29 Mar

To Run Or Not To Run?


Injuries are part and parcel of running, but does it always mean you have to pull out of races? Chris Broadbent discusses…

Warning: what you are about to read might be deemed as bad advice; please don’t take it that way. Sometimes I have taken a route probably not recommended by a doctor, probably not by anybody. But, assuming you are a grown up, you’re big enough to make up your own mind on what’s best for you.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law are on the cusp of running their first ever marathon next weekend, in sunny Manchester no less. The problem is that they are both struggling with injury. My sister-in-law with sore knees, my brother-in-law with a bad ankle. Should they be running? Probably not. Will they? Don’t know. Would I? Probably yes.

Their dilemma is doubled when it’s their first marathon. Your first is always a big deal. It was for me, it is for every marathon runner. All your friends and family know, you have raised loads of sponsors for charity, you have carefully selected your race day kit and trainers, you know EXACTLY how many weeks are left to the big day. So, pulling out just doesn’t seem like an option.

It was the same for me for my first marathon. Both knees were creaking and in pain. But in the end, I strapped them up, applied some pain-killing gel and gritted my teeth and I did it! Was I sore afterwards? Very. Was there any long-term damage? No.

Similarly, I had knee issues when cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats a few years later having badly undercooked my cycling training. Every night my knees were swollen and sore. I did think there would be permanent damage, but I still ploughed on motivated by the achievement. It did get painful, but again, time healed and no long-term damage was done.

Would I recommend any of this? Of course not. But would I encourage someone to pull out of an event based on injury? I prefer to keep my counsel. It’s purely an individual decision.