So, I have not been out for a run in (get this!!!) OVER A WEEK!!!
It started with a tiny, faint pain in my right quadricep about three weeks ago. I could not feel anything while walking or going about my normal daily activities but the moment I started running there it was. Nagging! At first I thought it was my femur bone itself but after a week I realized it was actually the muscle that was aching. And of course I kept on running. Even after the pain could not longer be ignored I went out for my daily run. Towards the end of the second week however, I could no longer talk myself into believing that this was a fleeting pain and I could just continue my normal routine. It hurt. Badly. With every step I took. I also started to realize that I was altering my gait in order to compensate for the ever increasing pain deep within the tissue of my left thigh, my style resembling that of a duck.
As runners we are used to living with aches and pains. As long distance runners we learned to push through those aches and pains. We live by the motto that pain is weakness leaving our bodies and anyone who has ever finished a marathon understands the agony of pushing through the pain barrier to become a champion. Our mind tells us to keep going, that wimping out is not an option, you get up and go out for your run as planned, and you will be able to deal with the pain. It comes in handy during a race, long or short distance. The determination that keeps us from stopping and instead finishing the race no matter what pays off when we cross the finish line and are rewarded by personal achievement that many will never experience.
And as much as it pains us we also know to listen to our bodies when something is not quite right, something feels off. Especially when no race is at stake, no PR needs to be broken. Running through ever increasing pain during training or just every day runs is never a good idea. Last Tuesday I had to admit to myself that I had reached that point, that going out for another run the next day would possibly lead to more damage. I had run with the pain for over a week and it was just not getting better. Quite the opposite. For three days every step had brought agony. I am always one of the first to tell my fellow runners not to push through constant pain, yet I tend to me my own worst enemy. It is always easier to give out advice than to follow your own. I probably should have taken a break sooner, but it annoys the heck out of me having to admit an injury. And with this one I cannot even pinpoint the cause. It was just there one day without warning and without anything that could have triggered it. And it was here to stay, so last Wednesday I did something I have not done in a year: I took a whole day off from exercising: no run, no cross training, just a leisurely walk with Nelson. If you know me, you know how cruel and unusual this is for me. But… I survived and as Thursday dawned I had decided to start a low impact routine that would involve a lot of bike riding. I had already started spinning two months ago and it was now time to dust off my bike and get it back on the road.
And you know what: I am absolutely loving it! The weather could not be more perfect for morning bike rides at the moment and I have fully embraced the alternative routine of riding 20 to 25 miles in crisp sunshine under blue skies. I may even go so far as to admitting that maybe this minor injury has been a blessing as I had no doubt been in a rut with my running. Not training for a specific race can do this and I had been running more or less the same distance and course for a few months with just small variations. Being forced to climb back into a saddle has definitely opened my horizon and I know that even after I can start running again I will take a couple of days a week to ride.
As for my leg: it has not gotten worse but I can definitely still feel it, especially during jumps in my Boot Camp Class and afterwards. But since we are always sore after Boot Camp this is to be expected. Whatever it is that’s giving me pain is deep within the muscle tissue and will take time to heal. That’s OK, it can take as long as it needs. The bike will keep me good company in the meantime.
Today’s Running Tip: Running through pain!
Experiencing aches and pains is very common for runners, especially when training for a race. Muscle fatigue and soreness are normal. If you experience a nagging acute pain that does not go away, especially after the warm up, take it easy for the rest of your run (or stop) and be aware of the pain afterwards. R(est), (I)ce, C(ompress), E(levate) and see if it helps. If the pain persists or gets worse, to the point where you start limping, stop running. If necessary seek medical attention.