I know I said in yesterday’s post (My Summer Runner’s World Run Streak) that I would carry on running. But today I am resting. I have chosen to listen to my body. My legs are fatigued and my brain is a bit tired. Today the runner’s high was just not worth chasing, because sometimes you just have to rest. I have a good reason to listen to my body today, after a discovery I made during my recent Runner’s World Run Streak.
During the last 36 days of daily running, I began to notice that my legs were getting very tired. Around day 20 I was struggling to get moving and had to reduce my speed to barely a plod. I initially put this down to the impact of running every day, coupled with a run of sleepless nights with a teething BM. I hoped that as the challenge progressed, my body would adjust, but it didn’t. This began to cause me some concern, as I felt that I was feeling overly tired for the distance I was completing. Until a possible answer turned up on social media.
As a follower of Runner’s World on Facebook, an article popped up one day. The Essential Guide to Hypermobility for Runners. This stood out for me, as in 2007 I was diagnosed with Hypermobility after I dislocated my shoulder during a kickboxing session. The injury was caused when I was engaged in pad work with another girl. She used an uppercut, not overly forceful, the impact of which caused my shoulder to jump clean out of the socket. I was referred for physio and after a few weeks and lots of exercises, only a small amount of improvement was seen. Afew more tests were undertaken and I was found to have Hypermobility in most of my joints.
What is Hypermobility
Hypermobility is more commonly known as being double jointed. I am not a contortionist, but I do have an over extension in some of my joints. For example, I can lock my knees backwards and touch my little fingers bend backwards 45 degrees. After my initial diagnosis, I believed that this was only a problem should my joints experience direct impact, such as the uppercut did to my shoulder. However, the Runner’s World article highlighted another possible issue.
I failed to consider the fact that, whilst running, your foot striking the ground is an impact. The repercussions of which are felt throughout your body. Those of us with Hypermobility, will experience an instability in the joints. Particularly those in the ankle, knee and hip. This may also explain why, often without warning, I have been known to just fall down. At last an explanation for my clumsiness! One of the side effects of this is that all of your leg muscles over compensate to provide stability. Essentially, a shorter run for me is worth twice as much often resulting in tired old legs.
Along with muscle fatigue, other indicators of Hypermobility are; recurring injuries and overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the foot and ankle). This is something I also suffer from. I always purchase my trainers from a specialist running store with a full gait analysis for this reason. Since I started doing this I have seen a reduction in my injuries. It is advisable to wear appropriate clothing for this. I once attended wearing a strapless maxi dress, not cool surrounded by serious running types.
I would always recommend a gait analysis if purchasing running shoes. It will take place within the shop on a tread mill. Please leave your embarrassment at the door, it will only take a few minutes and the benefits are worth it. The assistant will film your feet running and make an assessment of your running style. It is also helpful to take your old trainers with you. They can tell a lot about your running style from the location of any wear and tear on the tread. Once a style of shoe has been suggested, you will run in them on the tread mill again to check that they are doing what they should. The science really is fascinating.
“Be gentle on yourself, tune into your body…”
So what does this all mean for my running adventures. Well having read around the subject, it would appear that my general advice on running is spot on. I need to be careful of my speed and distance. I can still accomplish longer distances and improve my speed, I just need to take precautions. I need to incorporate strength work into my workouts to improve overall muscle strength. This does not need to be a regular boot camp, regular Pilates will suffice. Something I have been looking into already.
Having an assessment done by my GP and a referral to a physiotherapist is also advisable. This is to assess any specific areas that may need some attention. Also, and most importantly, regular rest is advised. Which is what today is about. This morning I listened to my legs saying, “I am tired”. Does it mean I won’t run tomorrow? Of course not. I still intend to run daily, when I can, for all the benefits it brings. However, sometimes we just need a rest. It doesn’t also mean that I can no longer aspire to further distances either. As Georgia Scarr, writing for Runner’s World says in her conclusion; “Be gentle on yourself, tune into your body and you can still hit your running goals”.