If you are a regular blog reader, you know that I am not a running coach or personal trainer and I have absolutely no medical experience. If you aren’t a regular reader, now you know. I wouldn’t normally start a post this way, but due to this post’s topic, I think it is really important to remind everyone of these facts.
If you train with any regularity whatsoever, at some point, you are going to have to deal with pain. There is the good “I had a great workout” tenderness after a good lifting routine. There is the “I may have overdone it a little bit” kind of pain that comes from a hard workout (I would also put post marathon pain in this category). Then there is the “I might have done something to myself” pain, and, even worse, the “oh my, I’m hurt” pain. We all feel some degree of these pains at some point.
Pain is our body telling us that something needs attention. And regardless of how you train, it is important that you listen to your body. The first two kinds of pain on my list usually resolve themselves pretty easily. Slight muscle tenderness allows you to continue training, although I don’t recommend putting more strain by training muscles that are already tender. The second level of pain I list above usually requires a few days of rest and recovery (I generally allow 48 hours of rest for that muscle group when I get that kind of pain).
The last two types of pain are usually something that requires a visit to the doctor. When I get to that level 3 kind of pain, I rest, see how I feel, and if I’m not better, off to the doctor I go. I’m lucky that I haven’t had any acute injuries while running. However, I’ll never forget the day I was doing a step workout at home and when I stepped backwards off my step, I felt something pop in my calf. It turns out it wasn’t a major injury, just a small tear of my calf muscle, but I didn’t take time to evaluate my level of pain. I grabbed an ice pack and hobbled to the car and drove myself straight to an urgent care. I can’t imagine what I could have done to myself had I tried to continue working out with that kind of injury.
Right now, I’m struggling a bit with evaluating my own pain. I’ve mentioned a couple of times previously that I’m having some tenderness in my quads. Some days I have no pain, some days they are just slightly tender, and other days, I’m more in the level 2 range.
They have actually been feeling better since my race, but this week, after 2 runs and one Body Pump class, my quads are back up to what I would consider level 2 pain. They hurt, but the pain hasn’t impacted a workout. The question now becomes, when does ongoing level 2 pain warrant a doctor’s visit?
Today is a rest day. I am foam-rolling this morning (quads and IT bands) and I’m going to carry my runner’s stick with me today so I can massage the same areas a few times throughout the day. I’ll take some ibuprofen today as well to see if that helps. After taking these steps, if things aren’t improving, then I think it’s going to be time to head to the doctor.
Just remember, when you’re having pain, listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard. Running with pain is a huge risk. Always be sure to evaluate your pain so you can make sure to appropriately rest and visit the doctor when needed.