Coach Myles: Knowing Your Body
Rule number one of competitive running is that somethings are going to be very uncomfortable. The challenge is deciding when your muscles are just screaming because they’re tired of working so hard, and when there is something physically wrong with them. Is your hip hurting because of the turnover in your stride or because something got tweaked on the trails? Is your calf sore because of the hills two days ago or because it started tearing in two? Is the knee swollen because of the bursa being inflamed or because the patellar tendon is having a tantrum? If the answers to things like these were easy then a whole lot more of us would be healthy a whole lot more of the time. But by attacking these kinds of scenarios with a definitive game plan may help us get through more of them with both our legs intact a whole lot more frequently.
Rule #1: No single workout is more important than the next week or month or season.
As much as it may seem that hitting these track intervals or every single mile of this long run, jeopardizing more days by modifying the present one to your needs because of an issue that you don’t want to become a big(ger) problem is ALWAYS worth the tradeoff. Bet avoiding catastrophic injury against marginal improvement any day of the week.
Rule #2: Consistency is the hallmark of success.
Benefits are reaped at greater heights the more continuous days, weeks, and months of uninterrupted or nearly uninterrupted training are reached. Aerobic development is a continual process. Putting off that workout when there is something worrisome going on in your leg is definitely worth not damaging something and putting on hold that great block of training you’re having.
Rule #3: Prehab is better than rehab
At some point something is going to get sore. That’s a given in running. But at some level it becomes a must to take care of the legs before they even ask you to. The biggest factors that impact keeping your legs healthy and humming and therefore keeping you happy are 1) sleep 2) stretching 3) nutrition. And I would encourage you to add some sort of foam rolling/massage as needed. An extra five minutes are worth feeling better for the next five days.
Staying healthy while running may feel like a delicate balancing act, but it is much better to be at arm’s length from the line on the healthy side than cross an inch over onto the unhealthy side.