Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Learn how to read!

This week's topic in the Runner's lounge: "Take It and Run Thurday" is Building the miles and going long!

My input this week involves learning how to read your body. As the weather finally warms up and the spring races draw nearer, most of us are adding to our training. We are either adding some miles and or introducing some quality (speed). During any change in our training which requires an increase in effort it is important to determine how our bodies are responding to this change in stress levels. We must learn to read our bodies / to be able to determine what we can ignore versus what is trouble brewing.

Here is a common scenario:

Fred ran 4-8 X's 400 in the first week and that this is the first time he has done any up tempo workouts this season. He wore the same shoes that he has been wearing all winter (250 miles) and they are showing some wear. On this workout, he felt really good and went quicker than scheduled. The next day was an easy run and he felt just a little tight. The next time he ran, his legs felt great so he pushed a little, but toward the end of the run he noticed a slight tightness or pinch in his distal Achilles. After the run, he gave it a good stretch. The next day he felt slight soreness during the day but a mile into his scheduled 10 miler it went away. At 3 miles it comes back and by the end of the run it is more of an aching pain. After he stopped, it goes away so he stretches it out some more. The next AM, Fred can barely walk as his Achilles is very sore and tight.

Where did Fred go wrong in this scenario? How could he have avoided this injury?

The biggest issue here, was his inability too read and listen to his symptoms. When he felt the tightness the first time, he should have used ice on his Achilles and avoided the aggressive stretching. But the biggest mistake was continuing to run during the long run when his symptoms got worse. I advise that when symptoms are felt during a run and they don't go away or they worsen, stop. At least slow down and shorten the work out. ICE and avoid aggressive stretching. If the symptoms had gone away and not returned, he could have finished the work out. It still would have been prudent to shorten the run and ice. If symptoms are felt during the day just walking around, it is better to not run. REST and ICE! No running until pain-free during everyday activities. Then the return to running needs to be a short and easy, followed by a rest day. This will allow Fred to evaluate how the Achilles is handling the return to running with less of a chance for re-injury.
Learn to read your body!

Other contributing factors:
Stick to the scheduled pace especially on the first quality run of the season.
Never a bad idea to break out a newer pair of shoes when doing quality runs or long runs.

I hope this is helpful!


Shelah said...

great advice! It is SO hard for me to stop a run when I start to hurt, even when I know I should. Thanks for the reminder.

steve said...

very helpful - thanks! i think over the years i've been guilty of breaking every common sense rule in the book.

funny thing is, i can advise all my running friends really well...

Tom said...

I've been Fred many times before. Steve's right about how obvious it seems to us to rest, stretch, ice, etc. when we're not the wounded.

Thanks for sharing your advice.

Shilingi-Moja said...

But, if I quit or ice then someone (usually myself) might think I'm a wimp! :)

Good advice. On most runs, I set my pace based on what my body, more specifically my legs, are saying to me.

John said...

Thanks for the comments. Trust me, I have made and will likely continue to make every mistake in the book. Sometimes I really misread my symptoms and pay the price. Maybe we should tell ourselves that it takes more courage to rest than it does to run with pain.