Thursday, March 26, 2015

Running Hurts Like Hell, But Why?

Running in Moab, Utah  last weekend (and despite being surrounded by beautiful mesas and canyons and rivers), I felt like dog crap. Not the type of crap that is speckled with colorful chunks (because your dog ate your crayons), but the icky non-rainbow stuff.

True, you would not know it from this picture below because this was probably in the first mile. The first mile of a race I can usually be counted on to look fresh as a daisy. Good posture. A smile for the camera. That is before my legs start screaming and the stomach cramps up.

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Confession: I steal proofs. There is a special place in hell for me.

It is in the later miles that you can read the “God help me. I am over this - please let this be done so I can lay down and drink beer” expression on my face. That really is exactly what I was thinking. I always ball up my fists when I’m tired. Probably because I want to punch someone.

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People tell me all the time that they don’t run because it is “too hard.” Let’s break this down. What does too hard really mean? Too hard on the body? Too mentally taxing? Too hard to breathe? All of the above?

Yes, running is  indeed one of the most intense forms of exercise one can do. That’s why it’s been shown to be extremely effective for weight loss. You get the most bang for your buck. Run for 30 minutes and you will burn about 300 calories. That’s about 30 M&Ms! Or, 42.85 cups of raw spinach (7 calories per cup, yo!).

I remember the days (not so long ago) when I wanted to be a runner, but couldn’t get past the aches, pains and urges to puke that consumed me every time I tried.

I knew nothing about pacing, building up mileage or resting. I would simply head out the door and start sprinting like a bat out of hell. I thought running meant moving like I was being chased by the Kenyans. Consequently, my heart would come out of my chest, my legs and lungs would be on fire and the bathroom was always too far away. Looking back, I know why this happened. My body was in shock.

The truth is, I now understand why new runners feel this way. The body is desperately trying to adapt to the physical stress. And, adapt it will if you give it time.

Here are some symptoms you might encounter as your body adjusts to your running regimen:

  • Itching – Your blood capillaries are waking up and filling with more blood than normal. This makes them expand and itch.
  • Burning muscles – This is caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Your muscles are letting your brain know that you are working hard.
  • Urge to poop (or fart or both) – Your insides get jostled like a washing machine when you run. Your blood goes to your muscles instead of your digestion. Your body is breaking down carbs, causing you to be gassy.
  • Inability to catch one’s breath – You are exhaling too fast to get all of the carbon dioxide (the “bad air”) out of your lungs. This has a snowball effect and leaves you breathless.
  • Side stitches – These are most likely caused by electrolyte depletion or the overuse of your diaphragm while you run.

Although these symptoms might be more acute when you first begin a running program, for some of us they never completely resolve. There is hardly a run that goes by that I don’t almost crap myself. While I no longer get side stitches and never had the itchiness (unless I was recovering from crabs), I do still feel my muscles burning and find myself gasping for air at times. I’m pretty sure the elites do too.

The key to minimizing your suffering is to ease in slowly. If you are coming back to running after a long hiatus or are a new runner, be patient. It takes time to build stamina and to create a foundation. Try running with periods of walking. Tell yourself that you will run for 10 minutes a day (or a few times per week) and add five minutes each week. Don’t forget to take recovery days. Be sure to eat and drink in a way that supports good health. Most of all, know that if you stick with it, running does get easier.

What’s the most annoying symptom you encounter while running? Cramps. Sometimes foot pain.

Do you have funky thing you do when you get tired while running? I ball up my fists and slouch over. It is a good look.

SUAR

Source of info from: “What’s Up With That: Why Running Hurts Every Part of Your Body” (WIRED 12/2014).

36 comments:

  1. When I start to struggle my jaw sticks out sideways - it kind of looks like my face is dislocated. I also slouch soooooo much it looks like I'm tying my laces. Oh, I forgot, I flap my hands like a seal, my family think its totally hilarious and bring it up all the time.
    Hope you start feeling like a more colourful kind of crap soon. Maybe some kind of exotic animal crap.

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  2. Chaffing.... Worst.thing.ever!

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  3. I've been getting serious pain in my foot/ankle area and also shin splints, really annoying.

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    1. Thanks for all the great ideas! I was sitting at my computer today and could not for the life of me think of something to write about. This was really helpful. Thanks again!


      IIP Foundation | IIP Photography Academy | Indian Institute of Photography

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  4. Blisters on the feet can derail any run for me. I have no idea why I do this when I run but I bend my left wrist at a 90 degree angle and run with it like that. My kids call it my "zombie hand."

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  5. My form goes all to hell when I am fatigued. Hence, the weird chafing I get on my right ankle/ lower leg from when my left leg kicks over on each step. It must be my subconcious telling my leg to kick the other in an effort to make it all stop! I bet I was the only one with a bloody chafed right ankle at my last half marathon. Sexy, I know.

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    1. Wow, I just did this for the first time on Tuesday towards the end of a 6-mile run, and felt like some kind of freak. Right leg kicked over and bloodied my left ankle... right thru my sock.

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  6. Ugh, I feel your pain, sistah! My most annoying symptom of running is abdominal cramps. Not side stitches (though I get those, too), but those "holy moly if I don't find a port-a-john or a bush right now, I'm gonna daub my pants" kinda cramps. Not cool.
    When I'm fatigued, I slouch and pull my shoulders up by my ears. I have super long arms, but sometimes look like a running T-Rex when I'm tired. I also make stink face.

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    1. You are right! The I gotta go cramps are the.worst.thing.ever.

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  7. I'm just here to laugh at the difference between those two photos. Too funny!

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  8. As somebody who WANTS to be a runner, but isn't---yet, I can tell you that it's easy to compare yourself... It's easy to see somebody like you who can do an IronMan (A FREAKING IRONMAN) and think "I can never do that." So you get beat down... Everywhere you turn online somebody is posting a PR and times get faster and faster. It's so important what you've said above about just getting out there and starting! Just improve yourself. Forget about everyone else. A little at a time is better than not trying!!!

    I'm going to keep improving myself. And trying is something I've become pretty freaking good at and comfortable with.... Besides- I'm faster than EVERYONE too afraid to get out there.

    Sarah
    www.thinfluenced.com

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  9. I shuffle my feet when I get tired. It usually results in bloody & bruised knees from tripping over uneven pavement that I could've easily avoided if I hadn't lost my form!

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    1. Cheri I did that the other night! Was tired and not paying attention not lifting my feet and SLAM! face plant right onto the bike path. everyone was like "uhoh, grandma is down!" so embarrassing. broken finger, ripped capris and bloody knee, dork.

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  10. Most annoying thing when I am pooped out is that I kick myself in the ankles. Ive got torn up areas on my shoes :(

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  11. The most annoying symptom to me are GI issues on runs that last over an hour. I recently tried Imodium for the first time before a long run and it worked, so I'm optimistic about getting through my upcoming half-marathon in April without bathroom trips
    www.momontherunsanity.com

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    1. I've heard a lot of people swear by the magical powers of Imodium. Glad it works for you. Those GI issues can be such a nightmare.

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    2. Sometimes Imodium works for me, sometimes not... But on the bright side when I don't have cramping and bathroom trips I set a PR!

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    3. Have you tried running on an empty stomach? Drink something maybe 2.5-3 hours before but no solid food

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  12. Most annoying thing would have to be chaffing. That first shower is a killer... I tend to lose my form when I get tired. I really work on focusing lengthening my body so I don't slouch.

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  13. Oh how I love you! Maybe it hurt so much because you ran a marathon a week before this race? And it was a hard marathon at that. If it didn't hurt, I would actually wonder if you were a jet lag bionic bot of some sort ;) Congrats on one more finish line!

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  14. I just make the ugliest face you've ever seen. I also want to say FUCK YOU to the photographers who take my photo when I look like that and I'm clearly dying. But then I remember they're just doing their job.

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  15. I've been running for decades, so you'd think that I wouldn't let the discomfort get the best of me.... wrong, I look a lot like you toward the end of a tough run. You got the job the done and it wasn't easy. I have respect for you and all of my running tribe members.

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  16. Oh, hands down, that cramping-I-better-find-a-bathroom-feeling is the worst. I ran a half marathon 2 weeks ago and there were NO portapotties on the course. Can you imagine? Luckily, I didn't need one.

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    1. That is one of the most desperate feelings in the world....when you need a bathroom STAT and there isn't one.

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  17. Chafing under my boobs, which are almost non-existent, is the most annoying thing ever while running! I have tried every brand of sports bra and every lube out there. I'm sure it's too late and I am scarred for life.

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  18. I've been running a relatively short time, so much of this pain is fresh for me. To go along with the bouts of shin splints, tendinitis, knee pain, and back pain; I have flat feet with moderate over-pronation, which causes sharp pain in my instep and inner ankle if I overdo it, or if my shoes start to wear out on me (I have to wear motion control shoes).

    I've gone from the couch at 240-lbs. to 5K at 200-lbs. and now training for a half marathon at 175-lbs. I'm still considered a fairly heavy runner, but I'm determined to complete my first half. I did 10.8 last week, the furthest I've ever gone, and I have 5 weeks until the race. It's a delicate balance keeping my foot in line, but I'm determined to do this (just finish it, not be competitive).

    By the way, ShutUpandRun, I love the honesty in your writing. Thank you for blogging.

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  19. ShutUpandRun, I completely agree with your “God help me. I am over this - please let this be done so I can lay down and drink beer” expression. I feel the same way at about mile 10 of every marathon or half marathon I do.

    I think it's refreshing to put it out there that everyone feels the same pain when they run (especially the I'm going to crap myself feeling) and it's just a matter of time and letting your body get used to it. Good read.

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  20. Chafing....on my butt of all places. Probably TMI but whatever. We all run.

    When I'm tired, I don't even have the energy to ball my fists (even though I too want to punch in those moments) .... My right hand gets a case of limp wrist.

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