I’m sure you’re all familiar with this classic scene: we find a young lad, usually sitting under a tree, who’s holding a flower. He begins pulling petals off the flower one at a time, going around in a circle and alternating “she loves me” and “she loves me not” with each petal. From the renditions I’ve seen, it usually results in good news, ending with an exuberant “she loves me!”
That’s how I’ve felt lately with a potential injury. Part of me wants to literally find a flower, sit under a tree and rattle off “I’m injured, I’m injured not” until I get to the last petal. It might be the only way to figure it out. I strained my calf ever so slightly while on my adventure run in Charlotte a couple weeks ago. This was weird, because it was a joy run through a freak snowstorm at a very casual pace, albeit a long run. It didn’t hurt at all in the moment, but I could feel that I’d done something minor to it. As a precaution I iced it afterwards, and backed off my miles the rest of the week. Since then it has simply been an enigma. One workout I can at moments feel it acting up and it feels a little sore afterwards, and I’m convinced I should shut things down for a few days to a week. For my next scheduled workout I’ll warm it up really good and begin the workout just to see how it responds, and I can’t feel a thing. And around and around it goes!
There’s such a fine line between powering through something minor because “it will go away on its own, rub some dirt on it, you’ll be fine” and stupidly aggravating something by pushing through when you should have just taken a couple days off. I really dislike taking time off, so I usually compromise by chopping some time and/or intensity and seeing how I feel. My rule is that if I feel pain at all, I have to stop. Sometimes it seems like I can “feel” the area in question, but there’s no pain, so I allow myself to continue. Regardless of how it goes, afterwards I make sure to stretch, ice, etc… the stuff you always hear. I was in a similar predicament at a race last year. It hurt just walking around pre-race, and I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to finish. Instead, it was probably my best race of the season. Other times you start a workout and realize right away you need to stop. It’s weird.
I guess the takeaway for myself and everyone else is to just be careful. Try to form good habits to avoid injuries in the first place such as warming up, stretching, icing, etc. When an injury does rear its ugly head, be smart. I think you can compromise to see how something responds, but use good judgment. Hopefully more times than not, after a short while “I’m injured?” will turn to “I’m injured not!”