If you decide to move from running “just for fun” to competitive running circles, you are going to have to learn how to live with pain. Though it may not sound like “fun,” it is a reality. No matter how much you love it, sometimes exercise just plain hurts – all the members of BOOTCAMP 619 are very familiar with that! However, if you do it right, you will find a balance between the difficulty of running and the stress it puts on your body, and the endorphins that make you enjoy it so much.
As you gain experience, you will learn how to balance the pleasure and pain. When working your muscles at new levels, they are not able to get the oxygen that they need. Once the glucose is exhausted, waste products, such as lactic acid, are produced. This is the main cause of muscle soreness. In addition, the mitochondria become swollen and small tears are made in the muscle. Though this will lead to muscle growth and strength in the long-run, it does hurt.
When you start to feel pain and exhaustion, try setting some small goals to distract yourself. Start with positive thoughts. When those run out, try passing the next runner. Some people have even said to imagine themselves racing an imaginary person or animal next to them. Another runner once mentioned that when they are passed by someone in a race, they imagine lassoing the opponent with a giant rubber band that pulls them forward.
It may sound crazy, but distractions can help you hurdle “the wall” and get through the difficult period.
For many runners, finishing the race is just half of the difficulty. The aftershocks of a hard run can be difficult. When you finish, make sure to keep walking. Walking for a mile after the run will help your body ease out of the stress and avoid shocking it. Make sure to drink plenty of liquids through the next day after your race.
Above all, don’t be discouraged! Wait at least a week after you finish the race to either schedule the next or vow to never race again!