I am 7 days into my recovery from the jarring blow I received to my back last Saturday. The immediate pain was nearly unbearable and as the hours passed all I could think about was how I was going to be able to run with all this pain. Running with back pain is not easy. You use the muscles in your lower back for stabilization, power, and pretty much every other thing I can think of.
Running through the pain is mind over matter, as long as the pain is not structural. I went to the Orthopedist to find out how bad my back really was and it turns out there was no structural damage to the spine. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was muscular damage which meant "rest" was the best medicine. Since I had no intention of sitting around and letting my back pain keep me from achieving my running goals I decided to augment my training plan to make sure I kept some miles under my feet. That meant changing my routes to flatter, less hilly runs as well as backing off the pace.
I did rest for 3 days when I was scheduled to run. That was depressing, but I was still unsure about how bad the back injury really was. The day I got the all clear from the Dr. I decided to take an easy run. It turned into about 4.5 miles of running at an easy 8:15/mi pace. My heart rate was low and my only focus was on not jarring my back too much. In the end, I think that run was a great idea because it not only gave me a rise in my spirits, but my confidence also received a boost.
That short run was painful, as was the 6.5 mile run in the hills I did yesterday, but they were both important to my success in achieving the running goals I have set for myself. I am still committed to increasing my mileage over the next month to a consistent 40 miles per week. Until then, I will be running away from back pain one mile at a time.