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Q: My injury has kept me from running. What’s the best approach for turning my lemons into lemonade?
A: First, throw a big pity party! All jokes aside, it is a necessary step in the process. Set a limit though—48 hours, and then it’s time to buck up and get to work on these steps.
Assess your injury, then your upcoming races.
After receiving a diagnosis from the appropriate doctor or health professional, get a sense of the recovery time needed. For upcoming races, how long have you not been running and what is a realistic timeline to start again? Don’t rush it. Listen to when your body is ready versus when your mind is.
Why did this occur? Body imbalances? Training regimen? There is generally a root cause—find it and go from there.
To help find it, I highly recommend Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett. Even if you are not injured, this book is a gem. We all have imbalances, and this will help you find yours and then strengthen it. Create a new habit of daily mobility so when you are ready to run, you are stronger, balanced and “bullet-proof.” Make it happen.
Set goals during your “non-running phase.”
Swim: If you swim Masters three times a week, try four or five days. Move up a lane and hang on as long as you can. If you don’t swim Masters, give it a try. Or commit to increasing your yardage by 35 percent. Make it hard and challenge yourself. Having a numerical goal helps with focus.
Bike: Ride Saturday, Sunday and mid-week. If you ride with power, set a goal to raise your FTP in 4 weeks. Or if you ride the same loop each week, try to do it faster. Or use this run respite as a “bike block” opportunity and try to ride X miles in 14 days. Ride as much as you can and get as strong as you can.
Raising your swim and bike fitness will keep you focused. When you are ready to run, you will have made gains in both sports while also maintaining aerobic fitness. Strength and mobility will help prevent future injuries.
Smile and try not to be angry when you see people running—you will get there soon enough!
Julie Dunkle is owner of San Diego-based Coach2Compete, a certified triathlon and swim coach and a nine-time Ironman finisher with 3 dogs, 2 kids and 1 husband.