Running Psycho Babble
Psycho Babble #2 (Good Pain/Bad Pain)
I've just finished Lance Armstrong's autobiography "It's not about the bike", what a great read(thanks Richard), it is an amazing story about life, endurance training, cycling, pain and suffering but, most of all triumph over life and sport's toughest challenges.
You don't have to be a top level cyclist to relate to some of the things he mentions when it comes to endurance training (in our case, running). I thought this paragraph was very true....
"The thing that makes winning so difficult, and I mean winning anything, even a five cent ring toss much less the Tour, is that the mind and body almost never work together cooperatively. Mostly we are at odds with ourselves....when the body gets tired it's the job of your mind to override the impulse to stop. Or, when your mind wants more than can rightly be accomplished, it's the job of the body to tell you it needs food and water before it does anything else. Occasionally, the two work in concert, and what happens then is, you fly up the Hautacam. When they work in direct opposition, what happens is, you bonk on the way to Morzine"
Of course he is talking about the Tour De France, the toughest bike race in the world, rode over three weeks. However, his theory can still apply to running.
I have said before the mind is in charge 99% of the time, and in the distances we are running it still should dominant the race. But, of course it is very important to listen to the body. However, that should be done in the lead up to a big run, listen very closely to it then; fuel it, rest it, water it, make sure the body is satisfied and then the mind will do the rest on the day
Another thing that the mind can trick you on is pain. The first few chapters of the book talks about how much pain he was in whilst training and when not training, at times he describes being in agony, but of course as an elite athlete who was used to pushing himself through incredible pain barriers, he put it down to his sport, when in reality it was the pain of cancer ravaging his body. By the time he was diagnosed he was riddled with cancer, because he didn't act on the pain his body was feeling, and he made excuses for it due to his sport.
Pain is a tough one, but, the best is to go on your gut. There is good pain(!!) and bad pain, but knowing when to stop or keep going can be hard. If the pain starts when you are running a long way and you are feeling weary and your muscles are feeling that dull ache, it is probably just your body having a whinge and you need to take charge with your mind. However, if the pain is sudden, sharp, burning or stabbing, stop. If you are still not sure, walk for a bit and see if it subsides then start running again, if it comes back just as sharp, stop running.
Another way to tell the good/bad pain difference is your recovery, if it goes when you stop or after icing it; if it fades quickly; if the next day it is not too bad, but, you can still feel it, it will be Ok to run again in 24 hours. If it doesn't improve; if it is still as strong; if general first aid hasn't helped and it starts up again as soon as you start running, than it will probably need further attention.
Good Pain-muscle pain after a run, that's not intense and fades within 24hours
Bad Pain-Tendon pain, that's usually pain close to a joint and is a sharper pain, it needs to be treated immediately after a run, with ice or anti infammatories, if let go untreated it will turn into "very bad pain"
Good Pain- aches and pains before a run and in the first 10 mins. If you are like me you may be stiff, sore and tight in the early morning and often a run sorts out all those little aches and pains, once you warm up and get into you feel the pain subside
Bad Pain- aches and pains that don't subside as you are running or get worse, don't stop immediately, slow down, check your posture, take some deep breaths, if it persists call off your run
Good Pain- the mental pain in your head! You can sort that one out while you are running without having to stop
Bad Pain- pain that is accompanied with swelling or tenderness, and limits your range of mobility or causes you to limp
Good Pain- the stretch and pull pain when you are stretching after your run. It shouldn't be severe but you will feel some tenderness when you take the stretch further. Remember if a muscle yells at you when you are stretching it, it is yelling for more. Take your stretches very slowly, hold them to a comfortable level and then release them slowly, when you stretch the same muscle again, try to take it a little further than the previous stretch. Three good long stretches on each muscle or muscle group is ideal
All this Psycho Babble is really telling you - get in tune with yourself. Keep a strong focused mind when running, be aware of what your body tells you, just don't let it stop you from achieving your goals. Also, do listen and look after your body on the days you don't run.