Evangeline Colarossi—Staff Writer
Snap, Crackle, Pop. Those three words can refer to the deliciousness of cereal to the seriousness of injury when you’re an athlete. When athletes begin training for the competitive season, a serious injury can set you out for most of or even the entire season.
It isn’t rare to see a student-athlete walking around campus with a brace, sling, kinesiology tape, or other contraptions to help relieve pain or encourage healing. Of the returning cross country sophomores, four of them are currently healing from injuries or have been recently cleared to return to normal training. This begs the question, why are some of the most physically fit students suffering from injuries?
According to the Sports Medicine and Running Training (SMART) Institute, the most common injuries result from overtraining. A study completed by the US National Library of Medicine showed that the top three injuries for long distance runners are shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, and stress fractures to the tibia. These injuries can delay training for two to eight weeks… that is, if they stop training. Continuing to run on an injury can go from a medial pain to a much larger problem with an extended healing process if left untreated.
Anna Vekony is a sophomore at Dordt and runs on the cross-country team. Last season, Vekony suffered from a knee injury and received a stress fracture in her tibia, the front of her lower leg. This year, she was set back at the start of the season with a misdiagnosed injury. After taking weeks off for an assumed stress fracture, Vekony was recently cleared to train again. As it turns out, Vekony has shin splints, which are microtears in the muscle and bone tissue that results from overuse.
Frustration and disappointment were mental setbacks that came along with the physical injuries. She couldn’t run with the team, but instead had to use exercise machines to complete workouts. “It’s definitely not as fun as being with the team,” said Vekony. “I’m excited to get back to racing and talking with people on the runs. It’s easier when you have people to push you.” Watching her teammates continue to run and improve has been hard since she was not able to gain strength alongside them.
This Saturday will be her first time racing this year, though she’s only been cleared to run for a week. Building the muscle strength and respiratory endurance back up can be both encouraging and challenging. Vekony finds encouragement each time she can run further, but is still a long way from her original pace and mileage.
“I’m kind of bummed that I missed most of the races,” she said, “but I’m very excited to get back to it.”