In my teens and my 20’s I didn’t have to worry about listening to my body. My body seemed to cooperate with me and my workouts quite nicely. Bouncing back after tough runs or races wasn’t really a problem. Then, after I turned 30 something gradually started to change. My body started to have more of an opinion. I wasn’t handling workouts quite the same way. I needed to stretch more, warm-up more, ice more- you name it. I am 33 and I know that isn’t not “old” by any means. In fact, I feel like I’m in my running prime. I just know that my body needs a little TLC more than it used to and that’s ok with me.
|The lovely ice bath|
|Frozen veggies work too!|
I was able to make it through my past two marathon training cycles healthy and I am very grateful for that. I think I am more thankful for that now than I was at the time. After Houston, I was able to recover quickly and get focused on Little Rock. I ran a 15K and a 10K during this time that helped in my training. The Little Rock Marathon last month went amazingly well, considering it was on a challenging course. However, the hilly course and distance combined did a number on my knees. My right knee specifically.
|At mile 13 of LRM, going up one of the many hills…|
For the past 7 weeks I have been nursing a bad knee. The only other time in my life I’ve had knee trouble was after my first marathon- the one I ran in college. I had not trained over 10 miles and randomly decided to run a marathon after cross country season. I couldn’t have been happier with my 3:45 finish time but I had major IT band/ knee pain for about 2 months. That was over 13 years ago. (Ok, that makes me feel a little old…) Now, I find myself in a similar situation. My pain is not nearly as severe and it actually comes and goes. I don’t feel any pain or discomfort once I stop running or even walking around the house. So do I run through it or stop??
Last spring after a 5 mile “easy run” on the treadmill I knew something was wrong. Something was very wrong. With every step I took I could feel a weird pain in my lower back. An MRI confirmed that I had a sacral stress fracture on my pelvic bone. In this case, it was very obvious that running was not an option. I had to rest, then cross train and slowly over months start running again. It took me months to build my mileage up safely.
So, how do you know when to stop running or run through it? First of all, if you have to ask yourself that question you probably need to stop- at least for a day. A body needs rest to heal itself in the training process. Ask yourself if it is soreness or something more. Does the pain stop when you stop running? When I had my stress fracture the pain/ discomfort was there every step I took. When I stopped running it was there. When I walked around the house it was there. When I leaned and put the weight of my body on a certain side I could feel it. You should not continue to run if your pain is constant. It will only make things worse. In my current situation, my knee discomfort is annoying. It comes and goes throughout my run. When I stop running my knee feels fine. I am confused. I am trying to listen to my body but it is just being unclear at the moment.
So, I googled running through pain. This link was a little helpful but I am still a little unsure what to do in my situation. Basically it lists 3 different types of pain: mild, moderate and severe and how you deal with them.
I have been praying about it and that is a whole other subject. I must admit that many times I feel bad about praying for things like this. Why should I bother God with little things like a pesky knee problem when other people have real health issues like cancer or AIDS? There are much bigger issues going on in the world and why should I bring something this trivial to God? Why? Because He wants us to! I Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (New Living Translation). Sometimes I need to be reminded that God wants us to bring even the most trivial things to Him too. If it matters to us, it matters to God.
Every situation is different and as runners we need to learn what we feel comfortable running through and when we need to stop. I’ve been running almost 20 years now and I am still learning. Sometimes we may just need to rest a day or two. Maybe a week. Or in some cases, weeks or months. I am at the point where something needs to change. I don’t want to keep running this way. I don’t like finishing workouts frustrated and depressed, wondering when my knee will feel normal again.
I have a 5K on Saturday I plan to run in. I have cut my mileage in half and am just planning to race this 5K and hopefully one next Saturday. Then I am taking a break. I don’t want to stop but apparently my body needs me to take a break. Not sure how long…. a week or two or more? I will keep stretching, icing, rolling and cross train a little. I will definitely continue my core challenge. I really want to start my NYC training in July healthy.
My question for you? When do you stop? When do you run through it? Is it always obvious?
So there you have it. I am not sure what to expect out of my 5K Saturday but hopefully I will be feeling good and my knee will cooperate. I’ll let you know…
*** Disclaimer- I am not a physician so if you are experiencing severe pain I would most definitely recommend seeing a doctor and/or physical therapist.