If running doesn’t feel good, then run less

Vrijdag, 2 oktober 2015
If running doesn’t feel good, then run less

If you’re running too much or not getting enough rest, you’re more likely to suffer an injury. Similarly, if you continue to run while dealing with stressful situations in your private life, you’ll also be at a greater risk of reduced performance and injury.

As a runner you may work with a training schedule, but even if you don’t, you undoubtedly build in recovery days (rest) between your efforts (training sessions) to prevent you from suffer a strain.


Suppose you are forced to deal with stressful events in your private life. In this case, it is also a good idea to build in that rest so that you can recover from strong emotions. You might want to slow down your exercise routine, although exercise can also be a great distraction. Until now, no research was available into the relationship between physical and psychosocial strain and recovery.

Study of 115 endurance athletes

Sport scientist Ruby Otter, however, did carry out that research in this area. For two years, she tracked the performances of 115 endurance athletes in and around the city of Groningen, including runners, skaters, rowers, cyclists and triathletes. The participants themselves kept daily records of their training load and any injuries.

Psychosocial strain

In addition, they regularly completed a questionnaire about psychosocial strain and recovery (once a week to once every three weeks). They also underwent an exercise test every six weeks at the SportsFieldLab in Groningen.

Deteriorated running economy

Ruby, who conducted her research at the Institute for Sport Studies at Hanzehogeschool and the Centre for Movement Sciences at University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), has found that a drastic event in a runner’s life not only leads directly to a greater psychosocial strain, but also has an effect on the running economy (i.e. the amount of energy you need to run at a certain speed) three weeks later.

Tell your trainer

Do you run under the supervision of a trainer? It is therefore important that you not only inform him or her of any physical pain, but also of any major event in your private life. Your trainer can then adjust your schedule accordingly to prevent you from sustaining an injury more quickly. It also allows your trainer to better interpret a change in your performance.

Slow down

Do you run for yourself? If so, the motto seems to be to deal with major private events in the same way as with physical discomfort: slow down, listen to your body, don’t set the bar too high for yourself and accept a lesser running performance.

Ruby Otter's thesis can be downloaded from the University of Groningen website.

Source: Knowledge Centre Sport [Kenniscentrum Sport].