Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Your Advice, Wisdom and Encouragement Please. For M and Other "Somewhat New to Training" Runners!

Hey Guys!  So, I got this e-mail from an old friend who I've recently reconnected with after she found Runninghood.  She has just started running again and is wanting to train for a half marathon!  She is ready to take charge of her life and start getting back in shape and reach some big running goals! I'm super excited and inspired by her new goals!  Her e-mails to me have been uplifting and encouraging and it has been wonderful to see her makes the choices in life that say "I'm in control here and I can do it!"  

She has come across some pains/injury recently and feeling discouraged about continuing.  She asks some common questions about shoes, injury, steps to keeping going and staying healthy...some questions we've all had at some point.  I especially wanted to post this e-mail because she is not alone...any beginner/returning/seasoned runner could have written this and I'd like to ask you for some of your wise words for her (and anyone else out there who is in the same boat)!  So, if you would, please share some advice, and words of wisdom and encouragement!  I know that so many of you have many GREAT things to share...I've learned TONS and been inspired by you so I thought I'd share you with my friend.  Sounds like she could use some advice on shoes, injury, realistic race goals (timeline), and getting back in shape without feeling discouraged.  Thanks!  

Hi Amanda,
I am writing to tell you that I've been avoiding you.  I'm super bummed.
Don't ask.
Okay.  I'll tell.
Weeks 1, 2, and 3 of the Sara G. 5-k plan were going great (trying to build my running base)
Week 4 - hit a HUUUUGGGE wall with a fancy injury that I can't name/pinpoint.
So week 4 is a wash and I'm supposed to be doing some active recovery to keep motivated and active. 
But. I. just. want. to. give. up.
It's Wednesday already and I haven't made it to the gym once.  I'm so discouraged and feeling like that Oct. 1/2 is way out of sight.
The fear: I don't know if this week off will be enough or if I get back on the trail only only to find the pain return when I hit that first 1/2 mile mark again.
The injury/pain: I think it started 2 weeks ago when I pushed myself to finish running up a darn hill by my house.  I pushed myself because I knew I could cover the distance and felt the "burn" in my calves was an indication of good work.  The following 4 runs out were marked with this same calf pain (sometimes in one calf, sometimes in the other).  Eventually (when I kept pushing it), the pain wrapped around to my shin and now I have a shin splint to ice each night.
Oy Vey.
Since when is it so dangerous to run up a damn hill in your average neighborhood?
The culprit?  You will cringe when I tell you that I think I hurt my lower legs because I did my first 3 weeks of training with cross-training shoes and not running shoes.  I thought nothing of it since I was covering such small distances.  I also forgot (after visiting Runner's Roost) that I actually require a slight stabililty shoe (for over pronation).
I need some serious advice.  Are my running days over?
I feel dreadful

Also, thank you so much for all of your warm messages about my marathon on Monday.  I've loved all of your comments on my race report/highlights and my mini recap.  I hope to get a chance to respond and catch up with you soon!  



  1. Don't be discouraged! You will be able to get back out there. A month or so into my return to running I had to take two weeks off for some hamstring issues and it was tough, but I kept trying to get back out there and finally did.
    I have to say, too, that I never bought into chiropractor care until I became a runner, but it has done wonders for me. You would be shocked at how many pains start with lower back problems. You might give it a shot! You'll be back out there in no time! :)

  2. Its easier to say now, but when I was injured in the winter (it lasted 2 months) I kept reminding myself that it was my body's way of reminding me I wasn't invincible and to be SMART when running. I did have to scale back the amount of running I was doing, and focused on weight lifting / stretching and other types of physical activity that wouldn't affect my injury. Focus on what you CAN do, vs what you CAN'T.
    With calves, its very easy to have them get super tight and sore suddenly, I HIGHLY recommend getting a foam roller or the stick to stretch them out and release any knots- IT.DOES.WONDERS!

  3. I second the chiropractor care!

    I have pretty much had on and off injuries since I started back to running in fall '09. Sometimes you have to take some time off and other times you'll find that as long as you are running easy, you can work your way through it. I'm currently battling hip flexor issues.

    Ice, stretch, foam roll, NSAIDS, repeat. ;-)

    Make sure you get good shoes if you haven't already. Good luck getting back out there!

  4. Oh, and lower body/core training. DUH! I can't believe I left that out. For me (injury prone), it's ESSENTIAL that I strengthen those muscles and help with any muscular imbalances that I apparently have.

  5. Injuries are the worst... but they help make you realize all the other things you need to do besides just running. Cross-training, STRETCHING, and not adding too much/too quick.

    You'll get over your injury, M. Just take it a day at a time and DON'T push it.

  6. I'm quite new to your blog, but I thought I'd chime in since I just had a not so fantastic podiatry appointment today that makes me feel like I've been shoved into a wall, rather than well, ran into it.

    As many other runners will tell you, get fitted for running shoes, and get them. It actually took me going to a running store and getting fitted for running shoes and insoles to get me into running, since it ended up alleviating some knee pain I was having from my feet not properly being supported.

    As for the injury. I don't have much advice of what to do about that since I don't know much about injuries other than pain here or there which is just from getting stronger. But defiantly not adding too much too fast is good, as well as cross training. My doctor actually told me not to run because of a past injury I had that sometimes affects my hip to the point where I can't walk. I left that appointment so displeased and almost immediately called a friend of mine who is a paramedic who told me to work on strengthening my body in addition to my running, and that by strengthening my body, I would be able to avoid that pain in the future. Which is advice that I just love, because it just makes sense. The stronger that you are, the more your body can handle. I can tell you that after a month of working on strengthening my body, I've had NO problems whatsoever, and I even managed to move quite a bit of furniture around last night, something that would normally trigger the hip pain to come back.

    My last piece of advice to you M, is that once you're full strength again, find something to motivate you. For me it's that doctors appointment where my doctor told me not to run. I want to prove him wrong more than anything, as well as show people in my life that when I start something I see it through. Finding that right motivation can kick you in the butt right when you need it.

    Good luck to you M, and I know that you'll find the motivation and groove that you need to ROCK everything that comes in your path!

    Thanks for posting this Amanda!

    Anna -

  7. I have been through countless injuries and more than countless shoes. I do not believe shoes can ever prevent injuries. Sometimes it's as simple as pushing ourselves too far too soon, or not taking a day of rest when we feel tired. Calves can become a prb and cause shin splints and eventually sfx if they are weak or tight. Hills are hard on our calves because of the push off as we go up. All I can say, and I've been done more times I can count, is that listen to your body.. Do not over think aches. You will heal, get better and run again. This road teaches us many things and it's really full of trial and error.

  8. Hills are going to stress the calves, no ifs ands or's a sign the calves are working and gettins stronger. I'd suggest a massage or physical therapist once a week to work out the knots in the calves. Calf knots can lead to other injuries...

    I'm a firm believer in the right shoes after the disaster of a year I had and I'm also a firm believe of PROPER RUNNING TECHNIQUES.

    As for motivation, try to go watch a race and watch those middle of the packers look of jubilation on their faces when they finish, that sense of accomplishment is the most motivating thing out there I think. Also may try a running group if one's available - when there's others around you, they make you much more accountable - and inspired.

    Don't let your friend give up - she's turning to you for a reason!!

  9. oh man, i can totally feel her frustration! it seems to always happen right when people decided to start making positive life decisions, something keeps them from continuing on the path. make sure m knows that she is NOT alone and we all understand the frustration of injuries!!!

  10. Don't hang it up! But get thee away from the HILLS...if you can possibly do it. Riding a bike to a better / flatter running place for most runs will help a lot!

    Also, DO use some ice and try an ice bath, if you can brave it. It works wonders! And you are on the right track to get some good footwear. :)

  11. I had to take 4 weeks off from an injury and I literally thought my life was over. Still staying active really helped keep my mind at easy... so I did cardio that did not stress the injury and weight training.

    Also, I have started to swim 3 days a week and take and ice bath 3 days a week - The swim loosens up all of my tight muscles and ice baths prevent that really sore feeling. You have to treat your body well if you command such performance out of it! :)

    ps GREAT job on the marathon:)

  12. I had wicked calf knots and cramping when I was starting out running and I now swear by a combination of foam rolling, compression socks, and cal/mag/zinc supplements. And of course stretching and taking rest days when needed!!!

  13. I had this exact same problem when I first began running. I would get shin splints really bad and come to find out I pronated as well. I would recommend easing back into running slowly and possible trying a pair of compression sleaves for recovery.

    Starting is the hardest part. Once she pushed through this everything will fall into place and get better.

  14. No your running days are not over - you're a REAL runner now that you've had a running injury. And real runners have time off, see lots of professionals, spend lots of money dealing with the injury and then they start all over again. It sucks but it's life.

  15. You all are a phenomenal group of people. Thank you for taking the time to help a little ol' miss with her running injury (and insecurities). Your wisdom and support helped guide me back to the gym...and to the check-out counter at the running store for new running shoes. Who would have thought runners needs running shoes? I tsk at myself because I know better. Ha! Thank you for the loads of advice and the notes on cross-training, stretching, icing and the foam rollers. More importantly, I promise to SLOW DOWN! Take care everyone and happy trails!