So I think they call these "niggles."
I legit had not heard that phrase until I went to Utah and now I feel like I've seen it like 100 times all over the internet. Is that a thing? Either way, in case you don't know the definition of niggles:
This is a thing that is bothering you that feels like it could be an injury but isn't quite an injury but you gotta be careful with it because what if it does become an injury and then you gotta sit out for months !
This is such a tricky line, and for once in my blessed life, I don't have a niggle. I think I need to hit myself over the head with a 2x4 for good luck (knock on wood) so that I don't jinx myself right now, but I'm the queen of these. I feel like they never go away to be honest, and sometimes I wonder if that's just part of the game. I've thought that until recently when I made two changes:
Sleep & Less Stress
I am the queen of "ohhh it's not a big deal if I don't sleep. It's not a big deal if I do this and that and as much as humanely possible for a person to do." It was biting me in the butt time and time again. I got to a point where I was just super stressed out and I started eliminating things in my life to where it was just my job, family and training for the time being, and for the first time in 2 years, I have been niggle free for 5 weeks now. This is huge, and now I'm going to be the biggest advocate for those small things that you think are not a big deal but are in fact A REALLY BIG DEAL! I make absolutely certain that I'm getting 7 (at MINIMUM) but hopefully 8 hours of sleep per night, and then as little stress as possible. That's just a tip from the pro of niggles.
But the blog is meant to be about when to push through them and when to stop. I think that this is not something that I'm really educated enough to really write a blog on, so I'm just going to throw that out there. I'm not a physical therapist, and I'm not trained in this area so take my word as a grain of salt in the health professional world and just from experience.
From my experience, there is a big difference in the pain that I feel that I know is from actual injury and then the pain of something that I know is going to go away. You just KNOW. I would get really upset when I knew that whatever I was feeling, I knew was there to stay for a while especially when I was going into Boston because I knew that I had already paid for everything, and I wasn't just going to stop running.
At the first sign of any pain that I feel to be an injury, I stop. I take the rest of that week off from running even if that's on Monday. I know that might seem extreme but I've done this enough times that I know that pushing through pain is just not worth it. Your endurance will resume ASAP from just a few days off whereas if you push through then typically you'll end up being out for weeks. The other week (if you follow my blog pretty closely), I said I felt a little something in my calf and so that Monday after that run, I didn't run the rest of the week. Yes, I continue to cross train (biking/swimming more than usual with the same amount of hours spent training) but I don't do the thing that's hurting it. I resumed that Friday because I felt from walking around that it was fine. And it was. I can tell the calf thing is just a knot so I mean it's kinda still there, but it's a knot and that's very clear so I know it's not a big deal.
If taking time off during the week was something that hurt your performance or ability to do marathons, then I'd be about the slowest and unable to complete any of them. Two of my taper weeks (first and second marathon), I didn't run at all. I did elliptical and thought "well I'll just show up on the day of and see if it's gone" and it was both times. If I had pushed it and told myself I HAD TO RUN then I probably wouldn't have been able to complete those marathons. I'm like a seasoned niggler so I KNOW it's not worth it.
It's also not worth the mental anxiety that you give yourself.
I fuss at Tanner LOTS if he has something of this nature. He gets SO down because he can't progress (he actually has had months now injury free-HOLLAA) but I know that so many others do as well. For some reason, it just doesn't get me down. Time is ALWAYS going to keep ticking and I never plan on stopping this so therefore the time spent off my feet is not a big deal as I know I'll be back in action sooner rather than later if I just sit out a few runs. The one time I got REAL upset was before Boston because my "niggle" had lasted 12 weeks (Can we stop calling it that? I have decided I do not like that word. It sounds too close to another word that disgusts me...). I went to a chiropractor who said she thought maybe I had early stage osteoarthritis (I don't), and I legit went home and balled my eyes out. I thought I was going to have to give up running for good, and MIGHT AS WELL THROW ME IN THE GRAVE (I'm jokinggggg....kinda).
Now, I will say that I know myself and I know that I have a high pain tolerance. If you are someone that gives up easily (I don't mean that mean but I just mean that we all know how to evaluate ourselves), then it might not be something that you should always just give up the run. You have to keep a steady training program going or you really aren't going to be able to keep progressing, so it's that fine line of being able to recognize that. I know myself in that I push REALLY hard all the time, so if I feel something, I know it's something.
I know this is SO vague, and doesn't provide any clear real understanding of what you should do, but I guess my point is that it's OKAY to stay off your feet sometimes. I came back from Boston and after the marathon, things felt fine and then I was able to run an ultra pain free 4 weeks later. You never know what your body is going to do. I haven't felt a pain in that area since, so clearly it's gone.
When I do have an injury or feel like I have one, I typically give it two weeks before I go see someone. It really might just go away on it's own and then you don't have to go through the hassle of the appointments and the copays. Blah blah. I don't just jump immediately and go see someone. It also depends on what it is. I would NOT go see someone even if my calf issue was here in 2 weeks. It's a KNOT. They will just tell me to rest. If they are just going to tell me to rest then I don't need to pay them to tell me that. If I feel I need an Xray to figure out the issue (like my stress fracture) then I will go see someone.
I know it sounds like I'm a big walking mess, but I think it's important to realize that when you are marathon training or training for ultras/ironmans, this is VERY normal. I was talking to the Barlows about this while I was in Utah. He is currently working towards the Grand Slam (4 100 milers in 11 weeks). Do you think he has niggles? UHHH CONSTANTLY. Your body can only handle so much, and so when your hobby is pushing it to the limits, you just have to be mindful and careful! :)
HOPE THIS ISN'T USEFUL TO ANYONE BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL MINOR INJURY FREE!!!