Running is a celebration of the abilities of our bodies, not a punishment to strengthen our misperceived weaknesses. It is crucial to listen to your body’s needs and know when a break is necessitated. Whether it be taking an extra day off in the week, stopping a workout when the pain hurts in the wrong kind of way, or taking an extended period of time off to recover from a more serious injury, it is important to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling, physically and mentally, and use the resources you have available to diagnose and recover.
Running may be easily mistaken as a physical sport, but a significant component to training and competing at your best requires mental strength far beyond what is normally required for other sports. In running, our success is defined by our ability to perform, and underperformance or injury can be mentally and emotionally defeating. On the other hand, busy schedules, difficult classes, relationships, and other academic or social pressures can add additional stresses to our bodies. High levels of stress can lead to heightened physical fatigue and bodily function failure which impair our ability to perform at the highest level. Since mental health is such a crucial aspect of this sport, it is important to routinely take time to check-in on yourself.
It is always acceptable to reach out to a leader that you trust to discuss any issue related to mental health. Brown offers counseling and other mental health services through CAPS. It is easy to schedule a session with them and we encourage you to do so if you need support for your mental wellbeing.
Recovery and Injury Prevention
Only you know your body the best, so be sure to listen to it! It is only through recovery that you can grow stronger. Taking time off from running is not only recommended, but is actually required by our bodies.
It is always important to stretch and to warm up before workouts. If you’re planning on running more than you have been, always build up slowly instead of suddenly increasing your mileage. Also, be sure that you’re wearing proper running shoes. If you have any questions about shoes, you can definitely talk to the captains!
Running can make you feel pain sometimes. It is normal and good for your muscles to feel sore when you run farther or harder than you normally do, because it means that you’re pushing yourself and are improving. However, if the pain is only on one side of your body or doesn’t go away, it could be due to injury. Common running injuries include shin splints, runner’s knee, stress fractures, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis.
It can be tempting to replace taking time off and taking care of your injuries with painkillers, but overdoing this will just make the situation worse, as you will push yourself before your body is ready.
Cross training can be good for injury prevention and to stay in shape while injured. Many members of running club bike and aquajog regularly, so ask us if you’re interested in cross training with other people.
Whether or not you are running consistently, eating right is important so that your body and mind can perform their best. Not having a balanced diet can make you more susceptible to injury.
On race days, our advice is to not change what you normally eat.
For some specific information and advice, check out Brown’s information on sports nutrition. You can also make a free appointment with the Brown dietician to discuss individual concerns.
Always remember, staying hydrated is key. Hydrate or diedrate!