Everything is going great; running is like breathing, training becomes the most freeing part of the day, miles fly under your feet rather than passing slowly, and then all of the sudden: ouch! Sometimes, the pain of being told not to run is greater than the actual pain of the injury. But this is the most dangerous time for runners.
When the will to run becomes strong and the injury stops hurting after a couple of days, health professionals can seem ridiculous in saying to wait weeks to get back out there. After all, you know your own body. It feels fine, and surely a short jog wouldn’t hurt? Doctors, podiatrists and physiotherapists tend to be over-conservative in their prescriptions for rest time, right? When we want something, rationalisation becomes easy and the years of training and experience that our medical team have under their belts seem irrelevant. They aren’t.
The pain of not running for a couple of weeks (or even months) doesn’t compare to chronic pain later on, or even worse, a serious injury that could have been avoided if we listened to our health professionals. Many runners know of someone who ran through a minor injury and their recovery took way longer and was more difficult than it would have been had they just hung up their shoes for a few weeks. But, we all have 20/20 hindsight.
Try and see rest as another aspect of training, another chance to flex your mental resilience. Use this time off your legs to get more sleep, gain flexibility, clean up on nutrition you may have been slacking off on, or to strengthen muscles to prevent the injury in the future. Don’t think of your time off from running as regression, think of it as another aspect of training. Your body has told you to stop, and your health professional told you to stop for even longer than you think your body did. But both your body and your doctor know some things that you might find hard to hear. Make sure to listen to them both, in the long run you’ll be back on your feet in no time, and likely find some time for other forms of fun cross-training activities in the interim.