Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Running lessons: Pay attention to the signs

It's funny how people can ignore things they don't want to see. I guess that's why we need signs in odd places - like these two on the quiet laneway that leads into Peace Park. When I noticed them on Sunday, I wondered why on earth they were there. There's never much traffic in the park and it's mostly used by families with kids and dogs. Is it really necessary to tell drivers to slow down?

Of course, even when there are signs, people sometimes choose to ignore them. A couple of weeks ago, Husband and I were at the beach and noticed a large family scale a fence and clamber across the dunes to the beach - despite a huge sign attached to the fence admonishing them to stay off the dunes. I found it astonishing that parents would set such a poor example for their kids but I guess the extra two minutes it would have taken to walk to the boardwalk was too great an inconvenience.  :-(

Runners often choose to ignore signs too. For example, many pop large numbers of "vitamin I" (ibuprofen) pills in an effort to ignore the signs that their bodies are struggling to keep up with what's being asked of them. Personally, I never take ibuprofen before or during a run but, occasionally, I'm as guilty as other runners of ignoring messages from my body.

That fact was brought home to me Monday night when I went to see Karen, my massage therapist. I've had trouble with my right shoulder since I injured it shoveling snow in February and it's been frustratingly slow to heal. For a few days, it feels fine and then I do something to irritate it and spend the next week wincing every time I pick up my briefcase or open a heavy door. This past week, the pain was particularly bad - to the point that my shoulder hurt when I ran - so I asked Karen to give it some special attention.

Midway through the treatment, I almost wished I hadn't. It turned out three of four rotator cuff muscles had gotten extremely tight, which in turn had caused a mild case of tendonitis. If I didn't get serious about dealing with the injury, Karen warned, there was a serious risk I'd develop frozen shoulder - in which case, I could kiss many of my favourite activities goodbye for goodness knows how long. Her treatment involved doing some deep tissue work that was quite painful and left my arms and shoulders throbbing for more than a day but, fortunately, seems to have had the desired effect. My shoulder is moving much more freely now and it felt fine when I went for my run this morning.

Of course, my shoulder injury could be a sign that I should be taking it easier this fall but, having completed my second hill training session, I really don't think so. Running up and down hills felt good - so good that I'm confident my body's up to the challenge. Instead, I'm hoping the injury is simply a sign that I need to pay closer attention to my form and be more diligent about stretching and icing after every workout.

What about you, friends? Are there signs you've ignored - in relation to running or some other part of your life - and now wish you hadn't? How do you decide which signs to ignore and which to take seriously?

In closing, here's a summary of last week's training:
Total # of runs: 4
Total mileage: 39.5k
Longest run: 19k
Hill training sessions: 1 (3 x hills)
Tempo runs: 1 x 6k


  1. Hope that shoulder is better soon - one of the girls I run with has a shoulder issue from kickboxing and she says it gives her extreme grief when she runs (she's using a shoulder tensor bandage). You think it's the legs that take the brunt when running!!

    As for signs - I've very much a sign person, unfortunately I seem to never 'get' them until after the fact. Then they become overly obvious - the old "Hindsight is 20/20" issue!! But I do try to acknowledge it and let it go - regret doesn't get you anywhere!

    So, have you decided? Marathon and/or Newfoundland Hill From Hell????

    1. Thanks, J. My shoulder still seems to improving - albeit slowly. Went for a ride on my motorcycle last night followed by a tempo run and could definitely feel it this morning. Will keep icing and stretching and hope it improves.

      As of yesterday, I'm registered for Newfoundland. :-) Not sure yet whether I'll do a full or a half marathon in Sept. If my long runs continue to feel okay, I may opt for the full with a less ambitious time goal. The course looks great, with lots of rolling hills which my body seems to prefer to a totally flat course. Will keep you posted on what I decide.

      See you soon, I hope!