How to Survive an Injury Layoff

Caine Warburton offers his views on life with an injury
Caine Warburton offers his views on life with an injury

Unfortunately for a lot of runners (myself included) at some point during our careers suffer an injury, and sometimes more than just once. It’s a terrible time, we get angry, depressed, unmotivated and generally we can be a bit of pain in the butt to be around.

For myself and quite a number of others running is a stress relief strategy that keeps us on an even keel and gives direction to our lives. When that balancing medium is taken away it can be difficult to function.

However, with a plan and a positive outlook you can avoid the emotional pitfalls of injury, stay sane and get back running quicker. Below is a guide to setting yourself up for success when injury strikes.

Step 1: Get professional advice.

Information is the best weapon when you have an injury. As soon as possible go see a registered Sports Doctor and qualified Sports Physiotherapist to establish exactly what is wrong as well as what needs to be done to fix it. It is important to see the Physiotherapist as they will give you a guideline/structure to how to you should progress with strength/rehab as well as providing treatment.

Step 2: Focus only on what you can control.

Now you have the information from the Dr and Physio concentrate only on what you can control, don’t dwell on races you are missing out on or training runs you had planned. Explore cross training options such as biking, gym, swimming and cross-trainer. Depending on what you can do set yourself a training schedule that mirrors as best as possible your usual running program (working within the confines of the advice in step 1). This will help to give you focus during your time off and by keeping your regular routine going it will reduce the shock to your body of stopping training outright.

Getting on your bike is a good way to keep the cardio going
Getting on your bike is a good way to keep the cardio going

Step 3: Be disciplined.

It’s important that you stick to your rehab and cross-training regime no matter how pointless you think it may be. Not only will it help to maintain your fitness, muscle function and neural pathways but it is key to ensuring you maintain a good emotional balance. Always remember “Something is better than Nothing” when it comes to rehab and cross-training.

Step 4: Stay positive.

Injury sucks for sure but it is important to stay positive not only for your own mental health but for those around you….no one likes a whinger! There are always some positives to take away from an injury lay off, for example see it as an opportunity to strengthen other areas of your body such as core stabilization, an opportunity to work on your technique, try a new sport or spend more time with your family/friends. There is always a positive no matter how small to look at.

Step 5: Be patient

When your injury starts to come good don’t rush back out bang out a long run! Be patient with your return to running and follow the advice of the Physio, start small and gradually build up within your pain limits. Too many people (myself included here) have tried to come back to running too quick and spent double the time out injured then they would have if they were just more patient.

All good things come to those who wait yeah?
All good things come to those who wait yeah?

Step 6: Learn from the experience.

The majority of running injuries are overuse based. This means it was a gradual onset that was probably noticed weeks before but we kept running away!. Learn from this and listen to your body when you’re back out running. Early intervention/ prevention is the better than rehab every time!

So next time you are out with an injury, follow these few points to ensure you get back faster, stay happy and keep your friends.


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Caine Warburton
Throughout my adult life running and adventure have been the catalyst for many life changing moments. I am a father, husband, runner and adventurer, each of these things are deeply intertwined. I seek to push my mental and physical limits in the search of adventure and hope to share, inspire and motivate others to do the same.

For me, Ultra marathons are an excuse to spend longer exploring the natural beauty of our world while challenging your mind and body to go places it has never been before.

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