There comes a point in training when the miles start to add up and fatigue sets in. Aches, pains, soreness. All little signs that it is time to take an unloading week. Reduce miles and effort for a week, assess any damage, and treat anything that can be fixed before you move on to your next phase of training. This is more of a Work-it-out Wednesday.
Your best weapon against these creeping aches and pains is rest. I know, that 4 letter word is painful to read for us stubborn runners. Especially when it comes from a coach. “I’m paying you to tell me to run. You want me to take a couple days off? Pffft. I’m outta here,” as you limp out the door to run. I even have trouble with it myself. If I am not running, doubt starts to creep in.
Am I going to lose that speed I was starting to see at the end of last week?
Will I be ready for my marathon?
If I’m not running as much, am I going to gain 40 pounds before my race?
In reality, you are not going to lose any of the accumulated results from your training by taking a lightened workload for a week. In fact, it could be the make or break period in your training cycle. Would you rather get to the starting line healthy or not get there at all? Sitting out due to injury or over training is difficult. I have unfortunately experienced this and it sucks. I literally watched from the sidelines of the Apple Blossom 10k the first year I planned on running it because I did too much in my training and hurt myself.
Along with reducing your miles and effort, find those sore spots and work them out. Foam roll large muscle groups like your calves, thighs, and butt. Use a lacrosse ball to pinpoint the exact areas of pain. Place the ball on the floor and roll the sore spot over it. Great on calves, heels, the balls of your feet, your butt cheeks. Thrust me, you will feel it. Roll the bottom of your feet even if they are not sore. It will help loosen things up and feels good too.
Get a sports massage. A specialist, like Laura from Fascia Lines, can find the root of your pain issues by just looking at the way you stand or how your body is aligned laying on the massage table. Seeing a skilled massage therapist will help break up any adhesions in your fascia and improve your movement. Sometimes it is not the area that hurts that is the cause of your pain. You could have a sore left calf that is caused by tight hips. Overcompensating for one weakness causes stress on other areas of the body. It works its way down the chain until something gives and you end up injured. A professional can give you tips on stretches or exercises that will help improve your mobility and reduce pain.
Take a step back, get your body right, and attack the next phase of your training in full health. Remember, rest is part of the program.