paying attention pays off

It pays to listen to your body and rest when it is telling you to rest.  When I became a certified RRCA running coach we talked a bit about running injuries and injury prevention.  It will probably come as no surprise to you guys that over 90% of all running injuries are from overuse or pushing through pain we should not be ignoring. This means that nearly all running injuries are preventable if we pay attention and ease off when that is what our bodies are telling us to do.

As a Pilates teacher, I am always telling my students to bring awareness to their bodies.  To pay attention to how they are carrying themselves, which muscles they are using and tensing, how it feels to be in their bodies and to move.

As a runner, I make it my mission to carry this same self awareness with me when I am in motion.  How is my posture?  Are my shoulders tense?  Am I engaging my core?  Does anything feel wonky or tight?  How is my breathing?  I mentally scan my body to make sure all is in check and feeling good.  If something feels a little tweaky I make adjustments.  This is just the status-quo for me.

I waited 5 days to run after my marathon.  I ran 11 miles on Friday – they were very slow (a 10:30 pace on average) and peaceful.  My muscles were tight but not sore.  For 5 of those miles I pushed my boys in the double stroller and they kept me company along the way.  It was a recovery run and I felt good at the time.

best running buddies

 But later that night my left hamstring and adductors were not feeling right.  I was almost worried they could be strained.  I also noticed that my glutes on my left side were super tight.  Not painful, but wow – very tight.  So what did I do?  Ice.  Lots of it.  I also spent some time on my foam roller.

And I sat on a ball.  A little squishy but sort of hard green racquet ball.  I am telling you, this thing is the perfect tool for really getting into those glute muscles and the piriformis.  My guess was that the tightness up in my butt was causing the pain down in my hammie and adductors.  Because another thing I know about injuries is that the place you feel the pain is usually the victim, not the cause.  And because I didn’t know if my muscles were just overused or actually strained I didn’t want to vigorously roll those out in case there could be a tear or something.

I took Saturday as a rest day and then Sunday was *supposed* to be my long run day but I made the decision to go for a nice long walk instead.  I knew I needed to move my body but just wasn’t sure if a run was a good idea yet, even at a slow pace.  I went to the gym yesterday morning and did a strength training routine and then yesterday afternoon I went to see the amazing Dr. Wong at United Wellness Center.  He has helped me through so much since having baby Gus – my sprained ligament in my back, my wonky hips, my confidence (I will never forget him telling me “you are not broken”) — all of it.  He is not just a chiropractor, he is a magical muscle worker and he knows athletes.  I have been checking in with him about once a month during my marathon training just to keep things in check.  My appointment for yesterday was already scheduled so it was perfect timing.  He put my mind at ease – there are no muscle tears or strains in my leg!!! – and told me I was doing all the right things.  He also said it is absolutely safe to be running an easy recovery pace right now.  This week I will be running but not pushing my pace or my distance just yet.  This weekend I should be able to do a long run of around 10-15 miles and then next week I should be recovered enough to resume my MCM training plan which involves a couple more speed work sessions, a few more long runs and then taper time…

I can’t help but think to myself: What if I pushed through all that pain, and ran hard anyway?  Where would I be today if I had done that?  I know the answer — I would be injured.  I would be depressed and mad at myself for not listening to my body.  We make choices as runners and we have to live with them.  I chose to run a marathon before my marathon!  I have no regrets.  I learned a lot.  I set a new PR.  But I am still setting my sights on a big PR at MCM at the end of October and if I intend to do that I have to be smart about it.

So, let’s all do ourselves a favor and listen to our bodies today and every day.  If you just raced, hooooray!  Bask in the glory of your accomplishment, learn from your experience, rest and recover, go for a walk or take a yoga class to keep yourself active and busy – and THEN you can get back out there and strive for new goals.  If you notice something just isn’t right in your body – do something about it.  Ice it, roll it, sit on a ball.  Whatever works for you!  Don’t be an eager beaver and do too much too soon because more likely than not, you will pay for it. 

7 thoughts on “paying attention pays off

  1. Being smart definitely pays off. I am glad you held off running this past weekend and got your much-needed recovery in. Great post– We all need this as a reminder every once in awhile!

  2. First off, your boys are SO CUTE! Love that pic. 🙂

    And yes, this is something every runner needs to learn. There is so much info out there about what we are “supposed” to do or what we “should” do before a marathon, after a marathon, when we are injured, during taper, etc. etc. etc. and that is all good to know, but what really matters the most is listening to your body very closely and finding what works for you and what you need.
    Great job and I am so glad there is nothing injured. You are going to have a great race!!! 🙂

  3. Great job on listening to your body and not pushing when you know you should hold back. This is something I am working on – so hard to do, but essential for running long term! Thanks for this post!

  4. I love rolling my bottom around on a tennis-ball sized item too. It's really the only thing (besides an honest to goodness massage) that gets in there.

    I'm doing my best to take your advice and rest. I'm very eager to move on to the next thing, but I know the next thing won't happen if I don't recover from the last thing properly. Patience is a virtue!

  5. I am a new runner but I once was quite the athlete on the high school track. When I was a kid, my first few minutes of practice would be spent in the trainer's office getting all taped up for the day: knees, shins, ankles, feet. Now, I don't have the access to the trainer but my knees are starting to bother me again when I go for runs. Any thoughts?



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.