When was the last time you had a bit of a niggle to deal with?
For many runners, it probably hasn’t been all that long.
I’ve actually got a bit of a niggle that I’m trying to work through at the moment.
With a little luck, in another week or two I’ll have moved past this little niggle once and for all.
Without any luck, in another week or two I’ll be on the shelf with a proper injury…
What Is a Niggle?
According to Google, a niggle is a “slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety.”
So from a running perspective, near as I can tell, a niggle is simply a little hitch in your giddyup.
A little tightness. Random ache/pain.
Something that isn’t quite right, but also isn’t something that is overly concerning.
At the moment.
Because a niggle can definitely turn into an injury if you’re not careful.
To Run or Not to Run…
That’s the million-dollar question, eh?
The fact of the matter is that whether or not you should keep running through a niggle is one of those more art than science situations.
In certain situations, carrying on makes all the sense in the world.
Other times? Pulling back, potentially pulling way back, is the right call.
Most of the time? The “right” answer is somewhere in the middle.
As such, you’d be wise to be rather flexible with your running plans while you’re working through a niggle.
A Few Thoughts to Keep in Mind
Thinking about trying to keep running while you deal with your niggle?
I can’t exactly fault you for that, seeing as that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
If you’re going to try and keep on keeping on, here are a few things to keep in mind to hopefully help you avoid making things worse, in no particular order.
Listen to Your Body
How is the niggle responding to your continued attempts to log your miles?
Does it seem to be getting better? Trending slightly worse? More or less holding steady?
You really need to pay close attention to what your body is telling you and tweak your training accordingly.
Adjust Your Training as Needed
Depending on what your body is telling you, you’re likely going to have to adjust your training a little bit while you’re working through your niggle.
Pull back on the intensity?
Cut your runs a bit short?
Substitute a run for an extra day of cross-training?
All adjustments you may need to make.
Keep an Eye on the Big Picture
Do you have a race coming up? Nothing on the calendar for another six months?
Upcoming races, and goals for those races, may help you decide how much risk you’re willing to take when you’re dealing with a niggle.
If there’s a big race on tap, you might be more willing to roll the dice with carrying on as close to normal as possible.
But if you don’t have a race for a while, or the races on your schedule are low-key races more for fun than for trying to set new PRs, it might make sense to be a bit more conservative in hopes of avoiding that whole mountain and molehill scenario.
Step Up Your Little Things Game
You know what’s really good at preventing a lot of niggles in the first place?
Doing the little things.
The little things are also pretty effective at eliminating the niggles once they crop up.
Dust off the foam roller. Stretch more. Get on the yoga mat. Charge the massage gun.
And not for nothing, but maybe keep doing the little things once the niggle is done and dusted, eh?
Figure Out the Cause
This may or may not be possible, but it’s worth trying to figure out what may have caused the niggle to begin with.
New shoe style? Increase in training load/intensity? Adding in some kind of new physical activity?
If you come up with any leads, you may be able to use that info to help you work through the niggle more strategically.
So Should You Run?
Ultimately, this is a call that you have to make.
Running while you’re dealing with a niggle is a risk/reward situation for sure.
Obviously, as runners, we want to run.
But forcing the issue when you’re dealing with an issue means you could have no choice but to deal with an injury, which more than likely means you’ll have no choice but to stop running for a while.
And that’s what we are trying to avoid, right?
So should you run while niggled?
That’s up to you.
How do You Handle Running Through a Niggle?
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