How to keep running with pain

Man running on park path

One of the worst recommendations for injured runners is to stop running.

There are instances when rest is appropriate, but when you stop running your body changes. Muscles and bones get weaker. Your heart and lungs become less efficient. And your mental health often goes into the gutter. So a high priority for me is to keep runners running.

Your garden variety muscle, tendon, and joint pain is often malleable. If you look hard enough, you often find pain to ebb and flow during different running environments. Some injuries feel better running slower, faster, or in different shoes. Finding the times when things feel better is essential.

Let’s break down the four key regions injuries occur and the simple adjustments I regularly find helpful. A subtle change in one variable can often hold all the difference between continued training and being on the sidelines.

You can find a PDF of all four regions and a guide for navigating pain at the bottom of this blog.

“Run at a conversational pace on relatively flat ground in comfortable shoes.”

  • Keep training at a conversational pace (faster running places greater demand on your hip/pelvis)
  • Train on relatively flat ground (running uphill requires greater hip range of motion).
  • Run outside or on a treadmill
  • Wear your most comfortable shoes

“Run at a conversational to slightly faster pace, with a 5-10% increase in step rate on flat to slightly uphill terrain.”

  • Keep training at a conversational pace to slightly faster pace (faster running may feel better).
  • Increase your step rate by 5-10% (a slightly increases step rate decreases knee load)
  • Run on at slight incline (1-2%) potentially on a treadmill
  • Wear slightly lower drop shoes than normal
  • Break up your longer efforts with 30-60” walking breaks every 5-10 minutes.

“Run at a conversational pace on relatively flat terrain, with a slight increase in step rate wearing higher drop shoes.”

  • Keep training at a conversational pace.
  • Run on relatively level ground likely outside
  • Potentially increase your step rate by 5-10%
  • Wear higher drop shoes (higher drop shoes load your foot/ankle less)

“Run outside at a conversational pace on relatively level terrain wearing higher drops shoes that don’t pinch your forefoot.”

  • Train at conversational pace (foot pain is often aggravated by running faster)
  • Run outside instead of on the treadmill (treadmill running places higher loads on your foot an ankle)
  • Wear shoes with a slightly higher drop that doesn’t “pinch” your forefoot (higher drop shoes load your foot/ankle less)

I hope you found this helpful and remember to grab the infographics I mentioned below.
Most importantly, if you’re concerned about pain when you’re running, get it checked out!

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