Pain the week before a marathon and during: what can you do?

And pain after 🙂

Pain before and during – what can I do?

With the famous London marathon coming up this Sunday, there are a few nerves in the air. That’s completely normal and part of the journey. As is excitement!

What’s the objective this week?

To get to the start line!

You may have heard of maranoia. All those thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations that can pop up the week before: am I ill? Have I injured myself? I’m so emotional etc etc. Again, all normal part of the journey.

You have put in the best training that you could over the past months. The day is the icing on the cake. The fun bit!

It is an amazing day. For me, because of the people—your fellow runners and the crowd. Each has a story.

Advice: immerse yourself in it! Take moments to look around and be present with what you are doing and what is happening.

Pain before

Some people will have pain that they are now worrying about. Especially if it has cropped up recently.

So here are a few insights that may help you. Then some ways to deal with pain during your run.

Have you actually injured yourself? If so, you can seek help and advice that may help you get through the day. Remember that you just want to get to the start line. As long as the injury is not serious, you may just get through it. Amazing what you can do by focusing on your purpose and why the marathon matters to you.

If the injury is significant in terms of tissue damage, it’s unlikely you will be able to take part. This is hard to deal with when you have put in all the effort. But remember, you have put in all the effort! The process offers invaluable learning about yourself and what you are capable of achieving. To choose not to run can be a wise yet tough decision. You can now focus on recovery and using your new knowledge and training history to shape a positive future in a different way.

Sometimes there is no significant injury but there is pain. That’s because pain and injury are poorly related and are completely different entities.

Maybe it is a minor tweak or simply a manifestation of a length training period. Whatever, it’s a message or information for you to act upon. Seeking advice to understand your pain is key.

Worry, concern and fear can all effect your pain. The pressure you put on yourself, the stories you are now telling yourself can create stress that amplifies the pain experience.

What happens if you use calming practices such as breathing, mindfulness and easy nourishing movements?

In many cases, the aches and pains are part of the maranoia experience. I typically feel achy and fluey, and notice various pains in the week or so before an event. It’s just what my body systems do.

In response, what can you do?

1. Keep moving, all within your window of tolerance (some aches and pains but essentially good experiences of movements): tapering runs, mobility, yoga etc.

2. Breathing, mindfulness, relaxation

3. Good fuel and hydration

4. Prioritise sleep

5. Minimise stress where possible—focus on what you can control and not what you can’t

6. Keep focused on your picture of success and the step you can take right now

7. You are creating the conditions now, in this moment, to maximise your chances of getting to the start line.

If you unsure, do seek help. Make sure who you speak to knows their stuff; ie/ expert in pain and running.

Pain during

Inevitable for most people, if not all.

Perhaps you have learned some strategies that you have practiced during your training.

There are many ways to handle pain during a marathon. Having a range of tools is important because at different times you’ll need different strategies. You can scroll through until you find the one that works in that moment.

Here are 10 examples.

1. Have a snack

2. Have a drink

3. Remember your purpose and the people you are running for

4. Create a mantra you can use, or several. You can write it on your hand.

5. Zoom out: reassure yourself that you are ok, then look ahead.

6. Zoom in: some people find that focusing on the pain brings an initial increase but then ease. Why? Because being open to the experience allows it to pass through.

7. Chat to a fellow runner

8. Listen to the crowd

9. As you are running along, imagine running smoothly and confidently

10. Focus on a part of your body that feels good

Bonus…. From Eliud Kipchoge….

11. Smile 🙂

Good luck from me! Onwards!


Ring O Fire ultra – why I finished

This time last week I was making the final preparations for the Ring O Fire (RoF) ultramarathon. Deemed to be one of the toughest ultras in the UK, RoF is a 135 miles of coastal path, travelled over three days.

I underestimated how difficult it was going to be. Despite the challenge of the distance, I did not consider the cut offs particularly seriously, nor the terrain. Now I know!

It was tough! The toughest of the 30 odd ultras that I have done for upandrun. But now, that makes it one of the most satisfying to have completed. In the end 96 people started RoF and 53 finished.

At the start

There are several reasons why I was able to finish. I will come to that shortly.

For two years I ran monthly ultras for Understand Pain, and called it upandrun. The purpose was and continues to be raising awareness of the global problem of chronic pain that affects millions of people (and their loved ones) and costs billions. The aim is to erase suffering.

I maintain that this enormous social problem, for it is embedded in a society, is largely due to the misunderstanding of pain.

What is pain? Can you answer that question? You know it hurts and what it can feel like from a personal perspective, but what actually is pain? This is a question that scientists and philosophers have been trying to answer. Now we have some really good ideas.

Are we there yet with the understanding? Absolutely not. But our role is to keep the momentum going and build onwards.

What about now? We can offer help, guidance, support and encouragement to people suffering chronic pain in many ways. Many are simple and low tech, meaning they can be used by many to help many. Pain Coaching is my way of helping.

And we really can help and make a difference. But it starts with the person understanding their pain. This means taking the knowledge and skilfully passing it on in such a way that the person can make sense of their experiences and see a way forward.

Again, we can help them by sharing practical ways of living best lives, building health, and dealing with challenging moments. All of these are skills that can be learned and honed.

The two years of ultras took their toll. I was not well organised with training, made many mistakes and didn’t adequately recover. Add in a few trips and falls, and I found myself accumulating significant aches and pains. I needed a break and a training programme. I needed a coach.

So I let things settle down, taking it much easier. And being much easier on myself. The influences on running had been all about constant pushing and pushing. Then I was introduced to the idea of happy running via my now coach, Damian Hall.

The Happy Runner is the book by David and Megan Roche. The concept and approach resonated with me. I wanted to enjoy running again instead of it being a chore. Becoming a happy runner was one of the key ingredients for success at RoF.

Back to the reasons why I finished.

Finishing with John, Gavin & Lou (L to R – I am 2nd from R) after 135 miles

The two other main ingredients were my training programme and the people I ran with. There is also a dose of luck, which I believe we feed into with our own personal approach. So maybe it’s not luck after all, and certainly not pure luck.

I will not give you a detailed outline of my programme, designed by Damian. It was not stand alone from his encouragement either. Suffice to say, it was all about complete (and happy) preparation for the journey.

On completing RoF I sent Damo a message.

He replied, Impressed but not surprised. What a super encouraging response. And suggesting I make notes on how it went. Now that’s a great idea.

Because it’s all about learning. What did I learn? I’m sharing a few things here and maybe some more in weeks to come.

Now, the people. To me this is what really makes ultrarunning.

A few days before I did not know a single person. Now I have made connections that I hope will remain for life. Because of what we achieved together.

Togetherness and interbeing are insights I often work with people I see as a professional helper. Within these connections sit the richness of life. Sharing this experience makes it what it is; so special and so powerful.

For hours we trot along, sometimes talking, sometimes in silence. But together. You are backing someone and they you within just a few hours of meeting. And it is natural. This is what we are meant to do, not just in an ultramarathon, but in life.

The emotion on finishing was overwhelming. Because of the connections and the fact that we had done it together. I did not complete that course on my own. It was with superb people, four in particular: Helen, Lou, Hayley, John and Gavin.


And the support people and all the other runners. Everyone played their part in creating the conditions for what was to happen.


And what happened, it was the only thing that could have happened.

Are these experiences life changing? Absolutely. But only because of the people and togetherness.


upandrun ~ encouraging you to be active in your own way, and supporting The Green Runners (make your pledge!) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) (see future posts for my work with MAP that is coming up soon).

** If you have enjoyed this and want to keep up to date with Understand Pain and upandrun, please do subscribe.

Ring O’ Fire Ultra

A trot around Anglesey for upandrun.

September 2-4.

135 miles, a lot of coast, a couple of hard floors and an adventure.

This is my yearly ultra, flying the flag for Understand Pain as ever.

But I also want to encourage others to be active and try things. Especially in nature, whilst looking after it.

To that end, I have joined The Green Runners: runners creating change.

Set up by ultrarunner Damian Hall & Dan Lawson from Rerun.

Here is what they say: “We are a community-based group of runners focused on helping make the world around us a better place. We are looking for Runners from around the world that want to make personal changes to help our planet. We have created some pillars/pledges to help you make the right choices that we all need to strive for if we are going to make a difference.”

Check them out and join up. Get a badge and sew it on your kit.

Here is my pledge.

And one of my badges.

Do you want to help upandrun?

You can by doing the following:

  • Learn about pain by watching the videos and listening to the podcasts
  • Grab my book when it comes out
  • Share the messages that we put out
  • Follow on Instagram and like the posts: upandrun1 for running stuff & paincoach for understanding pain stuff
  • Point people in our direction

Back to the training for ROF, it’s going well.

A few more long runs and then tapering.

It’ll come around soon enough.



My book

Photo by Pixabay on

I am in the final edits of the manuscript before it heads off to the editors.

The plan is for it to be published and available in early ’23.

What’s it about?

It is a practical guide to help you understand and overcome your pain, based on my work with the people I see.

It has been and is a tough assignment.

I am never entirely satisfied. New ideas are coming all the time.

I spend time each day thinking about what I do, how I do it and how we can make it better. This will always be the case. So, I will draw a line soon.

Then we can get it out into the world where I hope it will make a difference to many people’s lives.

This is also why I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front.

Bear with me.


Site tidy UP

Photo by Pixabay on

It’s been a while!

So I have had a little tidy up of the site.

To clarify the main purpose of UP.

To highlight upandrun, which is the way I raise awareness of the problem of pain.

It is also to encourage activity in nature.

The video page remains and I have added some podcasts and episodes.

As ever, we strive to help society understand and overcome pain.

A few more posts to follow with the latest news.


The Encourager

New newsletter for encouragers on 13th October

Who encourages the encouragers?

Who cares for the carers?

The newsletter is for people who encourage others as a matter of character, approach to life and occupation.

Coaches, teachers, parents, leaders, managers, healthcare professionals can all be encouragers. It is a way of being.

Everyone benefits

That’s the beauty of encouragement.

The person encouraged benefits — how does it feel when you are heard, seen and encouraged?

The encourager benefits — helping others is a healthy practice.

From here comes the ripple effect. The encouraged and the encouragers actions ripple out as the positive energy created by the initial interaction is passed on and on.

Starting the day by encouraging someone could be the best thing you can do!

October 13th

Sign up here for The Encourager to land in your inbox.

It would be great to have you in the community. R


Finding purpose

The moment I realised my purpose was a WOW!

It took lots of thinking and talking to people. Years worth!

And experiences to reflect upon.

Then we need words to think it and share it.

You’ll know when it comes — it can be at anytime when you are doing the work.

It is like rocket fuel!

What do you love doing?

This is often at the heart of it.

Think about times you are in flow.

You are immersed in what you are doing without any sense of self.

You are performing, energised, playing to your strengths and time passes by without notice.

You see patterns and respond naturally without thought.

What is it that you love doing?

If you can, make your purpose what you do

Living your purpose each day brings great personal rewards and health.

Through your giving, sharing and compassion for others.

What you do helps to shape your purpose too — a circular causality.

Alan Wick, business coach, once said to me: sharpen your arrow.

I have been doing this for some years and it continues.

Make your message clear — to yourself and others.

What did I discover?

Through lots of talking to encouragers, especially Mike Pegg, reading, noting, and thinking, it came to me.

It is very straightforward. Simple language.

The words used often by Mike that have rubbed off.

I feel at my best when pursuing this purpose.

I love helping people shape positive futures.

In particular, people who have been suffering persistent pain.

I was encouraged and guided to find my purpose. Now I love to help other people find theirs.

That’s it.

I am here to help.



Client not progressing as you hoped due to persistent pain?

You are trying your hardest to help them, but whatever you try does not seem to work.

We have all been there.

It’s so frustrating.

And we often start blaming ourselves. Or them.


There’s a way forward

When you understand pain and the reasons why it can persist you will see a way forward.

You become unstuck.

Join my webinar on Tuesday October 19th at 7pm to find out how.

Reserve your place here.

Richmond Stace
The Pain Coach | Pain Specialist | Chartered Physio | Hon Clinical Lecturer


  • What is persistent pain?
  • Why does it persist?
  • What can we do to help people move forward and get results?


Bring your questions.

What do you want to know?

What is one question that would make a difference to you?

You can email me before if you like:

2 giveaways: where am I going?

I will randomly pick 2 people from those who ask questions (whether answered or not).

They will be invited to a free Pain Coach Mentoring session that will help you take the first step towards your ideal career.

See you there!


Here is the link again just in case: click here to get unstuck

Dealing with disappointment

Roll with it – disappointment

Twice I have pulled out of events this year. It does not feel good.

A deep disappointment and regular waves of regret. There seem to be reminders everywhere.

In May I stopped halfway into a 100k race. I also took a wrong turn that meant I had to run 12k back to the start — 62k total. Should have just kept going, part of me said.

This month I pulled out at 90k along the South Downs Way. Should have slept for a bit and then kept going, bit by bit, part of me said.

That part of me always chimes in.

How to deal with the disappointment?

Three ideas to share with you.

1. Take a perspective

Zooming out, I quickly realised that whilst it matters, there are other considerations.

When you look at the bigger picture of your life and those around you, how does that feel?

2. In that moment, you made the best decision

There are always circumstances. Some things we cannot control and some we can.

What were the circumstances surrounding that decision and action?

What could you control?

3. The art of setting one’s expectations

I spend a lot of time working with people on the skill and art and practice of setting expectations.

When we set them too high and what actually happens comes in low, we feel bad.

Or we push on when we should stop.

Neither works.

What is realistic? You can certainly be positive in as much as you focus on what you can do, but tied with what is possible.

Positive realism.

If you think it might be possible, break the task into chunks and take it steps by step – achievable steps.

Your ideas

There are many other ways to deal with disappointment.

Of course, it is inevitable in life. So having skills to deal with it is better than being surprised.

What do you do to deal with your disappointment?

Do share your thoughts so others can benefit.


A day of ups and downs

Who would have thought that I would bump into an old friend on the edge of town? As I approached a T-junction on the path, three cyclists appeared from the right.

Richmond, the front rider called out.

It was Gideon, who I had not seen for years. We caught up, exchanged some jokes and stories. It was a real booster.

I expected the day to go well.

From the other end my support Peck was on his bike, peddling from Cocking.

I think the terrain was a bit tougher than he expected. I imagined him gritting his teeth, pumping his long legs and listening to Test Match Special.

We met at Alan’s Coffee van.

Alan makes real coffee from the back of his transit. He also sells snacks not dissimilar from those you’d find at a ultra aid station. Turns out that Alan is an ultrarunner.

Then we found out that his name was Andrew.

Refreshed, I trotted off down the hill towards Cocking. Peck headed off towards Winchester. His plan was to cycle to the city, then turn around and head back to the van: our first rendezvous.

It was warm but I was sipping away at my water and Precision Hydration drink. I think perhaps this is where things may have been going awry. The sips may not have been enough.

My legs were feeling great inasmuch as I was not feeling them. The struggle of May seemed a million miles away. This was so very different. The pleasure of running returned.


I can’t remember the exact moment when things started to change. There was a shift of state.

Not feeling good is part of the journey. It is expected. You deal with it in different ways — I have a toolbox of strategies. Usually it is pain.

This time is wasn’t pain. It was waves of nausea. I had not had that before during a run.

One of my first actions when feeling bad is to have a nibble. It often works. Eating a morsel of food creates a different sensory experience: getting something out of a pouch, followed by the flavour and the texture are all useful.

Something changed for the better but I did notice a lack of saliva. I continued to sip. I continued to nibble. I continued to trot along. The trotting felt good.

The ease of running was gradually being replaced with increasing nausea. It was not going away. The water was fine, but the hydration drink I had to force down. The van seemed miles away, although on the map it was only a couple. Time and distance are easily distorted, so it is best to try and move your thoughts away.

I remember reaching the van with such relief. Still my legs felt fine, but I was rough. Flu-like tiredness, persisting nausea and just blaaagh. I decided to take a good break, take on some water, salt tablets and try some food.

The salt tablets may have helped. The water was going down but threatening to come back up.

I’ll have a nap, I thought. After all, I had been running since 9:15am and now it was early evening.

I dozed for fifteen minutes and woke urgently, thinking that I needed food. Let’s try some pasta – I’d made pesto pasta. It was like trying to eat small plastic toys. Chew, chew, chew, gulping swallow. Nausea.

I know that horrible feelings and perceptions come and go – nothing is permanent. So I decided to get going, believing that I would feel better soon.

I set off into the evening. The sun was just peeping over the hills, dyeing the sky with reds, pinks and oranges. Bumbling up the track, I checked in the with kids.

19k to Amberley. That’s fine I thought. A few hours.

This was the toughest part of the day. It was dark. I had a circle of light ahead via the head torch — just running and thinking. I knew it was part of the deal. This is one of the reasons for ultra running and one of the major obstacles to deal with.

It was becoming a real battle. The stream of thoughts occasionally interrupted by shadows, dark shapes, stars and occasional shuffles in the hedgerow. But the predominant feeling was nausea. There was an occasional stumble.

I continued to sip, just. I tried to nibble. But I could feel my energy dropping off with each step.

A text came through from Peck with an image of a camp set up at the rear of his van at Amberley station. He told me that the kettle was set up. Rooibos tea kept appearing in my mind – that’s what I wanted. It soon became an obsessional thought.

The relief on seeing the van was enormous. In my own thinking, that was it. I had no energy to carry on. Peck had other ideas.

Two cups of Rooibos later and I was feeling better. Still no food though. Peck offered me various things that were easy to get down, but my body was having none of it. Kendall mint cake could just about sit in my mouth and dissolve.

Following some banal chatting and memory sifting, there was a brief negotiation. I agreed that taking on the next stage was possible – a short 10k to Washington. By the way, my legs still felt really good at this point.

Off I went, back onto the Way.

I had already noted that the Ultra Challenge was going the other way. The luminous green markers hanging on fences and trees gave it away, together with the blackness punctuated by bobbing headtorches.

There is something warming about exchanging encouragement in the dark as I passed the walkers (the runners had long since gone by). A few thought I was going the wrong way.

The first few kilometres felt good. My energy was lifted. I was running up a hill without much effort. Soon enough this dropped off. The struggle resumed. I managed the occasional wine gum, but nothing else. Even water repulsed.

The route was familiar. I have run this part of the SDW many times, so the mist made no difference. Yet I was moving slowly. Very slowly. I am not sure how long it took to cover that 10k, but it felt like hours.

I arrived at the van parked near the church in Washington at about 230am. I knew at that stage it was the end of the day.


Next up: dealing with the disappointment of a DNF and learnings