Break Down

This is the third of Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries

This law, according to Noakes, “emphasizes that once an injury has occurred, it is time to analyze why the injury happened.” Unfortunately, when we pick up an injury of some sort of another, we seldom look to the why it happened, and we look to solve the problem with some rest or some pain killers. Instead, we should be thinking about our training and trying to figure out where the breakdown that caused the injury happened.

A lot of the reasons that Noakes gives for breakdowns occurring can be summed up with the acronym TMTS – too much, too soon. “The athlete has reached the breakdown point, usually because a higher level of training has been sustained for longer than one to which the body can adapt. (Noakes 750). He is not saying the body cannot adapt, but it cannot adapt as quick as the runner would like. Take your time and build up your routine, Olympians are not made overnight.

Whilst not really advocating for minimalist/barefoot running, Noakes does so (for me anyway) when he says that injuries “may first occur shortly after the runner has changed to uphill or downhill running, or to running on a beach” (Noakes 750). These different terrains may indeed cause some pain, but that is because the runner is not running on them appropriately. Running in minimalist shoes lets us feel the ground better and adjust our stride and footfall accordingly. With big marshmallows on our feet, it is all too easy to go crashing down a hill, smashing heels into the ground and causing massive impact forces in our knees – with minimal shoes, you are much more aware of what you are doing.

I love this law. Find the breakdown, and then you can fix the problem. You can patch the problem, but a patch will not work if you do not understand why the problem occurred in the first place. You are not supposed to leave readers with a quote, but I will. Next time you get injured, think of this: “Athletes who are frequently injured do not yet appreciate their bodies’ threshold” (Noakes 750.) Learn your threshold.


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