Why pain is your friend?
You should not be trying to ignore pain but instead should be embracing it. Pain tells you when you are pushing enough and when you are pushing too hard. Pain is the leveler. It is your companion on a run and after a hard effort. Pain keeps you on track to achieve your goals and lets you know when they are unrealistic. Pain is not your enemy but is your friend.
When people first start running every step is an effort that requires focus to keep running with the pain. After a few weeks of regular running, suddenly they find it no longer hurts to run and the absence of pain lets them know their running has moved to a new level. It gives them the confidence that better times are ahead.
When you are running hard in a speed session or race the level of pain you are experiencing at different stages of the run helps you keep on a pace that you know you can maintain. The most even pace you can run will give you the best potential result. Your sensation of comfort or distress is the cue that you are running at your best potential pace.
One research study was looking at the effect of NSAIDS on training adaptation. They had their subjects run fast downhill which created a lot of delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS). Half of the group was given pain medication for a few days after the run. A few weeks later they did the same downhill running session. What they found was that the runners who had taken the NSAIDS had more pain after the second session than the runners who just suffered with the pain of the hard training. The conclusion was that pain was a required variable in the adaptation of the muscle to be able to cope with the stress. By taking the pain relief medication the muscle adaptation was disrupted and compromised.
Over 60% of runners become injured badly enough each year that they need to take a break from running. The most important benefit of pain for running is to let you know when you are at risk of a niggle turning into an injury. The severity, duration and effect of the pain directs you to ease back on training or to seek advice. If you are limping from the pain or it sticks around for more than two weeks or is getting progressively worse then you should see one of our podiatrists at the intraining Running Injury Clinic. The pain actually helps reduce the time you may be off running by following the best treatment plan right from the start.
So make pain your friend and you will be able to understand the great benefit that it can bring to your running.
Keen to learn more about running injuries and training articles? Check out our monthly ‘From the Sole‘ newsletter, written by intraining Running Injury Clinic podiatrists, physiotherapist, dietitian and experienced running coaches.