A few weeks ago, I went out for my run only to realize after a kilometre or so that I needed to turn around and go back home. I wasn’t sick or injured. Just tired. Really, really tired. Burning the candle at both ends made me re-realize the importance of sleep. At that moment I actually wished for an injury – because I felt that would be a better excuse to back off the running, rather than saying, “I need to get more sleep”… Right? Who needs sleep?!
Now I know how silly that sounds. Of course I didn’t actually want an injury. I spent much of the first 9 years after I took up running, fighting my way through one injury or another – starting with shin splints and moving on to IT band issues (quite severe at points – in 2006 I was forced to take nearly 6 months off running). Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis were the last two I dealt with. And then… Nothing.
You’ll not be surprised to hear I credit ‘eating 2 run’ to building a stronger body that is resistant to injury. I’m not superhuman by any means (apparently I still need to get a solid 8 hours sleep every night). I just don’t get injured anymore (knock on wood). Maybe it’s luck. Maybe it is what I eat. Or maybe it’s my cute Nike free fly knits (ha). Personally, I’m pretty sure it’s what I eat… So I keep on ‘eating 2 run’ and plan to do so until the day I run my sub 2-hour half marathon when I’m 80 years old (it’s good to have long term goals right?!).
Now if this was nothing but my personal story, I wouldn’t even bother mentioning it to you. After all, one persons experience alone can be a complete anomaly. But the thing is, when I began to apply the eat 2 run principles to clients who came to me injured, a very cool thing happened. They healed! And quickly.
One client, Catherine, came to me early this year completely sidelined from running, suffering from a hip labrel tear (March 2014). Her doctor offered up cortisone and even surgery. She declined and instead chose to transition to a whole foods anti-inflammatory ‘eat 2 run’ diet – taking turmeric/bromelain and drinking lots of ginger tea – along with physiotherapy. Exactly one month later (April 2014) she ran 20 miles completely pain-free, and in another month ran a 5 minute PR in the marathon (May 2014). She didn’t stop there. Feeling stronger than ever, Catherine trained to run a September marathon, eating 2 run throughout her training – and crossed the finish line of this marathon only a few weeks ago with another even bigger PR, over 10 minutes faster than her May marathon!!
Another client, Robin, came to me suffering from a series of inflammatory injuries that seriously compromised his training (from tendonitis to Morton’s Neuroma). He started ‘eating 2 run’… And within 2 weeks he was back out on the road training. Three months later, he crossed the finish line of his first marathon – completely injury-free.
So how do you help your body to heal?
Here are three suggestions to hasten recovery (and help keep you injury-free for good):
1. Eat Healing Foods
There are many, many antioxidant rich and anti-inflammatory foods that must make up the foundation our nutrition plan is built on, in order to build a strong body that is resistant to getting injured.
In particular, you might try including the following into your daily nutritional habits:
- Tart cherry juice (try this chocolate cherry shake);
- Raw cacao (try these chocolate energy bites);
- Ginger (try this ginger tea)
- Matcha (or green) tea (try this matcha latte);
- Hemp hearts (try these pumpkin hemp muffins); and
- Turmeric (try this zippy kale stir-fry).
If you’re looking for more, our Nutrition for Runners Workshop was created to help you gain a detailed understanding of all the foods to include to ensure your foundation is solid.
Important things to avoid include sugar, processed cooking oils (soy, corn, safflower, sunflower, vegetable) and anything you might have a sensitivity to (gluten, dairy, too much caffeine / too much coffee, alcohol, etc).
To hasten your recovery, you may wish to try the following supplements (on a short-term basis, 2-4 weeks). They are known to help manage inflammation, thereby allowing healing to occur:
- A turmeric/bromelain or curcumin supplement (such as by Natural Factors) – take the capsules between meals, away from food and with lots of water
- A fish oil supplement (omega-3 fatty acid supplement such as by Nordic Naturals)
3. Refrain from Using NAIDs
Refrain from using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. That’s not so say you shouldn’t use them at all, but recent research suggests that NSAIDs may prevent an injury from healing as quickly due to the fact it extinguishes all inflammation – and in fact, some inflammation is necessary for healing to take place. NAIDs appear to interfere with both ligament and muscle strain healing.
It’s no fun being injured, I know. In fact, if you’ve been injured for a while I bet you’re at the point of doing anything to get back out there. That’s what Julie felt like – 3 years ago she had been unable to run for 7 months and was seeing every practitioner out there that might help her to recover from her knee injury. Upon adding ‘eat 2 run’ nutritional strategies to the mix, she was back out on the road pain-free in only one month.
And then there’s Marg – when she began working with me she was battling achilles tendonitis. Having already signed up for her next marathon, she was feeling very discouraged and the possibility she wouldn’t even reach the start line was very real. Marg embraced her anti-inflammatory nutrition plan and with patience over the next few months, her achilles issues faded away. When asked to describe her experience with ‘eating 2 run’, Marg said:
“Best of all, my injury healed and I could feel myself becoming leaner, lighter, and stronger. I finished (my marathon) strong with a leap of victory and joy through that Finish Line! I feel rejuvenated and transformed.”
Personally, my life just isn’t complete unless I’ve gone for my daily run (I know, cheesy – but true… I need to be able to run), so I know how frustrating taking forced time off of running can be. If you’re injured and willing to give nutritional strategies a try, I am sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised in how effective they are. There’s no time like now to begin building a stronger body more resilient to injury!
Eat clean, run strong, be well… Cheers,