Looking back, I can see where my errors were: Laziness in my strength routine, neglecting important areas like my hips and glutes. And even bigger than that, not stopping running for a week or so when my leg started really flaring up. Here's how you can avoid the same mistakes:
- It's been said 1,000 times, but here I go again--don't run through pain! If you're hurting somewhere--not just sore--running isn't going to make it go away. This applies to those pains that seem to subside as you get into your run, too. You simply can't run through an injury.
- Take time off as soon as you realize that you're really hurting. The longer you run through the pain in denial (like I did), the longer you'll have to take off. Nipping it in the bud at the onset is your best bet for a speedy recovery.
- Examine how you got the pain in the first place--With my ITB, I know now that I had not paid enough attention to my hip and glute strength. Often times, injuries are simply the result of too much/too soon or not enough rest. Figure out your root cause and fix it.
- Take the time to strength train and stretch, regularly. I read recently that elites spend twice the amount of time on strength and flexibility that they do actually running. Yes, it's not the fun part of training, but if it keeps you out there, it's worth it.
- Make ice your friend. When you do have a nagging pain, pull out the ice packs asap.