The Being Yourself Series, from Make Me A Plan's Wellbeing Expert, Jane Studd

Before I get into my main topic of conversation today, I’m going to have to give a bit of background information about myself.  As well as writing about all things wellbeing for Make Me A Plan, and doing Student Nurse Stuff of course, I’m a runner.  I’ve run ever since I was 11 and my Mum decided that the best way to improve my asthma was for me to exercise (thanks Mum).  Running is probably my greatest source of joy.  I love anything from 1,500m up to ultramarathon distance, roads or trails.  To borrow from Elf: I just like to run.  Running’s my favourite.  


Recently, I’ve been feeling on particularly good form with my running.  I’ve been training quite hard, and actually getting some good results from it.  As I mentioned in my last post, I recently set a new Parkrun personal best, and generally I’ve just been feeling pretty fit.  I’ve also had a niggling injury for about the past four months.  Nothing major, just a bit of a sore foot after training and when I first wake up in the morning.  Fortunately, it doesn’t hurt when I’m actually running on it.  So, I’ve been making the very sensible and completely medically sound decision to ignore it.  This complete disregard for the advice I know I would give other people had been serving me well until a couple of weeks ago, when I ran the Black RAT, a 50km ultramarathon along the Cornish coast path.


As usual, my foot felt fine during the actual race.  A bit tender maybe, but I bounced around feeling (for the most part) great.  The day after, I could barely walk, but I put this down to having run 50km the day before.  By the following Wednesday I went for a little run, but my foot definitely wasn’t feeling right.  I continued to try to ignore it.  I have no explanation for this, except that I’ve been running so well, and running makes me so happy, that the idea of having to take time off to recover felt impossible.  For some reason, even though I am generally quite a sensible person and even though I should know better, I decided that if I ignored the problem, it would just go away.


On Saturday, I met up with my friend Rachel for Parkrun and my foot felt incredibly uncomfortable the entire time.  Afterwards we went for a coffee and, when I got up to leave an hour later, I could barely put any weight on it.  Rachel looked at me.  “I’m fine!” I protested.  I clearly was not fine.  


“Girl…” (Rachel is American) “You need to rest.”  


And so, we’re now a week on from me finally listening to, if not my body, at least my friend.  I have been very good and have been resting and icing religiously all week.  I’ve been wearing sensible shoes and taking ibuprofen.  I have been swimming and using the elliptical, but no running.  I’ve even been catching the bus instead of walking if I’m going further than the corner shop.  My foot is starting to feel better.  I’m planning a run this week to test it, but if it starts to hurt, I promise I am going to be strict with myself about going back to resting.


Although this post has been about running, I’m sure we can all think of situations where we have pushed ourselves past where we should have.  We do it with work, with late nights or with general life commitments.  It’s very easy to rationalise this to ourselves (“after this week things will quieten down”, “I don’t want to miss out”, “everyone else is doing it”) but, honestly, if we’re having to justify our decisions to ourselves constantly, maybe it’s because we know they’re not healthy ones?  I’m very lucky that I have a friend like Rachel, who is happy to give her honest opinion, but deep down I already knew that, if my friend had been ignoring an injury for that long I would have told them the same thing.  So, from now on I am going to try to listen to my body, and my own advice.  I’m going to Be My Own Rachel, take a step back as soon as I feel there is something wrong, and hopefully feel happier and healthier for it.


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