Stick or twist? Running through pain

ImageThis is always a tricky one. Generally the clearest advice you get about injuries, aches and pains is rest up, and take it easy. Better take a week or two off now, rather than doing something really serious and face months with your feet up. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a firm favourite catch-all solution – and has a lot to commend it. However, it is fair to say that when I started running regularly, about 18 months ago, if I’d been too cautious and never run through pain, I wouldn’t have got through a tenth of the miles I’ve run to date!

For every advocate of caution, there must be a thousand runners who live by the maxim of ‘no pain, no gain’. And the middle way, which is probably closest to what I’ve adopted, is that if the aches and pains are not feeling worse whilst you are running, you are probably okay to keep on going.  

There’s a helpful starter for ten here at runner’s world, which offers pointers on when you should stop running and when you can carry on. But for all the reading you can do, and all the advice that is passed on at clubs and from old sages, the best advice I could give anyone (as a novice at all this), is that you should go and see a medical expert as soon as possible. It will pay big dividends, and in my case it actually meant I was given the confidence to carry on running (with strict instructions about stretching), at a time when I thought my only option was a few weeks of rest. And, as you may have guessed from today’s chosen topic, I’m off back to see my friend the osteopath tomorrow. My calf muscles feel fairly battered after this week’s runs, so time to get the source of the pain checked out. Regardless of what I find out tomorrow – I think a couple of weeks with less running and more swimming, stretching and strengthening lie ahead. Oh, and I really, really do need to start eating healthy now. Whatever is troubling my legs will definitely be helped by having a few less pounds to carry round…

Saturday’s long run wasn’t actually too bad. In fact I did the required 10miles at a lot quicker pace than my training schedule suggested – closer to 8m30s miles than 9m20s. Not sure if that’s the cause of the pain, as it felt like a very comfortable pace at the time. As ever, the hardest part of the run was getting out of the door, into the cold, wind and rain. But, once out there it was a good breezy run – up the Taff Trail and back. 

The legs did start to seize up a bit later in the day, sat in the stands at Cardiff’s City Stadium – a couple of goals might have helped get me off my chair and moving. 

Saturday’s Long Run – vital statistics

Run: 10 miles, good pace – well ahead of target time. Grim conditions – cold, wind and rain. Out and back up Taff Trail. Legs tightened up in last 15 minutes. 

Spotted: a lone rower tackling a very full and turbulent River Taff; a gang of female runners who seemed unsure about the width of the path we were trying to share (ahem); young lads playing football on a very muddy pitch; older lads trying to play rugby on an even muddier pitch; students clutching Saturday morning reading on the way into university.

Music: Had an emergency refresh of the running playlist, still not got round to a complete overhaul – but the addition of Mt. by the Super Furries was definitely a good shout. The opening three lines are pretty apt to this early stage of marathon training: wasn’t looking for a mountain / There was the Mountain / It was a big f*ckin’ mountain.

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