Everyone hopes for a perfect track season, but more often than not you will end up being sick or injured in one way or another.
It’s up to you to decide when to run and when to rest, but make sure you understand the consequences of doing both.
You should ask yourself the following questions when deciding whether you should run or not.
- How far off is the most important meet of the season? (States, Leagues, Regionals)
- How quickly do you think you can get better?
- Are there any long term health problems that can be caused by exercising now?
Being Sick During Track Season
Whether you’re sick or injured you should be focusing on getting healthier ASAP.
Try to get as much sleep as you can and consider napping after school instead of going to track practice (if your coach approves of it).
If you’re sick, drink warm liquids, try to stay in bed as much as possible, and don’t strain yourself. Rest for days, if you need it.
If you’re injured, depending on the extent of your injury, you might want to foam roll, ice, or heat it, or you might want to try to put less stress on it. You should talk to your coach or athletic trainer about it.
Early Season Injuries
If you get sick or injured early in the season the best thing for most people is to rest as much as possible and not run at all.
You should get back on your feet fairly quickly, and since there are no incredibly important meets at the beginning of the season you will not miss much.
Working through injuries is not suggested as it might injure you more and you will have to miss the whole season.
If it’s early mid season, you should just rest up and hope that you get better quickly, but if it’s late mid-season you might want to see how far off the important meets are and keep exercising while injured/sick at a lower intensity.
If the important meet is coming up soon you should get as much rest as possible and try to get to as close to 100% as you can without running.
At this point you should be cutting back on your running in an attempt to peak anyway, so not running for a couple days and resting might actually result in a PR!
Figuring Out The Cause
It’s always good to try to figure out the cause of an injury or sickness so you can make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Think back to the week before you got sick and think of any instances of you:
- Talking to someone who was sick.
- Getting really warm and sweaty while running and cooling off too quickly.
- Eating old food. (Stomach flu)
If you got injured think about:
- Whether you stretched after every practice and foam rolled daily.
- Whether you might have some muscle imbalances that cause a muscle to work too hard and get injured.
- Whether your shoes are the right ones for the event you run.
Preventing Injuries And Sickness
You can’t prevent everything, but many injuries can easily be prevented by proper strength training, stretching, and foam rolling.
If you don’t already to off-season strength training, make sure you start right away when the season ends and make sure you focus on form first and the amount of weight you’re lifting second!
If you lift properly and stretch and foam roll daily, many injuries can be prevented.
Getting the proper amount of sleep is also crucial as there is a very real possibility of overtraining. You should be aiming for at least 8 to 9 hours a day during the off-season, and 8 to 10 hours a day during the season.