How to start running again after an injury

Image showing common areas of running injury

Our London Marathon blogger Anne blogs about her recent fall and shares her advice on rebuilding your strength – and your confidence – following a physical setback. Whether you're a regular runner or are just beginning to train, these tips work wonders.

So I’ve fallen at the first blogging hurdle: a lack of posts. Bear with me – there’s a reason. I 'had a fall' (apparently, says one of my friends in the office, once you’re past your 30s you can use this expression!).

I didn’t fall gracefully, nor did I fall whilst paragliding or leaping from a helicopter; I tripped over my feet, splatted on the floor and stood up like a newborn giraffe (without the long legs), with a bruised ego and a damaged muscle.

I took time out, self-Googled and misdiagnosed myself before finally consulting the experts, and now it’s all good. But I learned a few things that I thought I’d pass on to you, if you’re unlucky enough to 'have a fall'. Chances are, even if you’ve never strained anything more than a pan of spaghetti, if you’re running any kind of distance you’ll get injuries, from niggles to real nastiness.

I hasten to add I’m no trained professional, but I got some great tips from my amazing Nuffield Health Sports Physio that I’m sure he won’t mind me passing onto you (he’s a very nice man).

1. Ask an expert.

Nuffield Health were great and quickly diagnosed the issue, providing me with an exercise programme that I’m convinced accelerated my recovery.

2. Rest.

Yes, it’s hugely frustrating but it’s the best way to recover. Be kind to your body. Accept that every runner has injuries – it’s a natural part of running and shows you’re giving it everything.

3. Power walk.

You might be ‘resting’ but don’t do nothing. Personally, walking seems pointless unless it’s to a friend’s house for a drink, or the kids’ school for a curry and quiz night, but hey, it keeps you moving and means you retain your fitness.

4. Build your strength.

Try pilates, weights, kettlebells – anything low impact that helps you build your strength will minimise the risk of overbalancing, going over on your ankle or any other equally-as-annoying issue.

I’ve said it before – it’s all about the core. Don’t believe me? Have a read of this article, which explains that your power comes from your core. Sorry if I just went all philosophical on yo' ass but therein lies the truth.

5. Stretch.

During your recovery and then, of course, before and after your run when you get back to it.

We used resistance bands in Pilates recently and it honestly felt like I’d had a deep tissue massage afterwards. Amazing what those little bands of rubber can do – and we’re not talking Fifty Shades here. I like this one from Amazon.

6. Check your trainers.

I don’t mean because there’s a bad smell around – I mean take them to a sports shop where someone can check your gait.

The wrong trainers for you could lead to injury, from the odd lost toenail to something more persistent.

7. Start back slowly.

I can recommend running with a six year old as a great steady pace-setter (taking your time to stop for snacks, look at beetles or jump in muddy puddles), or a puppy is much the same, but if neither is readily available, just go slowly.

No running apps, no Garmin, no timing – just ease into it, slow down after a while to see how you’re feeling, then slowly start up again.

8. Don’t worry.

Really. You’re not going to suddenly lose your fitness. Experts say you can take two weeks off and get back to your previous fitness level straightaway. Maybe that’s assuming you’re following the above tips and not watching Strictly on repeat whilst eating doughnuts.

Anymore than two weeks and it might take you some time, which leads me to the final point…

9. Have a little patience and believe in yourself.

The finish line is in sight. You can do it.

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Anne Amlot
Anne Amlot