How to Deal With Injuries on the Trail
XTERRA Ambassador Simon Edgett has been training for ultra runs all winter. When you live in the northeast, that means training in rain, snow, and freezing temperatures from November until April.
“Success in ultras is really dependent on consistent training,” said Edgett. “I’ve been doing a lot of hill repeats and running about 45-55 miles a week, which gives me plenty of time on my feet. About half of that distance is during the week and half on the weekend.”
Still, as Edgett found out during the XTERRA Wawayanda 50K, sometimes bad things (injuries) happen to good people (trail runners).
“A week before the race, I sustained a midgrade ankle sprain while running on the Appalachian Trail,” said Edgett. “It was feeling better and I decided to go for it in the 50k at XTERRA Wawayanda anyway. Four miles in, I hit a branch that I didn't see and later found out I broke a small bone in my left foot.”
Edgett kept going. “About 14 miles in, I stepped on a root the wrong way and re-sprained my ankle. I hobbled to the aid station at the halfway point at mile 16 and called it quits.”
According to SheriAnne Little, head coach, at PRSFit, the best thing to do right after an injury is to apply ice. “RICE is still a good guide to follow: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate. Icing for 20-minute increments is best.”
“If you feel like there is a possible fracture or rupture of a ligament or tendon, or the pain is sharp shooting and persists you should have it examined by a doctor,” said Nelson. “If you heard a sound when you injured the area, you should also have it looked at,” advised Nelson.
As always, recovering athletes should listen to their bodies. “Let pain dictate what you are able to do,” said Nelson. “If it is too painful, continue to rest. If it’s just stiff, then gently stretch and work through a bit of discomfort to maintain mobility in the joint and continue to reduce inflammation.”
In the meantime, cross training can maintain fitness while allowing the body to heal, although that can be difficult for some diehards like Edgett.
“I’ve been trying to get into the pool and on my bike trainer but it’s hard to find motivation. I just love running. It never feels like ‘training’ or ‘working out,’ when I run,” said Edgett. “It’s just me enjoying the trails.”
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