You’ve done it. You’ve become a regular runner and couldn’t be prouder of yourself. And then at some point down the line, you start experiencing problems you didn’t even know existed.
I remember it was about a year into my new running habit, I felt some discomfort during my usual run for the first time. It was my left foot and I could barely walk on it, let alone run. The pain was so severe; I had tears in my eyes. Picture this: lady jumping on her right foot with tears streaming down her face. Definitely not one of my best moments while out running.
Pain aside, it’s great it happened. It was the wake-up call I needed to…
…change my running shoes.
Running shoes get worn out depending on how long you have them for and how much mileage you run with them. Go figure!
I had to take a break from running for a week. I was devastated. Even shopping for new running shoes didn’t save me from my depression. Fellow runners get that, right?!
As great a habit as running is, all good habits come with some sort of problems. Some of these problems I experienced first-hand and others – through friends’ stories. In regards to the latter, I hope I won’t be experiencing any of their issues any time soon, if ever.
5 Running Problems
(You Hope to Never Experience) & How to Cope
This is by far one of the most important factors when running. If you don’t breathe right, you won’t go far. It’s that simple. Your body needs a lot more oxygen when running. What I do now especially during those long runs of 10k and over, is breathe through my nose and mouth. That allows more oxygen to enter your bloodstream.
How do you know you’re not breathing right?
You get tired faster than usual and need a break or you get those annoying side stitches.
Side stitches can be felt usually because of lack of oxygen. Of course, if you’ve had a rich meal up to a couple of hours before your run or drunk a lot of water right before, side stitches will undoubtedly be felt.
I used to eat a bowl of peanuts about an hour before my run because someone told me they make you run faster. Sure they do if you give your body plenty of time to digest them before your run.
Which leads me to the next issue…
Ever met a runner who didn’t suffer from digestive problems? No, neither have I.
I remember after completing my first marathon, instead of collecting my medal and enjoying the glory of the moment, I had to rush and locate the loo. And I was in there for a good half an hour.
Even if your diet isn’t that particularly rich, digestive issues can creep on at any time. Long distance runners are especially prone to these. I find that a healthy diet and one that is filled with foods, as the saying goes: “closer to the ground”. That means nuts, vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses, rice, etc.
What foods should you avoid before a run or a race?
- Processed foods
- Fast foods
- Sugary treats
- Spicy foods
- Fatty meat
You should definitely not try a new cuisine before a run. It’s widely believed you should have pizza before a long-distance run but make sure you make your own with whole meal flour instead of ordering from your local pizza joint.
Runner’s Knee Pain
Knee pain is a common complaint in regular runners. The pain is felt either slightly above or below the kneecap. It’s usually felt when increasing your mileage or when running uphill or downhill. In the worst case, the knee would swell up.
While I’ve never experienced knee pain to a great extent, I’ve had the occasional pain in my left knee especially after longer runs without a break in between.
Knee pain is usually the result of hip and lower back problems. As soon as I feel the slightest pain in one of my hips now, I’d take a break from running and focus on my core by doing a lot of stretching and restorative yoga. The majority of these injuries are caused by weaker body core and strength. Focusing on your core prevents these from happening in the future. And in the meantime, light stretches and some rest prevents this from escalating into a full-blown running injury where you would be seeking the help of a professional.
This is a science on its own. A runner’s feet are under an immense pressure to perform and hold your body’s weight while you run. My feet have experienced all sorts of issues in my years of running and I could never get my toenails to look as good as before I started running. But it’s a small price to pay for the immense benefits of running. Here are some of the feet issues I, and everyone I know who runs regularly, have gone through.
Are caused by the constant friction and rubbing between your toes and the front of your shoes. The worst case scenario is the nail can fall off but don’t fret as it will grow right back. Preferably that happens after your beach holiday, right? My toenail has been black for the past year and with summer upon us, here’s hoping.
The only thing to prevent this is wearing the right shoe size and learning to lace your shoes better to prevent movement of feet inside the shoes.
Another issue caused by friction are blisters.
These aren’t a serious injury in themselves but feel uncomfortable and can prevent you from running. They are also caused by sweat so wearing moisturizing breathable socks and the right shoe size can help prevent their occurrence. If you have a blister but don’t want to miss your run, make sure you put a thick plaster on the area so it doesn’t rub off on your shoe. Off you go.
Caused by excessive sweatiness between your toes, contact with another person or a wet, contaminated surface, this fungal infection needs proper treatment. Your local pharmacy should offer you plenty of gels and potions to treat it but definitely see a doctor if it doesn’t get better with medical products.
To prevent it, make sure you wear proper breathable socks and dry your running shoes properly after a run. When I first started running, I had the habit of owning one pair of trainers that I’d also wear when out and about but that’s changed now. I usually have a good two running pairs that I wear throughout the week and make sure I have a third one when running errands. Running shoes only get put on when running.
This is heel or arch pain that feels like a dull ache or bruise. It involves small tears and inflammation of the tendons and ligaments of the foot. Rest and a physio appointment might well be needed when experiencing it.
I used to experience it quite often. It’s a tingling sensation in your foot or toes when running. Caused by shoes that are too small or shoe laces too tight. Wearing the right shoes and socks can really fix a lot of the issues faced by runners.
The resulting injury from placing too much pressure on your shins, heel and feet bones by running. Like most serious injuries, it’s a progressive one so it comes on as a warning with some pain when running and progresses to full-blown pain during your run or even when standing up for longer periods of time if left untreated. When the latter occurs, a visit to a physiotherapist is needed who will guide you through treatment and recovery. Taking a simple break will likely fix it in the very beginning.
These are the most common types of a runner’s issues in mine and my friends’ running experiences. The goal is to build your core and body strength to a point where simple injuries can be prevented by having a solid basis for your active lifestyle. Some people swear by complementing their running with lifting weights. Others swear by using yoga to strengthen the core. Stretching before and after a run is highly recommended though the experts tend to disagree on this point, too. Especially the after-a-run stage.
Whatever you prefer doing, don’t forget to put the right socks and shoes on. That alone will prevent plenty of unpleasant running experiences.