No I don’t mean donning a black suit and running covertly about the place making karate chopping motions…….although that does sound quite fun! I’m talking about running with injury.
I do sometimes wonder why do people do it? It seems logical that if something is hurting you should stop what is making it hurt until you have a definite diagnosis of what the hurt is, not mask the pain with ‘go away hurt pills’ and carry on anyway.
So why do so many runners ignore their closest running ally, their own bodies?
Now it could be said that I’m a fine one to talk on this subject given the number of long ultras I cram into my running! Hands up, very very guilty!! I regularly run really long distances but I wouldn’t as a rule run through unknown pain and I am so very grateful that I don’t collect injuries or niggles like medals. (And I am not preaching, the day I become perfect I may give it a go but that certainly ain’t today!!!)
I’m watching so many of my lovely and normally very sensible running friends risk potentially long term chronic injury because they just can’t stop running, even when their bodies are screaming for rest and recovery or they have pain they are ignoring.
In part I do totally understand, I’ve made the call lots of times to run through pain, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with running through pain, provided (and this is a big point) that you know the source and understand the effect that running through the pain may have.
For example I must be one of the clumsiest runners I know! I seem to be all too often tumbling and bashing myself up. The difference as I see it , a trip, a fall and all the other things I’ve ninja’d myself with aren’t going to lead to further damage to my body.
Of course I know the answer to the question, we all do, running is our drug, our family, our soul food!
So what’s the answer? Well I don’t think there is a single answer that solves the problem for everyone but I am a huge believer in cross training. Not putting all your eggs into one basket, or in this case into your legs alone. Running places lots of stress and impact on specific areas of the body and by enduring this stress day in day out just keeps impacts, fatigues and doesn’t actually leave room for muscle repair and recovery.
So, how about thinking of dropping just one run and do something else instead? Something that strengthens other parts of the body? Core, back, arms, mind?!
I have, I’ve run off to join the circus! Aerial circus skills now replace one or two of my runs a week and in conjunction with yoga, spin class and gym work I hope that I will be able to keep performing at the level I am for many years to come.
So occasionally, just sometimes, rather than out on the trail, who’s joining me at the circus………or simply down the pub 🙂