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  • How to come back from a running injury

How to come back from a running injury 

Injured yet again! We have all been in this situation of wanting to give up, both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, injuries are something pretty much any runner has to deal with at some point. Also, any runner who has been injured is familiar with the struggle of keeping the motivation high and the training intact. Because, let’s face it, being injured sucks. 

We decided to interview SAYSKY athlete Kathi Nüser, who has just recently come away from a stress fracture in her heel bone. While spending hours and hours on the bike, in the gym and in the pool, she kept the flag flying high and this inspiring interview below is definitely a must-read for every runner out there.

SAYSKY Athlete Kathi Nüser

Interview with Kathi Nüser

Could you please start by introducing yourself and your passion for running
My name is Katharina, but all my friends calls me Kathi. I am 32 years old and I live, work and train in Hamburg. I work as an assistant to the management team at one of the most famous and largest Fitness Clubs in Hamburg.

I like sports a lot, but my biggest passion is running. I like the challenge and fight against myself during a race. For me, running through the nature is like flying. It’s freedom and it gives me inspiration and power to conquer the day. I run everything from 3000m up to the marathon distance, and my goal is to get faster in every competition. 

You have just recently been injured. Could you let us in on what your injury was? And how long did you struggle with the injury?
The injury was a stress fracture in my Calcaneus (heel bone) and this forced me to stop my training. The injury happened on Fuerteventura during a training camp at the beginning of March 2019. After the first week of very good training, I felt this certain pain after my intervals on my right foot. Next to my own training, I worked at Playitas as a coach for “Runner’s World” Running Camp. I think the rest between my own sessions and “work” were too little, because I was always on my feet!

I stopped running after week two at the camp and decided to do some alternative training - maybe it’s just some kind of tendinitis, I told myself. After two more weeks nothing happened. So back in Hamburg I got a MR scan which could tell me about the fracture, and this meant no running for the next 6 - 8 weeks. In the end, it resulted in three months without running.

How did you keep your motivation high doing this period? Were there any times where you wanted to give up?
I have a strong will. There were times when I was down and felt bad. Especially when you meet friends and they were running, while you had to be at home or in the gym - that hurts.

Running is so much more than just running – it’s also a community, it’s about having fun, enjoying the moments together, the nature and good conversations. I needed 3 to 4 weeks to accept this running break. Quickly, I was looking for some alternative training. I was lucky that the injury allowed me to go biking, do some prehab, aquajogging or swimming. Furthermore, I learned about my muscular instabilities and went for a lot of yoga classes too. I started to bike to work every day, which meant 13km back and forth. Furthermore, I did some stability and strength training. I also bought a racing bike, which I have always wanted to do.

What would your normal day look like being injured? Would you do a lot of alternative training or completely rest?
I truly must say that I moved my body as I needed it. When I was in the mood to relax, I did yoga.

When I needed to sweat, I would go to a spinning class or to the pool for aquajogging. When you are running, you have your specific training plan and you are so focused on that training. With injuries it’s completely different. You really have to listen to your body, and this injury/break helped me to clear my mind and body. 

I would aquajog one time a week, bike a lot outside up to 2-3 hours each time, I would also do strength training one time a week and yoga one time a week. 

Coming out on the other side, do you think you have become “wiser” with your approach to training and running now? Have you done some reflections?
I have definitely come back wiser. You learn to listen to your body. You appreciate what it means to be completely fit and healthy. And after a while you accept the alternative training and you learn to like it. Cycling, aquajogging and strength training will definitely be part of my training in the future. And my motivation and my will are overloaded for the upcoming races.

Do you have any good advice for anyone fighting an injury at the moment?Don’t give up. Focus on the things you are able to do. You have a lot of new free time and space to meet friends, go shopping, drink coffee etc. There is no competition and plans ahead. You are free, so you have to learn to use this time. Sport is important and a passion - BUT not everything. And when you are back in the game, you appreciate your sport and you will maybe find out new aspects of your body.

Do you have any races in 2019? Or are you taking a more relaxed approach to your race schedule?
Of course. I can’t wait to be back on the streets again. Normally, I plan to run a new marathon PB (sub 2:50). But my marathon plans have been postponed to 2020. I think I will stress myself too much to run a high mileage race and especially so soon after the injury.

So, I will rather concentrate on the 5000m distance up to half marathon and want to do well here. The 3rd of August I will do a 5000m in Berlin and hopefully a week later I will compete at a 10.000m. Then the 17th of August, I will do my very first Triathlon at the Allgäu Triathlon and do a half marathon in September/October. I am excited to see how my training will evolve over the next weeks and months.

When an injury like this happen, how do you evaluate what you still want to accomplish
The upcoming goals have to be realistic and not too big. I want to have fun and enjoy the next races. Coming back after a break - whatever how long this was - is not so easy and you don’t want to risk anything to get these injuries back.

Your motivation is higher, and you are back faster/stronger. I just started training and did not know, how it works and how fast I can be in the next weeks. I am excited and looking forward to my next challenges and races. 

SAYSKY Athlete Kathi NueserPhoto credit: Moritz Sonntag Photo & Film

Keep up with Kathi on her Instagram