Have you ever found yourself starting a long run but somewhere in between battling with your own self if you should quit or not? There are some basic principles that you must consider before you quit. Making the right decision at right time can be tricky but vital. At times one feels that there is no point forcing yourself to run, as that can land you with injury. On the other hand, one knows all long runs are demanding physically and mentally.
Is the discomfort changing your gait or running form?
During long runs, one is bound to have muscle fatigue, hot spots, distress, and discomfort. But you need to know that these things are part and parcel of the long run. However, if the pain lasts for more than a KM and is causing a change in your gait or running form, you must consider bailing. Remember, in such a situation you may cause an injury that can derail your training for several days to a week.
Is slowing down an option?
It may happen that you had planned a run to be completed within a stipulated time or to run at a planned pace and now you feel you need to bail. Maybe you need to alter the pace and time rather than stop. If you slow down, it may bring back your energy levels and provide some fresh fuel for muscles. If you have crossed your lactate threshold then it is obvious that your body will send you signals to bail. Slowing down can bring the levels back to the normal range and will enable you to run.
Stop – Stretch – Run
Many elite runners have practiced this during long runs. If you feel like quitting, just stop for a bit, do some stretching and start again at a slightly slower pace. As you feel comfortable, reach your planned pace. The total time loss can be 2 to 3 minutes which may sound heavy but you will agree that it is better than quitting.
Many a time especially in cold weather one doesn’t feel thirsty and hence avoids hydrating during a run. However, our body keeps losing fluid and hence needs to be hydrated. During long runs, we are able to run the initial part well without drinking fluids. Once our body reaches the threshold where it has lost enough of micro-minerals and fluid, it gives a signal to the body to simply stop. If you have done this mistake, then it is wise to call off the run. It takes time for the body to replenish lost fluids and essentials. Forcing yourself can cause cramps and lead to some serious injury too.
Recognize the signal from your brain. It may have happened that you had a stressful and mentally tiring week. Since you feel physically fit, you feel you can do a long run. But remember you need your mind along with your body to complete the task. For some a run reboots them mentally. If that is the case, you should not bail. Always consider your mental condition while taking a decision to bail out of your run or not.
Remember your goal
Ask yourself two questions, “What are you training for?” “Is this run part of your training program?” If your goal is to train for a specific distance or an event then you will have to weigh the importance of the long run and your goal distance. Also if the run is an essential part of training, you may consider completing it even with some discomfort. But do not forget the basic rule of change in gait or running form where it is essential to bail.
Recognize a bad patch
Many runners feel that they started strong but somewhere in between had hit a bad patch which forced them to consider if they need to stop. You must give yourself some time to get out of the bad patch of your run. Try to make a small change in pace, cadence, arms position, breathing pattern, or focus. These changes may help you pass your bad patch and subsequently get back to your run. Do not force yourself towards a rigid plan. Be flexible during the run.
The final message
Once you feel you must bail, do not make a decision immediately. Analyze what you are going through and why you are feeling differently on that day or during that part of your run. Check for pain and period of pain. Never force yourself which can land you into an injury. At the same time do not bail without reasoning with yourself.
Article by: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness Expert H2F Care