I'm Injured. Should I Race?
It never fails - your training plan goes well, you nail your workouts, your mileage is on track, and then with a month to go before race week, that little, hardly-noticible niggle in your hamstring is all sorts of angry.
What do you do?
It’s important to remember that training is always a fine balancing act between breaking stuff down (think post-run muscle soreness!) and building stuff back up (think recovery weeks).
Near the end of a training cycle in preparation for race day, your body has been though a lot. We call this “cumulative fatigue”. We always want your fatigue to be in the positive prior to racing, which is why we taper. Because the time before the taper is the time where you tend to have the highest amount of cumulative fatigue, the risk for injury is high.
Now. Do you race?
As always - the answer is complex, and “it depends”.
A general rule of thumb that we use at TRP is if your pain or injury is causing you to feel that your running style or gait is being altered, then nope. You should not race. Pushing through these types of movement compensations is like a ball of yarn that continues to get more and more tangled as it rolls around the floor - we end up having to “un-do” all of the patterns that your body has devised to keep you going. Often times this can even lead to further injury somewhere else, or on the opposite side of the original problem.
Now, if you can run with minimal pain, that doesn’t occur during running but more after, you may be ok. Sometimes pain after running is acceptable, depending on the type of injury, the timeline, and how long or how intense the race is.
Our final tip is to seek assessment as soon as possible and don’t try to self-diagnose. Sometimes just a small tweak or a simple exercise is enough to nip the issue before it spirals. Remember that our physios see these problems all day, every day - save yourself the anguish and let us do the thinking for you!