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Read this if you are a runner and don't mind my weird tangents

Monday, November 26, 2012

A little back story for those of you just tuning in: I started the C25K program a few months ago after never having run in 29 years unless i was being chased. And I fell in love. I loved the feeling I got when I pushed myself a little bit harder. Often on run days, I would keep going even after I finished the program for the day. I finished the whole program about a month ago - although my 5k time is much slower than the app seems to think it should be so since then I've been working on shaving my time down.

And not-coincidentally, around the same time, i started to hate running. Mostly its the calf burning I experience. It's so frustrating! I dont know if its because i run in a hilly neighborhood or what. I stretch really well each time before I go and i warm up with a 5 min walk. I know its not because I'm going too fast. If I ran any slower I would be walking. Does everyone experience this? I know people say that running is mentally challenging. Is that the reason why? No really, I want to know. What is it that makes running mentally challenging specifically? The burning thing - Am I supposed to just push past it? Is it that I'm still new at it and just need to build up my muscle strength? Is it my shoes? I mean they are name brand running shoes but I didnt go get specially fitted or anything. Here's a pic:

So I've been having a hard time the last couple weeks with wanting to run. I want to want to run but I havent wanted to run you know? And each time I went, which was admittedly sporadic, I started with the walk and then ran the rest of the time and just wanted to quit every minute. But I felt like if I took a break to walk, I was cheating. Because I really do want to be able to run an actual 5k race in a decent amount of time with no walking. So I didn't stop to walk at all. But the burning thing is brutal!!! Even if I slow down, it never fully goes away.

Well today, I went out again but decided that when i needed to, I would walk for a minute or so. And weirdly, I loved it again! In fact, my end time was about the same... well a little bit slower - but not by much to what i was doing when i wasnt letting myself walk. I found that i was able to pick up the pace during the times that i ran. It was like the pressure was off cuz I knew if it got uncomfortable, i could walk. So I did that for a whole 5k in about 44 minutes. The time is terrible i know. But i was feeling so much more positive by taking those mini breaks. I felt strong and definitely faster when I did run.

What do you guys think about that? I mean, I know there's no wrong answer to exercise as long as you're up and moving and getting your heart rate up but the thing is, I want to be a runner. I want to be able to do races. If I train the way I did today, will i still improve my endurance? Will I be able to improve my time? Will I get to the point where I don't feel like I need to stop and walk? Or am I letting myself off the hook too easily? And I need to just tough it out and try not to walk? IS THE BURNING EVERY GONNA GO AWAY?

It was the first workout I've had in weeks where I felt really good after. I worked up a sweat, I definitely had my heart rate up and had to catch my breath at times. I want to continue doing it that way but will I still be able to reach the goals I have by doing so - Thats what I'm asking I guess.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I recommend Galloway's running books. Who made this rule that walk breaks are bad and mean you're not a runner? Who?

    I've been running almost ten years and I take walk breaks. I did an entire marathon doing run/walk. Even met Galloway at that Expo!

    I don't think you should have continuous burning in your calves. And sports science has shown that stretching beforehand, when you are not warmed up, does NOT help.

    Galloway ran the marathon in the Olympics. I think that means he knows what he is talking about. Check out his books and his free training plans on his site

    Feeling unmotivated to run is a signal that you may be going too hard, as is the continuous calf burning. Make it fun! Then you will want to do it.
    2000 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/30/2012 11:34:23 PM
    I followed you over here from your forum post - I hope you don't mind.

    First things first, the calf pain is something you want to watch out for. It's not unusual to be achy when you start out, but pain isn't right. Running through pain is a good way to injure yourself badly (I learned this one the hard way, when an annoying calf ache turned into a major muscle strain that took a full month to heal). My first instinct would be to look at your shoes and get yourself properly fitted at a running store. Unfortunately, there's no one correct shoe brand, so you really have to go with what feels right for you. I can tell you that when I bought my first proper pair of shoes, I knew it. There was no breaking in time, and I felt a difference immediately, even though my old shoes had been a perfectly decent brand. When I switch shoe brands, I spend at least half an hour in the store trying and testing various shoes until I find the right one. Having a knowledgeable sales associate helps a lot, since they can check your form and might notice something you don't.

    A lot of people have mentioned stretching, but an area that gets forgotten a lot is strength training. As a runner, your 'core' is your glutes (max and medius). If those muscules are weak, it'll often manifest somewhere else on your body. My calf muscle injury was the end result of weak glutes and placing more weight on my right hip than my left. Stretching is important, but those muscles need to be strong enough to support the activity you're putting your legs through.

    Second point - there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing a run/walk combo. That's my preferred method for longer races, and I'm faster when I'm taking those 30-60 second walk breaks than slogging through the whole thing. Some people prefer to run straight through, but in the end it's your activity - do what's enjoyable! Unless you're in a super elite race, you won't be the only person doing walk intervals - and that includes seasoned runners.

    I do find that it helps to set regular intervals and steadily increase your running time as you can. When I started, I tried to go for straight running, and I hated it. It hurt, it was mentally taxing, and completely draining after about five minutes. After a couple months of that, I decided to start from scratch and used a C25k program that began with four minutes of walking and one minute of running. Once I finished that and moved onto 10k, I held the same pattern (4 run, 1 walk) and increased the distance. For my outdoor runs, I had just been walking when I felt like it, but after I began an actual training program I started to time my intervals and push myself a little further. After about a year, I could run 5-6k non-stop.

    You mention that you're facing a bit of a mental struggle, even though you enjoy the activity. Have you thought about signing up for an actual 5k? Having something to train for is great for motivation, and you know that you can do the distance (and remember - the first time you do a distance it's always your PR, so just concentrate on running your race).

    Good luck!
    2003 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/27/2012 1:50:21 PM
    I have a similar problem, but not with my shins. My shins are fine since I started "barefoot" (in shoes) running. My problem is a persistently annoying "stitch" which has me pinned an incapable of improving :(

    I'm trying to get an appointment with a physio to get my form examined to see if that's the problem.

    Make sure that you're not stretching before you warm up! ALWAYS stretch warm muscles. Luck!
    2003 days ago
    I haven't heard of this Galloway method so I will definitely lookin to that. I guess I do put pressure on myself but if I don't have a specific goal in mind, I don't get anywhere. I don't know how else to be really. And I always compare myself to others which is the worst part of it I guess because I see these other people who are beginners at running but don't seem to have the same difficulties that I do so then I get obsessed with why that is.

    Also it's not my shins. It's my calf muscles. I stretch really really well before hand to try to minimize it but it still happens. It is a hilly neighborhood. It's the only place that's safe for running that I don't need to drive to but I keep thinking I should try a flat area and see if that makes a difference. But it's only my calves. I guess I'll try the stopping and stretching thing while I'm doing it but I hate messing up my time like that. I guess I just need to give myself more time.

    Thanks for all the advice guys!
    2004 days ago
    I would definitely get checked for the proper shoes from a proper running shop - no sports authority or dicks. I saw another commentor mentioned hills - those KILL my shins, are you running hills?

    Also, walking is PERFECTLY FINE. In fact, alot of people do it! My friends run MARATHONS with the Galloway "walk/run" method. Marathoners do it, you can certainly do it too! The most important thing is that you're OUT THERE DOING IT girly - you rock!
    2004 days ago
    As the other posters have mentioned, I would definitely check your shoes. It was a sticker shock for me, to go to an actual shoe store that catered to runners/exercises and to get properly fitted with the correct shoes. It makes a world of difference.

    Also, try not to be so hard on yourself. More often than not, we are our own worse critics. When it comes to running , you'll find that the person that you're in competition with is not standing next to you but, inside of you.

    I love running! It's taken me three years to build up to where I'm at. Enjoy the ride and listen to your body. Rest when you need to, push when you can and the rest will fall into place.
    2004 days ago
  • JR0124
    Agreed with the new shoes and stretching for your pain while you are running. My physical therapist had me get these insoles to replace the insoles that came with my shoes.

    But, it really sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself and a fear of 'failing'. That just really seems silly. I understand wanting to race but you just started!
    2004 days ago
    I have GOT to get new shoes! My shin is STILL not completely healed.
    We'll get there!!!
    YOU ARE DOING AWESOME!!! emoticon
    2004 days ago
    If it is your calf muscle: It could be your shoes. Also running (and walking) up steeper hills are going to make your muscles burn since you are putting even more effort into propelling your body forward. Try stretching for short periods of time during your run. When your calves start to burn so much you can't stand it slow to a walk, stretch each calf for about 10 seconds, walk again then speed up to a run. It is bad for your (alright, MY) knees to stop or start running abruptly.

    If it is your shins: you probably need more new shoes or insoles. My shins only hurt when I didn't have enough cushion and maybe arch support.

    I LOVE running, my knees do not. I have to be really careful and can't run more than 5k or a lot of hills. I am working on building up my leg strength - it takes more pressure off the knees - so that I can run more when it warms up in the spring.

    If you aren't strength training that would help too in general.
    2004 days ago
    Listen, you're just following the Galloway method. Walk-Run-Walk-Repeat.


    Don't be so hard on yourself.

    I saw your post about aching legs n' stuff. I got really sore shins when I started and I found that two things helped. First, new shoes. Second stretching. I don't know which helped more.

    I'm having a similarly hard time with my routine. I don't really know why. I just feel like I'm in a funk. Ugh.

    Take a look at Galloway training - I think you might like it!
    2004 days ago
  • ANH102712
    The first and most important rule is listen to your body. I think the change in season can affect how you feel about running. I am a summer runner and I hate running in anything below 45 degrees. So maybe if it's getting cooler where you are tat is what you subconsciously don't like.

    Don't ever feel bad about asking breaks. I had a 5k time once that was faster when I dd a walk/run then when I ran the whole thing. It's because if you give your body mini breaks then you can go faster in between them and don't burn out as fast.

    As far as calf burning you would ave to define burn. Is it like a muscle burn or more like a skin burn. When it gets cooler out after I've been running and I come inside my legs have a weird burning/itching feeling even if I dress in layers.

    I also think other "life" things can affect your attitude about running. Sometimes you just aren't in the mood. Sometimes what you have eaten makes you feel bogged down and sometimes your body is just really tired. Just stick with it and the need for the runners high will come back. But if you are getting bored then switch up activities.

    Hope this helps!
    2004 days ago
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