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Running through it vs. listening to your body?

I'm still a very novice runner but I've slowly been increasing my distance and speed over the past few weeks.  I find that I'm struggling to find that balance of when to run through it and when to listen to your body and stop.

Does this come with time/experience? Any tips?

For example, the other day I went for a run and felt really crummy after three miles.  Things just weren't clicking and I was ready to give up.  BUT, I kept running and did the five I set out to do.  It felt great when I was done and I was happy I kept going.

Today I went out for six but I started having pain in my groin around mile four.  I ran through it and now I feel AWFUL.

How do you decide when to keep going or when to throw in the towel?  I don't want to hinder myself by overdoing it and being injured.  But I also don't want to set myself up that I can "quit at any time" either. I feel like I can figure out this balance yet!

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Re: Running through it vs. listening to your body?

  • I try to run through mental blocks - sometimes running is more mental than physical. If i'm just having a rough run - not painful, just having a hard time getting into it, i try to run through it. Changing pace (slowing down/speeding up, intervals) can sometimes be helpful.

    If I'm having physical pain, I try to evaluate what is going on (is it something that will go away if I stretch vs. an actual injury). I've had DH pick me up from a run because I was in so much pain. Pushing through soreness is one thing, but I try to be smart about pushing through actual pain.
  • Are you increasing your distance slowly? Too much too soon is definitely going to be hard on your body and lead to injury. Your mileage should increase by 10% a week.And remember running isn't easy!
  • StingShark - good tips on changing pace. I'll have to try that, thank you.

    Joenali - yes, I'm increasing slowly (I think?).  I hadn't heard the 10% measure before... I'll have to implement that idea because I do think I was doing a bit more than that previously.  Thanks!

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  • As the others said, I think it's really important to try to distinguish between sharp pain (muscle, tendon, etc) that could be an injury coming on and just feeling crsppy and having a bad run. If I have a sharp pain for very long, I pay attention. Otherwise I try to push through. Even if I'm having awful stomach cramps or tight muscles I usually just try to switch up my pace and keep going - because those things may happen in a race. I think another good rule if the run isn't starting well is to give it 20 minutes. If you just aren't feeling good, even if it's fatigue, maybe your body is telling you it's low on sleep or fuel or water and it needs a break. I'm not saying you should cut every run short because of these things, but I know sometimes I will just do a quick 2 miles or skip a workout entirely if I'm really low on sleep. Good luck! I know it's hard for me to find the right balance some days too.. It will get easier though!
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  • I agree with PPs.  You just have to figure out the difference between pain and well a day where is is just a sucky run.  For example, I ran 12 miles today and miles 11 and 12 weren't much fun.  I have run a bunch of 10 mile runs lately I am at the point where they aren't that bad, but I haven't done 12 in probably a year.  My legs weren't happy with me about 11 and 12, but I kept going and now life is good.
  • One more thing - look at the choice of works you used.  Feeling crummy vs. pain.  If you are in pain I would stop and walk, if that doesn't help the pain I could call it a day.
  • Definitely agree with PPs, if it's really a sharp pain, I wouldn't run.
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  • As everyone stated there is a difference between bad runs and pain when you should stop.

    Coming from someone who suffered an injury as a new runner - the 10% run doesn't always apply (it can be too much).


  • I think the other posters are right.  You need to learn to distinguish between pain and soreness.  Soreness, or just an off day you can/should try to run through. Pain means you should stop.

    It's often a tricky thing to distinguish!  

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