Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Should I Stop Running?

A few people have suggested I take a few days off from running to let my calf heal.  Reasonable advice.  I appreciate the concern for my long-term running health.  If I wasn't trying to keep my running streak alive, I'd lytake a week off and then resume easy running when my calf was feeling better.  That's not what I'm doing.

Tom Osler's "Serious Runner's Handbook" is a nice classic book from the 1970's (published 1978).  It's organized through a series of common questions that runners ask. 

Question #104:
When an injury does occur, should I stop running?

Osler's answer:
In nearly all cases, racing should be terminated, but mild running and walking should continue.  Most running injuries heal far faster if the runner can stay on his feet with gentle activity than if the runner stops training completely.  Frequently, I have seen runners cease training for several months due to injury.  When they start training gain, they frequently rediscover the injury in the very same state as when they stopped running months ago. The body seems to neglect repairing itself when we tell it that it no longer has to work.  Mild short runs and walks increase the circulation to the injury, and remind the body that there is work to be done and healing is required.

My interpretation = Stop racing and serious training, but keep running easy every day.  That's what I'm doing.  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday have all been easy 2-3 mile runs on flat terrain (treadmill, track, or flat roads).  I'll keep going easy until I feel satisfied the calf is better.  I have already seen improvement over the last few days.  Today it feels much better than this weekend. Almost no pain. Just tight and sore.

In addition to Tom Osler's advice, I enjoy thinking about Ernst VanAaken's words of wisdom:

"Run slowly, run daily, drink moderately, and don't eat like a pig." 

You gotta love that guy!  I may regret my decision to stroke my "running streak ego" and keep going while not at 100%.  Time will tell. Again, thanks for the well-wishes.  


Brandon said...

Interesting theory Chris. I'm currently rehabbing my knee, where I'm having some patella tendinitis at the moment. I've tried to run a little over the past couple months and it becomes more sore the next day or so afterwards. I'm following the no-running method at the moment to see if that works, but at some point maybe I'll change my tune.

Keep up the great work with the running streak though!

Chris said...

Thanks Brandon. I don't know if Tom Osler is correct about "running yourself healthy"--but it's worth a shot in my case. We are all an experiment of one and need to do what's best for our unique case.

Ben S said...

I've run through Osgood–Schlatter's, shin-splints, a pulled groin, and a dislocated toe while in junior high and highschool. In college I ran through a season of track with runner's knee. I think it'll be okay. Each time I came through and came out stronger. The only thing I couldn't run through was a bunion. Surgury corrected it and I now have a screw in my first metatarsal. Running is still great, and now that I'm running barefoot and in minimalist shoes I no longer have pain in my feet and knees. Today I finnished day 55 in my streak.

Chris said...


Thanks for sharing your running experience with injuries. My calf has flared up, but I hope to keep running each day.