Injuries Can Be An Opportunity - Anna Boniface on her recovery from injury
Anna Boniface is one of Run3D's Sponsored Elite Athletes. She has been on quite the journey in the past year, from winning the non elite womens race at the London Marathon to developing an injury in October. Being an athlete isn't always easy, espeically when we get knocked down with an injury. Anna tells us more...
Sometimes opportunities appear without you realising.
I have been injured since October following a fibula stress fracture at mile 10 of the Toronto marathon. I was of course devastated. Not being able to run and having the next year competing written off has been really hard.
However, I quickly realised that this injury could in fact be an opportunity.
When running 100+ miles a week in the depths of marathon training, strength work was never my priority. Ideally, I would try and hit the gym a few times a week, but around a full time job the run was always put first. Strength and conditioning was therefore only a weekly affair.
Following my assessments with Run 3D, I have asymmetries and weaknesses which impact my running gait and which contributed to niggling injuries. It’s likely that these issues actually played a role in my stress fracture, with the fibula being a non weight bearing bone, its unusual.
Working with the team, we established a strength and conditioning programme specific to improving these areas. With being injured and not running, I have been able to fully dedicate my time to this. I have been surprised at how much difference this has made. The progression I have made has been amazing. The weight I can lift, how many watts I can push on the bike and the propulsion through the water when swimming has improved week on week.
For the first time, I feel powerful. Even though getting back to running is still along way off, I am excited to see what this power will do for my running. Perhaps that long life dream of being able to do a sprint finish will come true! I will continue to work on my weaknesses and embrace feeling strong.
After all, you are only as strong as your weakest point.
1. What would you say is the most important lesson you learned from your injury?
Patience. I realise now that this is something I have lacked.
You have to be patient during injuries. If you rush the process, odds are you going to end up back at square one again. It's hard and I have to trust those around me to hold me back when I get too eager to want to move forwards.
Aqua jogging in a few metres squared of pool will certainly teach you something about patience!
2. Do you find your injury is hard to talk about? Should it be?
Athletes tend to bury themselves away during injuries. You rarely hear about it as they are going through it.
I find it hard being amongst the running environment because I miss it so much - I get a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out) but I think its important to talk about injuries. It's a great for self reflection and to perhaps help others that are going through a similar journey.
3. How has your injury changed your perspective of running as a sport?
Running, particularly the marathon is all about consistency over a number of years. It's about building up the mileage slowly - not just over weeks and months, but over the years. If you start running 100 + miles a week when you're still fairly young, you’re going to reach a ceiling in your training pretty quickly - then where are you going to go?
Distance runners are known to be quite compulsive over tracking trivial stats and I'll be the first to admit that weekly mileage is something I would obsess over.
Becoming more relaxed around running and training is something I hope to take forward from this injury, who knows I may even bin the Garmin.
4. What is favorite exercise?
Cross training exercise is tempo efforts of the Watt bike.
I love plyometrics like box jumps, plyometric step ups, skipping.
Strength and conditioning - deadlift with barbell 5 sets of 5
5. What is your LEAST favourite exercise?
Core - particularly back raises
I avoid the cross trainer like the plague.
6. How many days a week are you doing rehabilitation exercises?
I do a little bit each day but incorporate it into another session. For example before I go on the Alter G I always do my drills and include some light plyo's or if I'm aqua jogging in the pool I'll do some rehab in the water.
Rehab can become momentous so varying it each day makes it more bearable.
7. Do you plan to carry on with cross training and strength and conditioning after you are back to running?
Definitely. Cross training will be essential during my early transition back into proper running and will bulk up the aerobic aspect of my training without the impact.
Even when I'm back running properly, if I ever feel tired, instead of churning out a run for the sake of it, I'll sack it off and head for the pool.
I've been pretty late to the party in realising how important S&C is. My power has improved immensely and it's vital for good mechanics and injury prevention.
For me, it will play a huge part in pre marathon build up strength - so I will have a particular focus during this period and during the main marathon build up phrase continue with maintenance work to avoid overloading too much.
8. Will you continue with distance running or are you planning on going shorter after you recover?
With this new found power from the gym I might have a shot at chipping away at my 5k-half marathon distances, which definitely need some work! Ultimately my heart lies with the marathon but I feel getting some decent 5k and 10k races will be beneficial.
9. What advice would you have for athletes, females in particular, who could be experiencing simliar injuries such as yours?
Be brave, stop, rest and recover.
In the initial stage of my injury, I franticly continued to cross train in desperation not to loose fitness. I achieved nothing but actually setting myself back, not allowing my body to heal. I was clearly still putting myself into energy deficit. My body was screaming for some R and R.
I eventually took a week off and I gained more from this than I did in the 4 weeks previously.
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