, and long hold static stretches after my hardest workouts, I’ve been able to increase my range of motion across multiple muscle groups. Excessively tight muscles can be a ticking time bomb for injury. Since incorporating mobility into my routine, my usual problem areas (hamstrings and low back) have immensely improved.
Understand the importance of a rest day
Understanding my body’s need to recover is another crucial habit to decrease my likelihood of future injuries. I ask my muscles to do a TON, and asking day after day takes its toll. I love the analogy of workouts being like a credit card; each workout you’re using credit, and every rest day is a payment against the balance. Too many workouts in a row will max out your body’s “credit,” which can lead to injury or a compromised immune system (a type of injury.) Be a smart athlete and keep your body’s credit cards paid off every week with a rest day!
These habits help me stay confident that I won’t suffer another injury anytime soon. What tips do you incorporate to prevent injuries? Tag AfterShokz on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with your suggestions!