Getting back to running after an injury

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that I (Flo) have been injured for 3 years and have just recently started getting back to running. My knee injury was a ITB issue, which took about 3 years of back and forth physio, injections and treatments before we were finally able to find what was wrong and fix it. I have been going back to running since November 2019.

A key to my recovery was going to the physio. It is important to find the right one. I have seen 3 physios for this injury and they all had different methods. Only the last one was successful. 

My first visit to my new physio, he asked me what was my goal. My answer was to bike and hike again without pain. He asked me about running. My answer was “to be honest I gave up on running, I don’t care anymore, as long as I can bikejore and hike without pain that’s all I want”. His answer was “well we’ll see about that” (talking about the running).

They gave me some exercises to do to strengthen my butt and my legs. If my butt and thigh are stronger, it releases some pressure on my knee when I run. So even though the pain was in the knee, all my exercises were directed towards my butt and thighs. 

At the physio I was also getting 10 minutes of this giant ice treatment, which was amazing and I loved the relief from the ice.

When I was getting less and less pain, and my last injection finally worked, I worked with my physio to get back into running. At first it was 5 minutes on the treadmill, then 7 minutes, 8, 10…

Then my physio asked to go out for a run in the streets, for 10 minutes at first. And at that time, even though I wasn’t going far, it was still a huge victory to be able to run for 10 minutes!!

The key to recovering from any injury is to celebrate the small victories. I was celebrating every milestone, no matter how small it could be. Milestones like reaching 2k for the first time, then 3k. Imagine how happy I was when I ran 5k for the first time!!

March 8, 2020, about 4 months after my last injection and the beginning of my sessions with my new physio, was my first race back at it.

I had chosen a fun race, because it was the only one close to home around that time. It was a St Patrick’s day race, and because it was my first race back I played it right and got some fun clothing for St Patrick’s. 

I went out way too fast at the beginning because I wasn’t used to racing anymore, and it caught up to me around 3k when I got so tired. But I was so happy to race again, it got me going and I knew JC would be waiting for me with the dogs by the finish line. 

Seeing them by the finish line was such a meaningful thing for me. For the past 3 years, I took the dogs to cheer up on JC’s race. But today, they were cheering up on ME!! I was so happy to cross the finish line for the first time since my injury. It was marking the end of my recovery and a huge victory on the injury. 

A few weeks later, I felt like I was strong enough to try canicross. I had been dreaming about canicross for years! Bikejoring is fun, but when we started the harness sports the goal was to do canicross. So it meant a lot to me to be able to canicross for the first time.

Well let me tell you my legs hurt so much the next day. Man, Luna you killed me!

Another important fact in my recovery was to do a lot of strength training. I had my exercises my physio had given me, and kept working on them. But my body was like new to running, so to avoid another injury I am doing strength training for the core, a lot of single legged exercises for the balance and strength in the ankle, stuff like that. It is not easy to keep strength training in your weekly routine and I know I should do more of it because it is so important. 

Lots of icing as well. I do not only ice when it is painful. Every night before bed time, we ice our weak areas preventatively. So I ice my left knee every day, and it feels really good.

The important thing to remember when you recover from an injury, is to listen to your body. Some days your body will feel amazing, and you are killing it, you are on top of the world. And some days the pain will be back and you feel defeated. It can be hard for your mental health, all these up and down in the pain. But you have to keep going, keep pushing, and keep doing what you do for your recovery because every day will be a tiny progress, which adds up to real progress towards the recovery. 

When you feel like you’ve become stronger, set yourself some goals or challenges. For me, I set the challenge of running every single trail in our local conservation area. It took me 10 runs to complete the challenge, and I ran 70k total. It was a fun challenge keeping me motivated every week as I planned the run to make sure I do not miss any trail on the map.

We are now 9 months post my last injections. I feel really good in my running. But it is never over, you have to keep working. 3 weeks ago a stupid thing happened at home and I broke my pinky toe. It was very frustrating because I was finally starting to increase my weekly mileage and I had big goals for canicross in the fall season. But it is just a setback. I won’t lose all my fitness I acquired in the past few months in just a couple weeks not being able to run again. And when I get back to it, those canicross goals will still be there, and I can still achieve them.

I wanted to use this blog post to say a huge thank you to everyone who have been supporting me during my road to recovery. It felt amazing to feel supported by this community. I shared all my happy moments as well as the set backs with you on social media, and I received so much support every time. 

Support from your friends, family, and community is also another key part in any injury recovery, and I want to say a huge Thank you to all of you for your support during this time!

Now let’s run!

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