Should You Run Through Pain?

Say you are running and you notice a sharp pain in your calves, should you stop? Or what if you are running and a dull but persistent pain arises in your toes, should you stop? At what point do you chalk a run up to an incomplete and say, "I think it's in my best interests not to run today and to rest my (insert body part)." According to science the answer is you should always stop. Yesterday I learned that very important lesson.

It all went down during the New York Road Runners Marathon Tune Up. It was an 18 mile race consisting of 3 loops around Central Park. So far my marathon training has been perfect with no injuries, tons of noticeable improvement, and nothing but fun times. (Except for last Sunday when I had to take a Pilgrimage in San Diego in 78% humidity. That was awful but the post run fajita made it worth it.)  About 3 miles into the race I developed some pain in my hip. Nothing terrible just enough to be annoying. About 5 miles later the pain started in my knee. It was dull at first and then became difficult to ignore. A loop and a half in I started asking myself if I should stop. And runners I think WE ALL know how this conversation goes...

You say to yourself...

"Ow! That's not normal. Should I stop?"

"It's nothing, keep going."


"OK that's a limp. You need to stop."

"I'm halfway there. And I'm only running 10 seconds slower than normal. It can't be serious if I am still running this fast. Keep going."

"NOPE that is some severe pain. You need to stop."

"Seriously though STOP. STOP and Google if you should stop. Google will know."

"So it's either runners knee, an IT band issue, or you have gangrene. Meh let's just try to keep going. It's only one more lap."

don't you dare

"WOAH going down hill is painful. I'll just walk downhill! Wait. Ow. Ow. Stop for a second. Just stretch it out, you just need to stretch it out."

"Aw yeah, now that feels better. Nope, no it doesn't."

"Just stop. You can walk across this section and get your bag. THINK OF THE MARATHON! If you hurt yourself now you are out of the marathon! That's 5 months of training for nothing! STOP! JUST STOP!"

"Or ask a coach! Ask a coach. No I don't want them to tell me to stop. But you should stop! But I am done in 5 miles. Just one mile at a time. If you have to stop you stop. And if you happen to spot a coach we can ask them."

"Oh look a coach! Wait they want a high five. I can't tell them I may be hurt after giving them a high five! Just 4 miles! That's 2 miles less than a 10k. And pain is like a 6 out of 10. If it gets to a 7 I will stop."

"Only 3 more miles! That's a 5k! You can do a 5k in your sleep!"

"If you just messed up your knee, this is your fault. That was so stupid why didn't you just stop!?!? YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! But only 2 more miles it would be stupid not to finish."

"OK. Final mile. And it's not even hurting really. A 4 out of 10. Maybe everything is OK."

"Oh god that was so dumb. Why didn't you just stop? Smile for the camera! OUCHHHHH. "

"Oh dear, that's a limp. You are limping. You are really stubborn, you know that? You need more therapy. I wonder what my time was..."

I'm being slightly dramatic BUT seriously let's talk about this! There are a billion things I would rather do before quit a race like shave my head, eat a cockroach, or give up chocolate. It's hard to stop. I didn't want to be a quitter. I convinced myself that completing 18 miles was extremely important to my training, which it wasn't. Taking the day off would have been the better choice. I should have stopped at mile 6 because in the long run (PUN INTENDED, ZING) missing that 18 miler and staying injury free was the way to go. Thanks to my stubbornness I get to go to spend money on a physical therapist AND I get to take the week off. HAPPY BIRTHWEEK KELLY ROBERTS, you did this to yourself.

Here's my advice if you ever find sudden pain mid run:

  • If you stop to google whether you should stop, you should stop. (I literally googled "my knee hurts on my long run should I stop")
  • If you feel any sort of pain, stop. Take a day or two off. Then re-evaluate. If there's pain you don't run. It's as simple as that. If for a second you think you should stop, stop.
  • Go to a doctor. I know spending money on something that may or may not exist is the worst. Most doctors are going to give you a lecture about how running marathons are bad for you. Just smile and say, "What will help me get back out there?"
  • Foam Roll. The best way to treat injuries is to prevent them. Not sure how or why to foam roll: It's all right here.
  • Warm Up. Personal trainer Tara wrote a piece on Squat Selfie Repeat about Dynamic Warmups. Read up, watch the video, and incorporate it. Injury free is the way to be.
  • Stretch after you run. As in 3 minutes per stretch not 30 seconds. Serious stretching with breathing, lengthening, and elongating.
  • Eat well. If you are injured your body is recovering give it the fuel it needs. Cut out the sugar and processed foods. Eat less sodium. Eat more fruits and veggies. Eat lean protein. Prepare all of your meals.
  • TAKE THE TIME OFF. An injury isn't going to go away or heal properly if you don't take the time off. It seems counter productive and it's going to be hard. You think "I have the NYC Marathon in 7 weeks, can I afford to take a week off?" No you really can't, but it would be detrimental to continue with an injury. You not only are taking yourself out of the race but you are doing long term damage. If you have to work out, work out your arms. No leg workouts. No excess walking. Avoid stairs (I encounter 8 flights of stairs on my way to work. 8!) TAKE. IT. EASY. Seriously. TAKE IT EASY!

Something is definitely wrong there is no doubt about that. I have a feeling it's IT Band related but I will let you all know what the doctor says tomorrow. FINGERS CROSSED.

Now let's meet our BIRTHWEEK GIVEAWAY WINNERS! Introducing #HottieHunting hat winners from Saturday, Sunday, and today (Monday)!

First up we have @Kykrawz and this awesome action shot! (A perfect example of why you should do a 5k Color Run or Run or Dye. Look at the amount of fun they are having!)

Next up we have the wonderful and inpirational @douceyy and @geekjonesey! Congrats on your 5k! My smile can't get any bigger right now.

And the grand slam goes to @baronvonbrogan. This picture made me laugh when I first saw it weeks ago and then again yesterday when he threw the #RunSelfieRepeat hashtag on it. HOW COULD I NOT GIVE HIM A HAT. I AM CRYING I AM LAUGHING SO HARD. I am framing this and it's going on my dresser.

Alright friends happy birthday eve eve eve eve eve! 4 more chances for a #HottieHunting hat! Keep using the #RunSelfieRepeat for a chance to win!

Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.