Niggles, niggles, niggles…and is this pain all in my brain??

You know the feeling….
It’s a few weeks out from race day, you’re feeling pretty good.  

You’ve put in the work…but always feel like you could have done more.You’ve got your gear prepped…nothing new on race day right…right??You’ve checked out the race profile…or not, because who needs to know when the suffering will happen? eekkk!
You’ve paid the money, you’ve told your friends (and let’s be honest you’ve told some perfect strangers too!). 

‘Eye of the Tiger’ is playing and You. Are. Ready. To. Go.

The taper starts, and you feel a wee niggle, a wee pain, or do you??

I find the psychology of pain so interesting because pain isn’t simply the physical sensation.

Pain is a sensation that we quickly add layers of meaning too.

Pain is felt differently depending on what it means to us and what is at stake.  Pain can feel different depending on how important the activity is that we are doing.  We can listen to it or block it out, we can submit to it or, we can overcome it.  Knowing all this can help us, or it can hinder.  When you are really good at overcoming pain, you need to be careful that you don’t push so hard as to break yourself, on the flip side sometimes you can quit, pull back or pull out when it was more in your mind than your body.

I felt a niggle on the trail this weekend, one I hadn’t felt before and I canned my run and had a wee moment of worry.  I quickly talked myself out of the worry, but it’s always there isn’t it??  The little gnawing thought, is an injury lurking, hiding in the wings…waiting to jump out and sabotage the show like that possum that scared the **** out of you at 5am when you’re running in the dark past some idle tree!

Ohhhh the drama, the worry!  Who’s with me in this worry?!  Hands up those who worry about pre-race niggles?

Tapering is a time of having to control the mind, to trust the process, to know you did enough – or accept that you could have done more but the time has past and what will be will be.  No race-week hill reps are going to change how to race in 100 miles, in fact, you’ll probably sabotage yourself trying.

Yup, the psychology of pain is an interesting one.  A pain that might go largely unnoticed or in your head one day, might be the cause of feeling like the sky falling another day (and just like Henny Penny you feel the need to go tell everyone!).NB: Turns out no-one knows the folk story of Henny Penny, but you may have heard of chicken little??,No? Ah, well:)

So my tips and what I’m doing to manage, cope, and let’s face it, completely crush the ‘niggles’:

1. Stay away from Google…that’s right, don’t even have a sneaky look at what your pain might mean, you know Google is going to tell you that you are broken beyond repair and will NEVER RUN AGAIN ARRGGHHHH…oh and for just $99.99 a month you can have a cure-all pill that will help (eeeer, no thanks!)

2. Find your trusted professional/s.  For me, that’s my amazing physio, Chris and my coach, Carlos.  I check in frequently with both, we talk about the niggles and we attack them as they happen. Which leads me to my next step.

3. Do the stretching, the rolling, the icing and the anti-inflammatories.  Do allll the things you know you should do.  Go on, do it now, I am rolling my plantar fascia as I write, and I’ve been getting a few weird looks in my office this week as I’ve stretched at my desk or on my breaks!  If you keep on top of the conditioning stuff you can feel a little more in control (and know that it is wayyy more helpful spending your time doing this than going into the deepest depression reading Googles less than ideal prognosis of your ‘injuries’)

4. Know that niggles can and do happen, and they aren’t necessarily the injury boogieman – but respect them and your body and give it some love in that crazy pre-race time where the mental stress of the impending doom…I mean, race day, can play havoc with your mind and make your super sensitive to what is going on in your body.

So was the pain in my brain?  maybe it was, but it was definitely in my body as well and I will roll and stretch and give my body the care it needs to have me arrive on the start line in just a few weeks feeling ready to run 100 miles.

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