One of the most recurrent themes on RMA is injury. It’s bound to happen with 7000+ members slogging it out on the pavement and trails right? So I thought that it would be good to have a few articles on here that explain what to do and how to cope with when things like this happen and don’t go to plan.
This was inspired by my recent “incident” which saw me careering off the boardwalk near Scenic World in the Blue Mountains on the first 700m of The North Face 50 training run that I was doing with my running friend Nat.
So, a bit of background. I started trail running late last year. I instantly fell in love and it was in a moment of weakness that I signed up for TNF50km run. I knew I could run 50km, what I didn’t know is that this race is as tough as they come. So last weekend when we got together with my Coach Brendan Davies from UpCoaching to run the first 16.5km leg of the 50k my eyes were opened to the amount of training that I needed to do, both at home and on this course. Hence the reason that I jumped at the chance the following weekend with my friend Nat who is stepping up for the 100km option (yes, I KNOW!!!).
So come the night before the training run and Brendan says to me “you will get to try out your new rain jacket!”, and I was all like ….”oh NOOOOOO”. I love to run in the rain, don’t get me wrong, but trails and rain and me and my lack of experience was going to mean it was going to be an adventure. But the more mud, the more fun they say so we were not put off by the rain. I met Nat up at Wentworth falls and we carpooled to Katoomba at 7am, which meant an hour and a half drive from Sydney where I live and we grabbed our packs that were full with all of our mandatory gear that we would be running with at the event (always practice with everything you will need on race day) and we were off.
As we went down the first little trail section the rain was only light and I remember looking to the right to see if we could see a view and both of us remarking that there was indeed nothing to be seen except cloud and fog, but it was so peaceful and beautiful and I was very much looking forward to forging my way to Wentworth Falls where we had left the other car.
As we came off the first little trail section it turns into a boardwalk that heads down to the first waterfall crossing. All I remember is looking at Nat’s back and BAM. Down I went. There was two steps that went down and I totally missed them. I don’t know if I was fiddling with something, or if I actually remember there was a step but thinking that it was one not two or what happened, but all I know is that I ended up off the boardwalk in the scrub right on my side with a lot of pain, the kind of pain that made me say “I just need a minute” to Nat. She was so good and was asking me where it hurt (whilst holding my ankle!! which I promptly told her to let go of haha!). I told Nat that it was all over and we were only 4 minutes into our run. We hadn’t even cracked a sweat!. She encouraged me to push on, so I tried to hobble a bit further, but it just wasn’t going to happen. After a few more hundred meters I looked at my ankle and it was ballooning up so I told Nat to go ahead while I hobbled back sobbing.
1. Pause the garmin. lol (and I did :))
2. There goes my 6 Foot track race.
3. How long am I not going to be able to run?
It’s amazing as runners how we are so consumed with our sport that our own wellbeing is really compromised by our desire to keep running. Addiction perhaps? Perhaps.
As I hobbled back to my car the pain got worse and the rain got heavier. The stupid thing was that the slippery conditions actually had nothing to do with my trail stack. It was all because I took my eye off the trail. Number one rule….don’t take your eyes off the trail!
this is what I missed!!
I decided to pull over and take off my shoe and stick my foot in the cold water of the flowing waterfall. I sat there for about five minutes before I thought that I may not get my shoe back on to get to my car, so it was short-lived, however It did help the pain and probably the initial swelling for that moment. It was a slow walk back to the car with me fighting back overwhelming tears. Just disappointment really, one for missing that days run and one for what may come….
When I got back to the car I called my husband and told him what had happened but reassured him that I was okay. Then I messaged my coach and let him know also. I had planned to meet Nat half way at Leura so I drove there and on the way stopped at a petrol station and grabbed some ice in a bag. In the car park I elevated my foot on some blankets and put the ice on. It actually felt amazing on my leg. I did that for over an hour until Nat came and then kept it up for the remainder of the day on and off. At Leura I bought a compression sleeve bandage and put that on also. I also had some panadol and Nurofen so I took those and headed home.
I got hubby to take me to the hospital as I thought that an X-ray will at least show me that there was no break. And there wasn’t.
For the next few days I took it easy and iced on and off all day and kept it compressed with the compression and today the swelling has gone down significantly. There is not really any pain, but that can also mean that there could be more damage so I am waiting to see my physio tomorrow to see what he thinks. I still have good range of motion in the joint, just a little weakness, so I think that I may have been very lucky and hopefully I will be back training next week or the week after depending on what he says.
So there is my little story about when I went down.
So the rules of what to do when you go down. . .
1. Seek help.
If you are alone make sure that you always carry a phone with you or a personal emergency beacon if you are going out on a trail far into the bush. Make sure you always let someone know where you are going before you go also so if you don’t return someone can come search for you.
2. If you can hobble to some cold water, immerse your injury in there for a while to limit swelling.
3. Put compression on the injury as soon as possible to limit swelling.
4. Seek medical advice as soon as possible.
5. Apply the RICE priniciple for the first 24-72 hours (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to help the swelling to go down and to allow the affected area to heal.
6. Only get back to running when there is no pain or when you have got clearance from your medical professionals or coach.
**Please seek professional medical advice from your health professional following any injury.