You can google any injury and find a multitude of websites explaining symptoms, possibles causes, recommended rehabilitation, etc. I don’t know if everyone does this, but when I suspect injury I am frantic to find some information about what is going on. The search is a blend of dread and hope. Generally, if something hurts enough to google it, it is probably some sort of chronic injury. Yet, there remains a glimmer of hope, that out there on the internet, is an easy fix. Like, if I tie my shoes a little looser it will fix the tendonitis in my foot. That is rarely the case. Rehab is hard. You gotta foam roll. Stretch. Ice. Strengthen. Get new shoes. Put in arch supports. Finally, the hardest thing to do and sometimes the best is taking time off.
If it hurts enough that you have to change your form, its is best to just stop. I used to think that eventually something would relax, or get strong enough if I just kept running. That worked for me for about five years of running with multiple cases of shin splints, plantar fascitis, IT band syndrome, and tendonitis. Until I got a stress fracture in my femur. I couldn’t run for eight weeks and I was devastated. Because really the hardest part of dealing with an injury isn’t the pain, or the extra time spent rehabbing, its the frustration of not running. It is so hard to get closer and closer to a race and feel like you’re getting slower and slower.
This isn’t an original experience; we all get injured and we all get frustrated from it. Most of us rely on running for more than just logging miles. Most of us have at least some amount of our ego invested in being a runner. Some of us use it for stress management, emotional therapy, or pure enjoyment. So when we can’t do what we want it simply sucks and it messes with our head.
It’s really up to you whether or not you are going to try to work through the injury while training or take time off. Since my stress fracture I ran without injury for about six months and in the past four months I have been running through tendonitis. There were a few weeks in there I cried out of frustration and pain after the majority of my runs. I gotta tell you it might be better to cry just out of frustration from not running than from pain too. Chances are you will get injured at some point. Like I said, if you can’t run like normal, then its better to take time off. Maybe a week, maybe a month. But commit to that time off and cross train and rehab like its your job, or just relax. Catch up on other things. Its important to take care of your mental health when not running. Recognize the big picture; you most likely have years of running ahead of you after you heal up. There is no remedy for being sad, or grumpy or frustrated while injured.