MAY 6TH, 2018



Educated Running Coach Thomas Church
marathon runners in a pack

But understanding the various kinds of pain you can experience can help. In this blog, I will explain three particular types of pain you can experience: Effort Pain, Fatigue Pain, and Imbalance Pain. In doing so, I hope to arm runners with language that might help them make the right call about when to push their limits, or not, during a tough run.

marathon runners in a pack

Imbalance Pain

Which brings us to the last type of pain, Imbalance Pain. This is when your body is not functioning properly, because of a structural imbalance. Imbalance Pain takes form in the shape of an injury, cramp, or poor technique, and it can range in severity. For example, you are running a trail race and suddenly roll your ankle. The Imbalance Pain you feel here is mild enough that you can walk it off and continue, but you now have a limp to your stride. You may decided to finish your race, but if you do, you should slow down drastically and after your race you should seek medical attention. At its worst, Imbalance Pain is a catastrophic injury, e.g. broken bones, torn ACLs, dislocated joints, concussions, etc. This pain is so sharp and strong that you should stop running entirely. Generally, Imbalance Pain results from a combination of too many hard workouts and not enough injury-prevention exercises and recovery workouts.

So, if you’re feeling pain, ask yourself what kind of pain it is. Then, ask yourself what you stand to lose if you continue running. It’s important to answer this question honestly. Only then can you take the proper and smart actions for your training.

Effort Pain
Most, if not all, athletes should be familiar with putting in a good effort. It’s that feeling of being tired at the end of a routine workout. Effort Pain is more than that. This is the pain you experience after a hard workout or a race. It makes you gasp for air. It makes you bend over, put your hands on your knees, or outright lay on the ground. Effort Pain really hurts and you know you will be sore from it for a day or two, but you also know that you will feel back to normal after some stretches and a cool down run, a nice massage, a healthy meal, a good night sleep, or all of the above.

Pain is temporary. But how temporary? Enough to call it a day? Or should you push on? When you are in the thick of an intense workout, sometimes it’s difficult to know whether you should push through pain.


Fatigue Pain

But what if you string a number of tough workouts together as in a competitive season or during marathon training? This what I call Fatigue Pain -- a deep underlying soreness that just doesn’t go away no matter how much you sleep, eat, or make use of your foam roller. Fatigue Pain crops up when you don’t take full recovery days and max out every workout, even when no one is watching. This is when, for some, an addiction to exercise gets them in trouble. Fatigue Pain makes you question whether you should take an extra day off for recovery. If you find yourself asking this question, then you might be suffering from Fatigue Pain, and should probably take the day off. If you don’t, then you risk not recovering before your next big workout, and in the long run you might end up sick, or worse, injured.

Coach Thomas Church

Coach Thomas Church is a USA Track and Field Level 1 Certified Coach. He is a Licensed Clinical Sports Massage Therapist in Massachusetts. Coach Church is also trained in gait analysis, mobility and stability assessment, injury recovery, and injury prevention.

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