Tag Archives: recovery

When Running Hurts

27 Jun

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I have to admit – I’ve been a little bit disenchanted with running lately.  Running and I have been in a long relationship for 10-15 years and we’ve had our ups and downs, so these feelings are to be expected from time to time.  We have moments of pure joy and ecstasy, followed by hurt and frustration.  It happens with any relationship.  At this point, I don’t let these bumps ruin what we have – but I tell you what… they are a pain!  My runner’s knee has been frustrating to no end- I still am not really running “pain free.”  Honestly, I’m feeling a bit discouraged – will my knees ever allow me to run wild and fancy-free again?

My other running frustration, asthma, has been flaring it’s nasty head lately too.  What happened to my gleeful runs of just 2 months ago?  You know, the ones where I was fast, fierce, and head-over-heels for running?  Yeah, they are gone for now.  Instead they’ve been replaced by their slower, asthmatic, heavy-breathing, painful stepsister.  It’s not a pretty sight.  Like usual I’m really trying to remain positive and be patient (key word: trying).  But it’s hard!  I want to be back to where I was… can’t I be, pretty please?

Well, since I’m not a fan of pity parties… let’s get productive.  I’ve been doing some brainstorming… what can I do when running hurts?  What can I do when I’m frustrated with running?  How can I feel more at peace about running, or my lack-of?  So instead of letting this frustration eat me up – here are some ideas for moving past the hurt in running.

What to do when running hurts:

  1. Stop.  This may seem like the obvious one… but why is it so hard to do?  As soon as I “shouldn’t” be running, it is ALL I want to do.  Taking a break from running helps your injury (or whatever hurts) recover, but also has the added benefit of giving you a mental break.  Normally when I come back at running following a break, I’m mentally fresh and recharged.  I’m trusting (and hoping) that will happen this time too.
  2. Try something new.  Noooo… I like running, I don’t want to do anything else!  I know, I know.  It’s hard.  It’s even hard for me to type it.  But, it’s possible that a little break from running might allow you (and me) the time to discover a new hobby.  And that’s exciting right?  When I trained for my first marathon I was experiencing stress-fracture symptoms and dove headfirst into swimming and biking (oh yeah, pun intended).  I essentially taught myself how to swim in a lane (a whole story for another day), but it gave me something to supplement my running.  Additionally I enjoyed the challenge of trying to not drown master something new.
  3. Stay away from running.  Sometimes when I’m really down about running, I just stay away: mentally, literally, in every way etc. etc.  I will stop reading Runner’s World (save it in a pile for later) or reading intently all my favorite running blogs or doing anything that could make me feel worse about not running.  It may sound a little extreme, but for me even a slight reduction in running related activities can be mentally helpful.
  4. Get involved with running. So in contrast to the point above… sometimes getting more involved in running “stuff” can be helpful.  Volunteer at a local race, plan for races in the future, or cheer on your friends from the sideline (or blogosphere).  I think it really depends on what particular issue is causing the pain and how you cope.  I’ve used both strategies at different times in my life and they both can be helpful.
  5. Be proactive with injuries.  The best way to avoid a serious injury is to listen to your body when you have a not-so-serious injury.  Take it as a cue to slow down, stretch more, ice more, or reduce mileage.  The sad fact is that running can cause running-related injuries.  Makes sense though.  Sometimes using your head to reduce miles instead of following your heart’s desire to run, run, run, can be most helpful in the long-run (no pun intended this time).
  6. Add in strength-training.  Want to make your body more durable?  Add in some weekly strength-training!  Getting your core and legs stronger will help your body once you do return to running.  Or if you haven’t stopped running, adding strength training now can help prevent injury in the future.
  7. Up the stretching.  This one is a hard one for me to remember.  I think it is for a lot of people.  Time is such a precious thing that spending 10 minutes to stretch after a run seems unnecessary or wasteful.  A whole ten minutes?? Well earth-to-kelly: it’s not wasteful!  It’s incredibly helpful in the prevention of running related injuries.  Can we make a pact that we’ll remind each other to do it?  Everyday?
  8. Don’t play the comparison game.  Gah – another one I stink at.  Don’t compare someone else’s running story with your own.  The reality is: I’m on my own running path and nothing anyone else does will affect my injury, ability, PRs, or races.  That’s a fact.  Try to stay away from letting your mind compare, “I wish I wasn’t injured so I could run an awesome race like Courtney.”  “It’s all because of my knees that I won’t get my PR like Katherine in the fall.”  “I’m not a real runner like Jane because I haven’t been able to run over 2 miles in months.”  It’s just a waste of time and in the end doesn’t result in anything positive.  The comparisons don’t even have to be against another person…sometimes I’m my own worst enemy/critic.  Take the names out of those thoughts and it’s still a negative comparison that doesn’t end well, “I won’t PR because of my injury” or “I’m not a real runner because I’ve been living it up on the coach for weeks.”  There is no winner with the comparison game.
  9. Stay positive!  Most running-related injuries can be overcome with proper rest, care, stretching, and fixing the root cause.  I have overcome running injuries in the past, I just need to remember I’ll do it again this time.
  10. Focus on nutrition.  One thing that often happens when I go from running 40 a miles a week to 10 is I eat the same way no matter the mileage.  This can lead to even more feelings of self pity because then I feel lethargic, and eventually a bit heavy.  This makes it even harder to get back at running when your body/injury is finally ready.  Don’t throw an ice cream pity party – save that for a real break-up.  You know you and running will make-up at some point.  Patience and take good care of your body in the meantime.

Man alive, I feel better already about my little running situation.  Here’s to hoping I can listen to my own words and continue to be patient as my knees recover.  Isn’t that always the hard part though?  It’s always easier said than done.  Well, if you’re struggling with running injuries – know you aren’t alone!  Sometimes that simple fact is helpful enough.

Happy almost-Friday!

-Kelly

What do you do when running hurts?  How do you channel it?