Risks will often arise and they aren’t always in specific make-or-break moments; after all, a race doesn’t depend on a single workout and one run won’t define an entire season. Rather, it’s an accumulative effect; constantly backing off will certainly impact your season but the rare day or two, probably not.
An outside observer such as a coach can be extremely helpful in making the call as to when to push vs. when to back off. “I think as a coach, you have to consistently monitor the runners and really watch them when they are running,” explains Caruana. “Some kids might be hurting and won’t speak up but if you watch closely, you can see that they are compensating for that injury by how they are running. When it gets to that point, it’s time to call it a day for that runner and figure out a plan of action to get past that injury.”
In the end it comes down to the situation, the runner, and how the odds are stacked. Is getting that one-hundred percent out of yourself worth the potential injuries along the way, or are you satisfied with training to ninety percent of your potential but with less chance of injuries? To add more to the table, even that ninety percent doesn’t come with the guarantee you won’t wind up injured the day before your race. Injuries are dark and unpredictable monsters, and sometimes they arise with no rhyme or reason.
In running, injuries do come with the territory; taking every proactive measure to avoid them is wise. But from there, when the risks come up it’s necessary to assess our odds before placing our bets.
About The Author:
Caitlin Chock set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004. Still an avid runner, she works as a freelance writer and artist.