Friday, June 20, 2008

Are Injuries Just a Part of Running?

Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theisman is among those who have lived the "injuries are a part of football" saying. Should we say the same thing about running?

I hate the Redskins. Always have. I can't even stand to hear Joe Theisman do play-by-play for a football game now. However, I would never have wished for the former Washington quarterback's career to end the way it did.

I was over at a friend's house watching Monday Night Football when New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor came around the end of the offensive line, took Theisman down, and I remember wanting to puke watching his leg snap. Then, TV being TV, they replayed it over and over, in case anyone missed it. Taylor jumped up right away, motioning trainers and help over, while both teams and the crowd were hushed as they got Theisman off the field.

It was a big hit, but clean. And everyone agreed and agrees still, injuries are just a part of football. That makes sense--you have 250-400 pound bruisers lining up to put the smackdown on each other every single play. People are going to get hurt, and they know that lining up, hence part of the reason for skyscraper-sized salaries.

But what about running? It's not a contact sport. Most of us never see a dime to go run. We do it because we love it, or because we expect some health benefit from it, or because we are insomniacs, and not being able to sleep, we need something to do to occupy our time...:)

Should we expect to get injured running? We've all heard the advice/admonitions from non-runners, "All that running is bad for your joints, you should take up biking or swimming, or even....[gasp!]...walking." It's much easier on your body.

This line of questioning comes about as various members of the Rise Up Runners have encountered, nursed, and/or come back from injuries during the few/several months we've been running together. Charlie picked up a stress fracture. Joel is day-to-day with foot/ankle troubles at times. Keene faced some big questions/decisions last year on his knee (though rightly, he is kind of old ;). And our latest RUR temporarily on the shelf is Landy, who I hope will post something more about his story, if he's of the mind.

For my part, I don't know the answer to the injury quandary. I am encouraged by older runners, who have run 42 consecutive Boston Marathons. By the 101-year-old runner who wants to become the oldest person to complete a marathon. By the older lady who runs/walks around St. Michaels throughout the year. There are a number of stories of many, many runners in their 70s and 80s, still actively logging miles.

I like to think of running as a positive, life-affirming activity, with the injuries that may come with it as minor setbacks, obstacles, that ought to be rested from, rehabbed past, and returned from, in time, and that the process makes us stronger, smarter runners somehow, and increases our life experience. I've read, and been inspired by, stories of runners of all levels and abilities working through ailments and injuries to do accomplish both great and simple things running.

But I still think injuries suck. And I miss not being able to run with folks when/while they are recuperating. I can guess that six weeks felt like a long time for Charlie. I feel Joel's frustration trying to get his foot/ankle right, and enjoy hearing when he's been out for a good run (since he's too much of a slacker to run early in the mornings these days ;). And I don't at all like not having Landy on the roads for an insane 3:30 a.m. start for an 18-21-mile run. But I very much dig their returns, per Charlie, and look forward to welcoming Landy back very soon. Albeit not soon enough.

1 comment:

landy said...


I'll save my injury report for when I am a little more removed from it, but I hope to share my experiences soon. In the meantime, I throw out the following link .

Perhaps it is more improper form and biomechanics at fault than simply running itself. I do think that listening to one's body becomes more important with age and on this point I failed recently ignoring some prodromal pain in the last month.