The Gravitational Pull of Running

This morning a runner client of mine who has been suffering on and off with Achilles’ tendon issues limped down my stairs following a speed session he chose to run last night. He said this was likely the worst it’s been in a while. He just came to see me last week but says he has had the pain nagging after runs since June. I suggested to him that perhaps this was a sign that a couple of weeks off speedwork may help the cause. The silence that befell him was telling. He then said ” but I have Around the Bay coming up in a month”. My reply was ” would you like to be able to run ATB or do you want to be where you were last year with your other Achilles…..on the shelf that is”. Sullenly he said ” I know”.

I thought about this through the morning. As runners the hardest thing for us not to do is run. There is this gravitational pull making us run sometimes even though in our hearts we know we shouldn’t. Injuries plague the majority of runners from time to time. It’s all part of the sport we love. Often how one chooses to structure their training, recovery, nutrition, race planning and level of patience determines their running longevity.

Having had 17 weeks off running from my stress fractures last spring and summer I feel like I have gained some wisdom in my own approach to training, nutrition, recovery and patience. I love to run. Take anything else away from me in the sporting realm and I won’t be nearly as bummed as when running is taken from me. This keeps me recalling my experiences of last year and my thought processes when it comes to backing off a workout, or taking an extra easy or rest day regardless of what the schedule may dictate. It’s so important to keep the bigger picture in mind to stay healthy.

I truly hope my client will take my advice and the suggestion of a cross training or rest day I suggested for tomorrow as he said “I guess I shouldn’t run tomorrow night huh?”. My response to him was if you are questioning yourself when to run and when not to run then I think you know the answer. It’s so important to be able to talk yourself down from overdoing it but often that little rational voice inside is all we need to train ourselves to listen to and respect.

The majority of people I know who run and clients I treat who run have this gravitational pull to continuing to run despite what their bodies may otherwise be telling them to do. It’s very interesting and lends to much speculation about what it is about running vs. many other endurance activities that causes this strong force. For me, it’s the ease of putting my shoes on and being out in the fresh air. The free feeling and “high” that I start to feel after the first ten minutes of getting the creaks out of my body. The accomplished feeling of completing a speed or tempo workout that may have intimidated me on paper. The time I spend thinking with myself as I enjoy solo running. I have to admit that no other endurance activity or strength activity provides me with these same feelings. I like to think that there are others out there who have similar sentiments and have a hard time replacing that when it is taken away from them due to illness or injury.


Be smart out there and remember to keep the bigger picture in the back of your mind the next time you question whether or not you should complete that planned run.

Why do you run? Do you feel that gravitational pull? Let me know!


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