I read this great piece in Women’s Running Magazine on good pain verses bad pain and had to share it with my own readers! I’ve been talking a lot about these two and how a runner needs to understand the difference in order to push themselves to improve but know when to back off.
At the start of every high school cross country season, you get a lot of new runners to the sport that have never pushed their bodies like this before. What 15 year old (before they join a cross country team) has ever run a 35-plus mile week before? Done mile repeats at tempo pace (six times in a row)? And then followed it all up with 25 hill climbs on a massive trash mountain? I bet very few…
And as a result, these new runners push themselves (like they should) and feel the lactic acid build up in the legs, the pain in their muscles, the trouble catching their breathe, and so on. This is all “good pain” as we call it. It’s the stuff that makes you better – that is if you push through it.
However, at the same time, some runners feel different pains – pulls in their hamstrings, sore knees, shin splints, and serious trouble catching their breathe to the point of hyperventilation…These are what we call “bad pain” in some cases. (I’d say shin splints are a bad pain – but one that us runners know we have to push through…and keep running – on the grass or softer surfaces whenever possible.)
I tell my students all the time – know your body. Don’t quit a workout for “good pain” because then you’ll never reach your potential. At the same time, tell us (your coaches) when you have bad pain so that we can adjust if necessary. And by adjust I mean – send you to the pool or bike for a workout; and in worse cases, send you to the doctor to get checked out.
Anyway – here’s the article…and let me know what “good pain” feels like to you!?