3 Steps to Figure Out if You Should Run


Niggle: a trifling complaint, dispute, or criticism

If you run, you’re going to get niggles. They’re those little aches and pains. They’re what crop up during the taper, making us doubt ourselves and wonder if we’ve injured ourselves. They’re those little pains you just can’t seem to shake — or the pain that starts out of nowhere.

Last week, the day before my long run, I suddenly felt some pain in my calf. Like the residual pain from a Charley Horse, which thankfully I’ve only experienced a time or two. Only I hadn’t had one. Oddly my hamstring had cramped up out of the blue that week, but my calf was fine.

So what’s a runner with a niggle to do?

Don’t pop that analgesic!
I almost never take anything for niggles. Analgesic mask the pain, which could mean you’ll run harder than you sure and deepen the problem.

What I do instead: I use Doterra Deep Blue Rub. Yes, it’s expensive, but it lasts me for years; you can get it from Amazon here (Amazon Affiliate link). You can also get it in single use packs, which I use for travel — order that from Amazon here.

I’ve tried a few other topicals, but frankly this is what works for me. Often I will also tape the offending body part, but since my compression socks covered my calfs (and that’s the second thing to do — compress!), I didn’t feel the need to tape.

Pay attention to your gait
Is the pain altering how you run? Are you limping? Are you shortening or elongating your stride? Are you changing how your foot strikes the ground? Any change in your gait is a signal to not run, and give it a couple of days of rest. At least one day of rest!

Pay attention to how you feel the day after you run
You might feel completely fine when you run. Endorphins are a wonderful thing — except when they’re masking the pain. If you’re limping the next day, or the pain worsens, you need to take a couple of days off of running.

Taking time off of running while you’re training for something is a pain. But sometimes it’s a bigger pain if you try to tough it out. Even taking time off of running when you’re not training for something can be difficult, because so many of us use running as our “therapy”. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Look closely. The knees are always taped for long races — it gives me peace of mind

Final thoughts
It’s never quite this easy, of course, to know when a niggle really requires rest and when it doesn’t. We runners are a stubborn bunch. If the pain continues and you’re altering your gait, with lingering pain the next day, it’s time to either give running a rest and/or seek some medical help (preferably someone who is well schooled in running, and won’t just tell you to stop running without getting to the bottom of the cause of your pain.

My personal motto is live to run another day. Unless I ignore all of the above, in which case it’s do as I say, not as I do. As for me, the calf pain disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared — and thank goodness for that!

When do you know that it’s time to take some time off of running?

Is it easy or hard for you to take time off of running?

What do you do when you’re sidelined from running? 


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.


30 thoughts on “3 Steps to Figure Out if You Should Run

  1. Good that your calf pain disappeared! I find that foam rolling also helps a lot with certain types of niggles.
    Just yesterday I was talking to another runner who had continued to run through pain – and he paid bitterly for it. He would definitely share your view (and so do I, of course): take a rest, get to the bottom of it and live to run another day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey…are you talking to me?

    Ha Ha.

    The test is if the pain gets worse the next time you run and if it is still there the day after you run.

    So I continue to run because none of these occur.

    But it is not fun when you hurt while running. Running is hard enough without the injury pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously, I did not at all have you in mind. The idea came to me because of my calf bothering me.

      No, it is not fun to run in pain. Which is why I train for races, pretty much no matter the distance. It’s not a guarantee, but for me, it’s helpful.


      1. training unfortunately does not always prevent injuries and I think almost all of mine did not result from running. Still it could be worse.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so hard to know when a little niggle is really the sign of something bigger. I have made the mistake too many times of ignoring something. I hope I’ve learned from it!Thanks in advance for joining the Wednesday Runners Roundup

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Having been sidelined for MONTHS, I think it’s safe to say that “going insane” is what I’m doing. It’s always been hard for me to take time off: the last time I had to to take a few weeks was when I tweaked my hip flexor and it was rough.

    I think I’ll pay more attention to my niggles when I am back out there. I think I will always be nervous about my leg.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. NIggles are so tricky! And runners are quite skilled at ignoring them. My hip thing has been weird…I’m pretty sure it’s from wearing a pair of shoes (at a race a few weeks ago) that are close to retirement. I didn’t know the course was going to be so hilly, so that added to the strain on my body in those compromised shoes. Thankfully, things are already feeling better…but I’m proceeding with caution.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have pain every day, so the challenge is to figure out if it’s something I can run with or not. I always try. If it’s serious, I’ll stop. 99% of the time, it’s not!

    PS Love love love doTerra Blue.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good advice, Judy. I think we all have run when we felt a “niggle” and lived to regret it. I certainly have. It’s not easy to call off a run but it’s better to miss a few days than a few months!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If I feel like I can run (even with a little pain) then I do run. Of course that is not the best choice. I remember my run on Labor Day and I had to stop because I was in so much pain and every step I took hurt a lot. Ugh! I had to stop running for about 3 weeks to recover (it was plantar fasciitis).

    Liked by 1 person

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