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.
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.
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!