The initial steps to start running again after over 3 months on the injury bench
As soon as I was out of the cast boot I’d been wearing for seven weeks, I was given the green light to start running again. Within this time I decided to have a blood test to see if there were any abnormalities and to be on the safe side. It seemed strange to suffer from a stress fracture, I had been slowly building my distance, going for long easy runs and had been cross-training. What was the cause? Okay, I had just run a half marathon a few days before, but I had no aches or pains, and everything seemed fine.
On the day it happened, it had been raining, and likely we would be running off-road. I decided to leave my new pair of running shoes in their box to not get them dirty. I’ll wear them in on my next run I said to myself. Instead, I put on the shoes I wore for the half marathon and headed up to the club for a group run.
Off we went, I was enjoying the run and having a natter with some fellow runners. We ought to have warmed up more before setting out, but that doesn’t matter now. We ran down quite a steep downward path laden with quite a few stones and tree routes. I took it steadily towards the back of the pack and was being careful not to trip on the uneven surface. Halfway through the run I took a step and felt a slight twinge. This was most likely when I suffered the injury. It wasn’t overly painful, and there were no warning signs at all.
When my blood results came back, it turned out that I had low vitamin D levels (nearly half of the minimum threshold), however my calcium levels were fine! One of the main factors of the injury coupled with running on hard (after a long dry summer), steep, uneven terrain with a pair of shoes where the cushioning had lost its springiness.
Having a low vitamin D level came as quite a surprise, especially given the summer we had just had, one of the hottest ever on record. It was bitterly disappointing to miss out on running the Great North Run on my birthday, this was going be my pinnacle race of 2018. These things happen, what can you do! In some ways I’m glad it happened, it came as bad timing, perhaps it had to happen at some point. I just wish it was after the Great North Run. At least I know now and can keep an eye on my vitamin D and calcium levels. As a result, I have been prescribed a daily supplement of vitamin D.
Although I didn’t crock my ankle and the consultant gave me the go-ahead to start running, I thought it wise to have a physiotherapy examination as well. The physio was extremely pleased, I had no loss of movement and was not concerned about me starting running again. She did advise to not start by running a half marathon straight away! A fracture generally repairs within 6-8 weeks. However, it actually takes an average of three months for the bone to fully heal. I decided to err on the side of caution and initially hold off from running.
“The hardest step for a runner to take is the first one out the door.” – Ron Clarke
It’s been three months since my fracture, and I have started to run again. I’m going back to basics with a run/walk approach, following the original 0-5k program to gradually introduce my body to the ways of running. This will allow my muscles, joints, and bones to adapt to the new demands, and slowly build up my training base once again.
Run 1 – I was a little apprehensive heading out for my first run and wondered if I would feel any pain or discomfort. I decided to go to a local open green space as this would be softer underfoot. I am pleased to say there were no issues, niggles or discomfort. Here are a few stats from the run:
- Average running pace: 5:35/km or 8:59/mile
- Best running pace: 4:59/km or 8:01/mile
- Distance (running and walking): 2.54 km or 1.58 miles
- Total average pace (running and walking): 7:52/km or 12:40/miles
Run 2 – After a rest day, it was time for the second run. As the first run went quite well, I decided to head back out on the road again to see how running felt on a harder surface. It was an evening run, I donned a head torch and hi-vis wear, met a running friend, we warmed up and off we went. Here are the stats:
- Average running pace: 6:04/km or 9:46/mile
- Best running pace: 5:23/km or 8:49/mile
- Distance (running and walking): 2.37 km or 1.47 miles
- Total average pace (running and walking): 8:27/km or 13:36/mile
Run 3 – This time we decided to look for somewhere flat to run. My friend suggested the local running track. Flat and another different surface to run on and try out. It was lovely, very smooth and felt like it had a little bounce to it. A great idea to finish my 1st-week returning to running!
- Average running pace: 5:29/km or 8:49/mile
- Best running pace: 5:08/km or 8:16/mile
- Distance (running and walking): 2.39 km or 1.5 miles
- Total average pace (running and walking: 8:23/km or 13:30/mile
Overall, I was happy with my first week getting back into running and am looking forward to the coming weeks.
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