Injuries :( When to just stop…and when to just run

So the longer you run I think the better you get to know your body, its niggles, aches and pains and basically when and how to treat such injuries. Some people rarely suffer from a chronic injury and the others seem to always have a knee brace, rock tape, thigh pad, you name it on when running. Sometimes in an attempt to honour the infamous “prevention is better than cure”!! and “better safe than sorry!!” And other times due to injury, plain and simple. I think the harder we train and the more we experiment with our endurance boundaries, the more we learn whats an actual injury and whats something we can just run through and will work itself out later. Ya know stop complaining and get on with it!!

But how do we get to that stage??

I was inspired by a friend to write this article, who has begun up-ing her training for a first half marathon and suffered a foot injury after adding a few extra mile for the first time, she asked my advice and I gave her the standard RICE, rest see how it goes etc. But she posed a very good question to me ‘how do I know when its a serious enough injury that more training may cause long term affects or to just suck it up!!and run’??? Very good and reasonable questions so I searched my own soul (no pun intended!!) and experience to come up with some answers.

Whether you are a season runner or just beginning to start training and running consistently, you have or will encounter this scenario. You’re in good shape, you’re enjoying your run and suddenly something hurts. How do you know whether to run through it – crying ‘no pain, no gain’ – or to rest for five minutes; whether to walk home slowly and immediately or go straight to Accident & Emergency?

I am going to attempt to help you in your decision making. I am going to provide a list of some common injuries and what and how to deal with them etc. But always listen to your body, don’t be a hero if your body is genuinely telling you to slow down or take a rest. Learn your queues.

There are a few general rules you can apply to pain. If something hurts so badly you can’t walk on it, its not rocket science my friends don’t try to run on it!!! Having said that, you learn to recognise your own body’s signs of pain – such that you can run through heavy legs, for example, this is something you just need to accept from a scientific point of view and get on with it. You’ll learn to recognise this feeling of lactic acid build-up by experience, and because the symptoms tend to come on gradually. Its normal and a joyous part of running 🙂

In some cases, if you feel pain on a training run it’s grand to stop and stretch, and reasses your speed, terrain etc and perhaps change the surface you’re running on, head up ontp a trail or perhaps get off a trail. Go to the other side of the road, and see if it makes any difference. In a race it can be a bit more difficult, obviously and the best immediate option in a race is to try changing your pace either up or down for a couple of minutes, breathe and just relax, its not the end of the world.

Once you get home, the age ol’ RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). It is a principle worth applying to almost any injury. If the pain hasn’t disappeared the next day, don’t try to run on it. The only time it can be beneficial to run through pain is during rehabilitation when you may need to overcome a little initial stiffness to regain the muscle’s flexibility. Tread lightly!! (pun intended!!!)

If you’ve done all this and yet the symptoms persist, you need to re-assess and your next option may be to see a GP or a physio therapist or massage therapist. Sometimes a massage can really help if its an injury thats needs “working out”.

Educating runners is important. Typically runners only wait two months after an injury before seeing a doc, rather than six, as was the norm. (I am sure the doc would prefer you to come in 2 days after it happened!!!but unless its severe most of us runners won’t!!)

Its common to try and deal with injuries yourself and sometimes it works sometimes it doesnt. It def pays to listen to a loved one or impartial party who says ‘stop being stupid make time and go to the doctor!’. So keep that in mind.

You run the risk of an injury becoming chronic and much harder to treat if you leave a serious injury untreated for more than 48 hours, so you will be able to judge levels of severity, ranging from uncomfortable to downright insanely unbearable. Any medic would prefer you came to see them sooner rather than later.

If an injury hurts so much you can’t even put weight on it, it’s probably a serious one, and you should get advice immediately.

What about pain in a race. It’s just not realistic to stop and stretch out every niggle when you’re in a competitive environment. Some pains come and go within a couple of miles and you never know what caused them, but if a pain (rather than a tired ache) gets continually worse during a race, you should take it seriously. Better to ease off and try again in a fortnight than to be laid off completely for a month. VERY IMPORTANT TIP!!!

So without further a-do:

Lower back pain:

Ask yourself, Is the pain… one that’s been developing over a few days or even weeks?

If so… it’s a typical lower-back problem that starts off as a low-risk ache and becomes more dangerous if it goes untreated and the pain increases. If you feel a sudden back pain, it’s more likely to be serious.

You should… stop and stretch. If the pain gets worse, abandon your run and seek treatment. Most lower-back pain has a specific cause that you need to address before it gets better.

Foot pain:

Ask yourself, Is the pain… a numbness?

If so… it could be due to poor blood circulation.

You should… loosen your shoelaces, and wiggle your toes a bit as you run. When you get home, apply RICE if necessary, and seek help if the numbness continues.

Is the pain… a crescendo pain (one that starts off mildly and gradually increases as you run)?

If so… it could be a stress fracture.

You should… take it seriously. The foot is complex and a delicate structure. You should walk home and see a specialist asap.

Is the pain… a blister forming?

You should… aim to minimise the friction against your skin. Putting a tissue around the area can be a good ad-hoc way of relieving pressure – as can applying a generous quantity of spit.

twisted ankle:

Is the pain… tolerable enough to run on?

If so… the body’s natural endorphins will be helping to mask the pain and you can carry on if you have to. However, this tends to further damage the ligaments in the area and make you more susceptible to another twist. If the pain is intense or the joint is swollen, you shouldn’t try to restart your run at all. Go home and RICE, elevate it and try to keep it mobile without causing further pain.


Knee pain:

Is the pain… a dull ache under the kneecap?

If so… it’s probably runners knee (in which the kneecap doesn’t move properly across the bones it rests on, often due to a muscle imbalance).

You should… try running in the same direction on the opposite side of the road (to change the camber); move onto a softer surface; or stride out for a while to free up the knee joint. You can also try changing your shoes. If the pain persists, book an appointment with a physiotherapist, because it will only get worse.

Is the pain… around the knee on the outside of the leg, and coming on slowly with each stride?

If so… it’s likely to be iliotibial band syndrome (an inflammation of the long fibrous tissue that extends from the hip along the side of the upper leg.

You should… stop and stretch the area (try the standing stretch in which you cross your feet and extend one side of your body upwards until you feel a stretch around your hip). Also, try running on the opposite side of the road. Get a diagnosis if the pain doesn’t go.

Is the pain… just below the kneecap?

If so… err on the side of caution and take it to be a patellar tendon strain.

You should… jog gently home and apply the RICE treatment. As with any tendon strain, running through it is asking for trouble.

If it still hurts the next day, have it looked at. Acute tears can require weeks in plaster, and in most cases recovery is likely to take months rather than weeks.

muscle pain:

Is the pain… sharp?

You should… determine the sort of sharp pain it is. If it’s a cramp, rest for a couple of minutes and massage the area. Having a drink, especially a sports drink containing electrolytes, will also help.

If it’s more of a sudden tightness, in the calf for example, stretch the muscle, and again, massage the area. Continuing to run without taking action just makes a tear more likely.

N.B: If the pain means you can’t run without limping with each step, you’ve torn the muscle. Stop, walk home and apply the RICE treatment.

Is the pain… an ache?

You should… drop your pace and think about turning home if there’s a chance that it’s the recurrence of a chronic injury. In this case your running style or shoes could be the problem, so expert advice is recommended. If the ache is all over your legs, you’re just tired – so dig in, it’s good for you!

Is the pain… a radiant pain which spreads along a muscle, especially in the upper leg?

You should… stretch the whole muscle, including the area at the top of it, because the pain is likely to be caused by a tightness. You could be suffering the effects of a slipped disc, which you feel in your thigh, for example. Treatment by a physiotherapist, an osteopath or a chiropractor is essential, because no matter how much you stretch, the problem won’t go away until you address the cause.

chest pain:

Is the pain… more of an ache, and only occurring with each deep breath you take?

If so… it’s just likely to be fatigue in your chest muscles and/or your ribs.

You should… slow down until the pain clears.

Is the pain… spreading to your neck and shoulders, or being accompanied by severe sweating or faintness?

If so… it could be heart-related.

You should… stop immediately and hope that someone is nearby to help. If it’s a heart attack, you probably won’t be able to do much to help yourself!!!

If the pain has gone after two minutes, it was probably nothing serious, but in any case, it is worth a precautionary check-up. Maybe invest in a heart rate monitor if your find this a re-occuring issue.

Is the pain… across your diaphragm (the sheet of muscle that separates your guts from your lungs) rather than in your chest?

If so… relax (literally). It’s just a stitch.

Also be mindful of the weather, being too hot, too cold,, over heated, too many layers not enough layers, city running with fumes, pollen count etc. Be prepared.

In conclusion, these are just some common injuries and how they feel and how to deal with them. But in the long run (sorry about so many genuinely unintended puns!!!) you will need to get to know your body better through running and learn from it. The only way to do so is to completely trust your body to run and give you a signal if it is in de-stress. Always seek more advice to better understand how to prevent and treat injuries. Its important to leave your comfort zone and push yourself because if you don’t you will never know how far you can go, but look after your body and treat it well.

You will at some stage push it too far at the very least ONCE and you must learn from that and every other time you do it. Mistakes help us learn and better ourselves. Its tough to stop running when your so passionate about it, but sometimes its best to just stop and re-assess.

Happy safe injury free running everyone and happy christmas.



Older runners sprint vs distance….

Runners world published an article (below) about how Older Sprinters’ Bones are Healthier Than Older Distance Runners’ bones, its interesting to read and I guess another reason for older runners to include regular sprints in their training.


Older sprinters have better bone density and neuromuscular functioning than older distance runners,according to an article in Osteoporosis International.

German researchers examined 178 competitors at the 2006 edition of the European Masters Championships. They measured bone density, lean tissue mass, and a few measures of neuromuscular functioning, or how well one’s nervous system communicates with one’s muscles, in three groups of athletes: sprinters, middle-distance runners and long-distance runners.

The sprinters outperformed the other two groups on all the measures. While it’s probably not news that the sprinters were better at tests like one-legged hopping and maximal grip strength, their higher bone density is notable. The sprinters had significantly higher bone density in their legs, hips, spine and trunk than the distance runners. To be sure, the distance runners’ bone density was the same or higher than average for their age, but not nearly as great as that of the sprinters.

This study comes on the heels of our article earlier this month about bone health, which described how higher-impact, less-frequent and multidirectional movements provide more of a stimulus for building bone than do the frequent, relatively low-impact stimulus of distance running.

With age, many runners find themselves gravitating to longer, slower running. This study suggests one of many reasons to try to buck that trend. A weekly session of 10 100-meter striders at about mile race pace should be part of every runner’s training, but especially that of runners age 40 and over. Regular short, fast runs help to maintain muscle mass, neuromuscular functioning, stride length and, as this study shows, bone density. All of those benefits of sprinting make for healthier aging, less injury risk and more enjoyable running.


Courtesy of Runners world.

The Business of Running…..

Is the cost of racing gone mad theses days??!!!! In some cases yes. There has been a 65% increase in the NYC race entry fee in the USA in the last 5 years. I mean I get it I know everything’s more expensive in new york but really $255 for a marathon.


Oh, and if you are unfortunate enough to live outside of the U.S., it is $347. If you wana play you gotta pay, so I am not going to moan about the cost of races, as there is no pressure for any of us to enter. I am merely noting that it does not come cheap for the glory of the finish line 🙂

All that being said I have come to the conclusion that Running is a business these days and the business of running is a very popular one!! The days of simply throwing down a chalk mark in the road, yelling out “ready, set, go”, letting the 200 or so runners fend for themselves as they weave through traffic jams they actually caused themselves and then finally cross a make shift finish line greeted by a few helpers and given some water and a congrats if they placed, maybe a medal…are long gone.

So do you ever wonder exactly where your entry fee goes after you enter a road race? Producing road races has become a significant business that comes with a lot of risk along with a lot of hands in the till.

However,  today producing a road race is more about insurance, liability, medical coverage, media, security, technology, computers, charities, food and entertainment and less about road cones, ribbons etc. And, of course, all this “new stuff” just costs more and more and more money. Additionally, where and when the race is held also contributes to the ever-increasing expense of an event. The days where “everyone” involved offered his or her services free of charge are also looooooooonnnnnng gone. I have to state though that in smaller races this may not be true and there are alot of smaller trail races that people volunteer and thats all. They are there to do just what it says on the tin!!, receiving little or nothing in return and are quite happy with that too.

Without corporate sponsors, whether cash, product or services, it is virtually impossible to “make money” conducting a road race. Each race is different, of course, and as such, incurs different expenses. However, every race must deal with standard expenses in order to produce a half decent product. Typically, some of those expenses include but are certainly not limited to:

Bib numbers
Chip Timing
SO whats the future of racing, its anyones guess, I run and race because I love to run. Plain and simple.
I race because I love running towards something!!!! and receiving the personal recognition and fruition of my hard work and commitment, and it comes in the shape of a medal, that I strategically place on my wall, as a constant reminder that…..put in the work, and you will flourish and reach many more finish lines. Its something tangible that I can see etc but I take each victory away in my mind and utilize it each day in life and thats whats the best reward for me.
Everyone runs and races for different reasons and goals etc but I think its important to remember that you need only have the dream or image of a medal and it can be enough to get ya through.
Running through life is the only way I wana go!!!!
Happy running and happy holiday running everyone 🙂

Coloured tape – whats it all about???

So I have always been curious as to the genuine benefits and uses of tape on the legs for runners. They are very colourful and abundant at races so what is the deal. I will explain what I am talking about for those of you who are thinking what is she on about!! I wondered what its all about so went on the hunt to answer my questions!. I did some research both practical and in theory and heres what I found out!

SOOOO this tape is a special kind of tape known as kinesiology tape. One of the leading brands is rock tape so thats the one I am gona focus on today. Rock tape is the colourful tape that you often see spread out on the backs of runners legs, thighs, front of the arms etc. Just about anywhere you can see this tape. 

It is used throughout the world to treat injuries and improve sports performance. Heres a list of some of the things it can be used for so you can get a varied insight into how and when you might need it.

• Achilles tendonitis
• Plantar fasciitis
• Jumpers knee (PFS)
• ACL/MCL issues
• Rotator cuff
• Groin and hamstring pulls
• Lower back issues
• Shin splints
• Tennis and golf elbow
• Pain associated with pregnancy
• Postural correction

Rock tape claim that when applied properly, it can help athletes improve form and decrease fatigue through better blood flow. These are the two most critical aspects of increasing performance in almost any sport. SOOO I gave it a try. I have had a mild niggling hamstring injury from SFM 2012 (from over training AFTER the marathon – dumb move!!!Rest is essential part of recovery!!) Anyhoo it did seem to ease the discomfort that in recent weeks and months I have just learned to run with and has become an old friend, a companion if you will, on my runs!! So it was a great absence I experienced when I used the rock tape. In conclusion – It did take away the pain, somewhat temporary but I have only used this product 3 times, so will report back with more findings later on.

The positives 🙂

The stretch – ROCKTAPE stretches up to 190% of its original length. This allows it to provide different strengths of support for differing injuries and needs.

Its Not just for injuries – While ROCKTAPE is great for treating injuries, it also has a number of other benefits. The tape can be used to increase endurance and reduce fatigue, as well as increasing blood flow.

Feels nice – The tape has a velvety soft feel and is almost enjoyable to wear. I never felt agitated or annoyed with the tape.

Diverse range – ROCKTAPE can be bought in all shapes and sizes. There is the standard tape that is great for the majority of muscles. There is wider tape for legs and larger muscle groups. And there is also thinner tape, which is great for taping fingers, wrists and feet.

Great stick – The tape lasted easily for four days, and probably would have lasted a few days more if I let it. I used the tape in the shower to test it out in water and sweated too through runs. I didn’t sleep in but I suspect you could have no problem. The edges never frayed, I also never had to reapply.

Funky colours – ROCKTAPE comes in a wide range of cool designs and funky colours. As much as I loved the physical benefits. Its nice to be stylish for those who care 🙂

anywhere, anytime – The tape can literally be used on any part of the body. Differing sizes means you can use ROCKTAPE to support and stabilize almost every single part of your body.


All in all I would recommend it. It retails in the US at between $18-20 so its a little pricey I guess but I have heard that they will send you a sample if you request it, for a trial run, just to see if its for you. Also square edges were a no-no they eventually start to kinda dog ear so curved would be better but they are the only bad points on this product.


Happy healthy running.

CIM-What a Race-what an experience-what a PR!!!

I have dried out enough now to give you all a Re-cap!! (Glossary of terms are at the end of this write-up!!!!) I managed to convince 4 guys to sign up for SFM, even in the midst of the weather I was still networking for the team!!:)

Tap, tapp, tapp….Ring ring ring….4am alarm and rain beating down on the window as I wake up Sunday morning to prep for CIM. Oh the weather, twas weather that Ireland would have been proud of the wind was very strong and the rain that was coming down was insane!!!

Gear on, bottles filled, breakfast eaten, black bin bag at the ready, rain bucketing down – T’wud appear we are good to go!! Paul and I hopped in the car and headed for the start line, roads were flooded so we were re routed and told I had to hop on the “bus gus”!! So after I said good bye to Paul and braved the weather and the walk to the bus along with what can only be described as a multi-coloured sea of poncho’s and fetching home made ensembles (mine included!).

I queued with everyone else and chit chatted with my fellow runners, it was kinda looking like we were gona be late 6:40 and we still hadn’t boarded the bus but then it was our turn and I experienced my first ever time on an american school bus. Sat down beside a first timer who was to say the least, terrified of the weather, I told him not to worry it would give him something to focus on! I also chatted to 2 really nice guys who heard my accent in the queue and came over to say Hi. They proceeded to say to me “Oh I thought you were supposed to bring good weather with you” to which I replied “no,no, I brought the good luck and IRISH WEATHER!!!!” We had a good laugh about it. Lightened the wet mood, but the energy was great while waiting in the rain.

After arriving at the start 3 minutes before gun time, rush to the porta-loo then I heard the loud horn go off and I rushed to join the thousands of poncho clad, determined runners who were not willing to let this weather deter them. Off we go, blown from side to side with rain pouring down forming side ways rivers on the roads. And then 8am came and it really started to rain!!!

So rain aside, everyone was in good spirits and I managed to chat to a few people here and there which was great. The pretend wall constructed at mile 20 was a great laugh with the grim reaper!!!good job. The race itself was such an experience and everyone running were really in good form.

So at about mile 19 I think, I pulled up along side an older man in his 50’s or 60’s and we were running side by side and said hello and asked how each other were doing. I took out my cliff bar for a wee snack and thought t’wud be rude not to offer……….Ya know seeing as we were running together so to speak. So we chin wagged and chatted and he asked about Ireland and I told him that this was considered a “good drop o’ rain” at home!! We shared a laugh and some stories and then he said well I would personally like to thank you for coming all the way out to run CIM, he then introduce himself as none other than Steve!!Steve Polansky, president of the SRA (Sacramento running assoc-the group who organize the entire race) and board of directors, I was running beside a living legend, what are the chances! So we shook hands and I said I was privileged to meet and what better way to meet the president of the running assoc than out running. He was a lovely man running along in the midst of thousands of others and you would even know. So that was def the highlight of my marathon!!

So with lifted spirits after getting a good luck from Steve I headed off bound for the finish line. It came not too far ahead and I crossed over in a PR of 4:39 after braving the crazy storm and torrential weather and running conditions we all faced. I still managed a great time and a PR and couldnt be happier.

A huge shout out firstly to all the volunteers and supporters who braved the elements to cheer on and help us runners. Amazing job they are sometimes the unsung hero’s of the race! Also thanks for the never ending renditions of COWBELLS!!!hehehehe 🙂

Second shout out goes to everyone who ran the north face endurance race and competition this weekend in the same conditions great job everyone and all the other SFM ambassadors who raced this weekend.

My newest addition to the wall….

View photo.JPG in slide show


T’wud – It would

T’was – It was

Good to go – ready to go

Hop on the bus gus – ref to the song!!

Queued – line

Porta-loo – Porta potty

Chit chat – small talk

chin wagged – To chat

good Drop o rain – decent amount of rain fall

Wee – small