Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Big Running Question: Should I Train Through Injury?

Injuries.  They happen.  But they come with the territory of exercising and maintaining a physically fit lifestyle.  Participating in Ruckus could very cause a small injury or two, but what happens if you get injured before Ruckus...or any other running event for that matter? 

An injury can just be a setback and not a reason to give up on your training.  Sure, Ruckus is a race, so you are running (at your own pace!), but that doesn’t mean the only worthwhile training is jogging.  If you suffer an injury leading up to your 2013 Ruckus event, here are some ways you can continue preparation for your fun in the mud.

Trying Biking
Many are convinced that biking is the best training option for injured runners.  The best part about biking is that you have the option of using a stationary bike or riding on a trail in the fresh air.  Your legs are still the primary recipients of the strength training, and like running workouts, you have the option of doing intervals or a pedaling at long, steady pace.

Water Works
Constant pounding from running on grass or concrete can take a toll on a runner’s calves and shins.  If you are sore from this, try doing some pool exercises.  Running in the water offers resistance for strength building without the wear and tear on your legs.  Swimming laps is also a great cardio work out and strengthens the upper- and lower-body.  Plus, you might be swimming in some mud, so you want to master that breaststroke!

Efficient Elliptical
One of the most common machines at your local gym, the elliptical is a great alternative to running.  The motion closely mimics your running form, but does not require any impact.  Another advantage of the elliptical is that you can choose to work harder on your legs or arms, as both are used to power the machine. 

Pain, Pain Row Away
Few people have access to an actual in-water rowing machine, but the machine at your gym will do just fine.  This is a fantastic exercise for building muscle in the quadriceps and hips, which will be very helpful when attacking Ruckus’ climbing walls, cargo nets and numerous other obstacles.  However, this machine is often used incorrectly, so either study the proper form or ask a trainer for some pointers.

Stair Strength
Much like Sisyphus having to roll a boulder up a never-ending hill, the Stairmaster can be depressing.  But if you can look past its monotony and challenges, you’ll realize how good of a workout stair climbing can be, especially when nursing an injury.  Runners tend to have strong hamstrings, but the muscles targeted on the stairs are the quadriceps and hip flexor, which will lead to better muscle balance. 

So if you think your injury is holding you back from being a RuckStar, think again.  Try these running substitutes and find the one that works best for you, and you’ll be ready come race day!

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