March 11


How to Return to Running after a Recurring Injury

By Conor Graham

March 11, 2020

Injury Prevention, racing, Running, running coach, running programme

Do you find your running alternates between fantastic progress and frustrating injuries? 

We often find runners who’ve been strong sports-people in the past but fall into this gruelling cycle. They get really fast gains in fitness over the first few months of training but then find themselves with a niggle which slowly progresses to the extent they simply have to take a break from running. 

Ian Hobson suffered from this exact cycle until he found Cheltenham Running Club. Read on to find out how Ian overcame sciatica, hip and knee problems to achieve an impressive personal best 10k time.


"I’ve played football since I was very young, and running was always part of training. I struggled with injuries, firstly with my knees then sciatica, which sidelined me for weeks at a time. 

I was probably in my early 20’s when I started running for pleasure! I used it as a way of keeping fit for years, but it took me until 2013 to enter any proper events. I entered Cheltenham half with a load of colleagues from work, and followed an online training program, running five times a week and up to 40 miles per week by the end of the programme. I remember feeling tired all the time and my legs just generally aching...I completed the half in 1:32:00, which I was very pleased with. 

Shortly afterwards the sciatica set in again, and I decided that maybe the constant injuries were a sign that running just wasn’t for me. I bought a road bike and got into cycling."


As you can see Ian has huge potential as a runner and would likely be great at any endurance sport he put his mind to. His challenge though is that all those years of sport have created muscle imbalances which lead to pain when the training volumes increase. 


“I did return to running a few years later, entering a Westonbirt 10k race in 2017. Again I put my all into training, pushing myself hard in training sessions and running most days. I managed to stay fit and finished in 43 minutes, which again I was happy with. 

Same story again though, my training following the race caused me to develop a hip flexor problem, and the running shoes were traded for the bike yet again.

After two years on the bike, my fitness was probably the best it had ever been, and I was inspired watching my wife, Nat, do the Cheltenham Half Marathon last year. I wanted to get running again over Winter so signed up for Cheltenham Running Club’s Winter Running Squad.”

Running Squad Memberships

Ian opted for a 6 month Winter Squad membership which included:

  • Unlimited coach guidance
  • Online education on injury prevention, using the online programmes and much more
  • Inclusion in the Winter Squad Closed Facebook group where members post about their runs and support one another
  • 2 x 3 week nutrition programmes 
  • Small group exercise technique sessions where he could learn how to even out those muscle imbalances
  • An online running programme with distances and speeds personalised to his race schedule
  • An online Strength & Conditioning Programme with weights, reps and sets progressing as he get’s fitter.
  • Yoga classes and of course unlimited club runs. 

Unfortunately Ian got a little over enthusiastic before his programme was ready...

Old Habits Die Hard


“I wanted to test my fitness before the training plan started. My cycling fitness meant I could run fast straight away, surprisingly running a 45 min 10k without any training....but then, I realised that was a very bad idea.

I developed a sore Achilles which flared up in the first mile or so of my runs. It got steadily worse each run I went on, to the point where I was having to ice it and walking was painful. This is the point where I knew I needed to be honest with myself, and I needed to stop. 

I spoke to Conor and he advised me to stop running for 2 weeks. This was the start of a long and difficult rehab programme to get me back up to speed.

I was rolling and stretching every day, morning and evening, also trying to strengthen my calves and achilles. This went on for around a month before I was able to walk pain-free and started to jog very slowly around the playing field with the dog.”

Emergency Guidance

Ian was injured before we could even get his programme ready so when he was pain free jogging we would prescribe each run and ask for instant feedback on how it went. We’d prescribe the exact walk and jog durations to alternate between as well as the total session duration and what average speed he was to keep to. 

Thankfully Ian was already using a Garmin running watch so could follow these details well.


“Conor has been really supportive and made sure that I haven’t ramped up the speed and distance too quickly. It took me around 3 months before I was able to run at a pace and distance that I had previously been able to. But once I got there, I was soon running faster and stronger than I ever had. I had kept my fitness during the rehab using cycling workouts, which meant I could ramp up the speed and distances fairly comfortably. I entered the Westonbirt Christmas 10k and the Staverton 10 miler, steadily getting faster and feeling stronger. Bourton 10k was the first time I really stretched myself and beat my Personal Best 10k record by over a minute!”

A Race Strategy was set out for each event Ian entered so instead of taking off like a Bull out of the Gate, Ian paced his runs to allow a strong finish and better overall pacing.


"I feel that the advice Conor has given me throughout the rehab period and more recently during the harder training has given me the foundations to keep running further and faster. It has shown me that I don’t need to break myself every time I run and I actually run faster in races as a result. I feel confident that I can keep improving my fitness and times with Conor’s support and guidance, and look forward to many more months and years of running in the future!”

Now It’s Your Turn

If you’d like the guidance, education and support which helped Ian get out of his frustrating injury cycle then there are two great ways to do it. 

You can join our next Running Squad membership (could be Summer or Winter Squad) if there is an intake starting soon. 

Alternatively, you can join the Premium Membership at Cheltenham Running Club. This membership is available all year round and gains instant access to the Summer or Winter Running Squad whenever they become available.

Unable to train with us in Cheltenham? Join an online membership. 

Both of the memberships discussed have online versions meaning you can do the training when and where you like. Your membership will not include club attendance so will save you on the registration fee. 

Click here to read about the online Squad experience of another successful member...

Conor Graham

About the author

Conor is the Head Coach and Founder of Cheltenham Running and Walking Club.

His experience as a Strength & Conditioning Coach, Triathlete and Personal Trainer ensure members are educated on best practice in regards to training progression while also nurtured through the early stages of fitness development.

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