When your Mind says Yes, but your Body yells NO

Here’s my confession.  I’ve been in denial for a few weeks now.  Feelings of frustration and stress finally gave way to acceptance. Don’t get me wrong I am still frustrated and stressed, but I can only move forward now that I’ve accepted my fate.

I denied my pain and refused to see what several days without running can do for my body.

Frustrated that even with a conservative approach to building mileage, following the 80/20 rule where 80% of my runs were at a relatively easy pace, I find myself again in an injured state.

I am stressed with the realization I’m only a few weeks away before the start of Chicago Marathon training. It’s when I need to be in tip-top condition, not on the verge of being sidelined.

However, I now accept my mind can’t continue to say yes to running when my body is screaming ‘Heck, NO!’.  If I continue to run, I know I will wreck my chances of doing well in Chicago.


How did I get here?

Although I followed the 80/20 approach, I wasn’t as conservative with the 20% of speed work I was doing.  Five weeks ago while running intervals at a strong fast pace, I felt a slight twinge in my right foot right below my pinkie toe.  I think I was running a lot faster than I should have been.  This is what usually happens when I run with a group.

It didn’t hurt enough to affect my gait so I finished my workout and dismissed it. The next day I could still feel a bit of discomfort while walking.  No worries since I didn’t intend to run until the following day.  While the pain was apparent, it was something I could tolerate so I continued to run throughout the week…and the next…What surprised me was the pain subsided probably because of the down week I had while the kids were in spring break. But then I decided to try something out of the blue.  And this is when my downward spiral began.

The Curse of the Burpees

Two weeks ago, I started adding hill sprints to my training as I plan to use Brad Hudson’s Run Faster training program (with modifications) to train for Chicago.  Hill sprints are one of the key elements in his adaptive training plan to improve neuromuscular fitness.  Brad Hudson wrote in a Runner’s World article the two key benefits of running short steep hills:

First, they strengthen all of the running muscles, making you much less injury-prone. They also increase the power and efficiency of your stride, enabling you to cover more ground with each stride with less energy in races.

I started with 4x10s the week prior and added another rep after a 2 mi easy run to the hill, then did a 2 mi cooldown for a total of 4 miles. No pain at all in my foot.  After my run, I went to the gym to finish with hip and core strength exercises.

Later that evening, I had the urge to try Spartan burpees after I read about it in Joe De Sena’s book Spartan Fit. I’ve done burpees before but not the same technique as shown in the book. Here’s a video clip from the Spartan Race site:

I can’t remember exactly how many I did but it wasn’t any more than 10. It wasn’t until later at night when I felt a slight pain in my right shin.  The foot pain also made its appearance.  Could it be the burpees that caused it?  Or the combination of the stress from the hill sprints and the burpees I did (without a warm-up).

When your body says NO more running

Even with the foot pain, I decided to forge ahead.  I noted on my journal ‘Still have foot pain but not painful enough to cut run short’.  I ran 6 miles that day. And close to 10 miles on the weekend. Did you know research has shown that endurance athletes have a higher pain tolerance than non-athletes?  It’s this tolerance that has gotten me into trouble. At this point, it almost felt like I had an addiction where I feared the side effects of a week without running. It’s my one source of stress-relief.  It’s the only form of exercise where I feel euphoric.   Nothing else is comparable to the way running makes me feel especially when I run strong and fast.

The final straw was a 7 mile run I did last week.  It was a gorgeous day in San Diego.  I set out to run for an hour but I felt so good (relatively since I still had foot pain), I decided to run further.  It was an out and back route. On my way back, I started to feel tightness in my left calf.  Totally brand new since I’ve never had any problems on my left lower side.  I knew then I was compensating to place less impact on my right foot and have changed my gait.  A big warning sign!  If I continue to ignore the signals my body is giving me, it will continue to break down until I’m forced to stop.  So I’ve decided to stop….groan, whine, tears…

Do you respect your body’s warning signals immediately or wait for a bigger signal before deciding to cut off running?  Is there any other activity you find comparable to the feeling running gives you?

I’m linking with Marcia, Erika and Patti for Tuesdays on The Run.  Thanks for hosting!

Have you entered for a chance to win a book for my first giveaway?  I’m gifting a copy of Dr. Stacy Sim’s book, ROAR – it contains a wealth of knowledge about the role of female hormones and its effect on performance.  Head on over to last week’s post, Women are not small men and 5 Truths by Dr. Stacy Sims for more details about the book and enter my giveaway!