One of the most important parts of being a good athlete is knowing when to stop. I briefly referred to this in my previous post, but it is so important I felt it deserved its own post.
Recovery, this is one of the hardest parts of being a runner, and I can vouch that I struggle to let myself recover. When the legs are feeling chronically empty, or a slight pain that isn’t usually there starts to emerge, this is usually your body screaming out to you to let it recover. I am charged guilty of being awful at this process. When the body is in pain, you push through. Any pain that can be run through, to me, is a pain not worth worrying about. Give it a few days of painful training and it will all be cleared up and gone. This is not necessarily the best mind-set to follow. It can be true, but it can also be completely self-destructive. Running through pain can actually lead towards worsening a mild injury into a more serious one that may involve a considerable amount of rest. As much as I hate to admit it, this is something I did.
Having noticed a slight discomfort at the beginning of January, I chose to ignore it. I carried on training for another week, raced and then felt myself no longer in slight, but immense discomfort the day after. However, this was not the point at which I decided to stop. I had managed to convince myself that the pain was nothing I hadn’t been through before, and after a few days of foam rolling it would be gone. These few days rapidly turned into a week. At the end of the week I then pursued to do a tough and long session. The times were great, but I felt awful. I was in pain from start to finish, pain that worsened in every recovery period, only to shoot up my leg as I started each rep. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t want to stop.
The morning after I was unable to walk, having to slide down the stairs due to the pain being unbearable with every stomp down. This wasn’t normal and I knew I had to do something about it, so I booked an appointment with the Physio. The physio didn’t notice anything majorly wrong and like I had been doing, told me to run through it as it would clear up within a few days. Did this happen, no? Did I continue to doubt myself and run through the pain? Yes. Something I regret to this day. 8 long weeks dragged on. I had a few days’ rest and tried to run again. It was no better, in fact it was worse. I knew this wasn’t normal, so why did I continue? This process went on and on and on. I never gave it enough time. Just as it began to feel a little better I decided to try a run, and surprise surprise, it felt worse.
Eventually it became too much. There I was, six minutes into a very painful “run”, in the middle of a snow-covered field, crying. This had to end. I knew I had to stop, I couldn’t carry on like this or I would never achieve anything. There was no quality to any training I was doing, the only thing to do was rest and RECOVER.
It was following an MRI and an appointment with a consultant that I was told…
‘your body is screaming at you to let it recover, its shouting at you to stop’.
I had to do exactly that. Stop! Just relax, let my body do nothing and recover. At the time, I was in so much pain I thought I would never be pain-free again, but it’s amazing what a bit of rest can do. Another 8 weeks down the line, no weight baring, time off from running, and a bit of bodily TLC, I am finally pain-free. The end is in sight and the point of return is nearer every day.
As you can tell, it wasn’t easy. I struggled to simply stop, but looking back on it now it was the best thing I have ever done. With a clearer, level head, I feel as though I have turned a corner in my running. Mentally and Physically I will be back a lot stronger than I ever have been, and I will also be a wiser runner. I have now seen the importance of rest and recovery first-hand after my first proper serious injury. It just shows you, let your body rest. Without this you will never recover and become the runner you want to be. Respond to your body when it is asking you to stop. Allow yourself time to RECOVER.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!