You’re in the middle of an important training run or race when you get a cramp, blister or stitch. Here’s how to run around these setbacks:
Issue: muscle cramp
Recovery plan: stop running and apply pressure to the muscle. Press firmly for 15 seconds – don’t massage. Then gently stretch the muscle. Repeat the pressure/stretch cycle until the cramp subsides. Walk at first and then slowly increase your pace.
Recovery plan: in a short run or race, keep going. Otherwise, it’s best to deal with a blister before it becomes painful enough to throw off your gait. If possible, cover the blister with a band-aid, but if an aid station or the finish line is kilometres away, adjust your shoelaces. Tightening shoelaces could stop heel slippage – a common cause of blisters. Loosening shoelaces can also take pressure off a hot spot.
Issue: side stitch
Recovery plan: when you inhale and exhale, notice which foot is striking the ground then switch the pattern. So, if you were leading with your right foot, inhale when the left foot steps. If that doesn’t help, stop running and reach both arms above your head. Bend at the waist, leaning to the side opposite the stitch.
Issue: ankle turn
Recovery plan: if you suffered a minor sprain, your first few steps will be painful. But once the ankle loosens up, you’ll be able to run on it and get back in the race with ease. Stop if your pain is more severe with each step – that’s a sign of a fracture.